If you haven’t experienced such genuine love or it was mixed with abuse, then you may not appreciate real love nor expect to be treated any better.
Without empathy, narcissists can be selfish, hurtful, and cold when it doesn’t serve them to be charming or cooperative. To them relationships are transactional. Rather than respond to feelings, they’re interested in getting their needs met―sometimes, even if it means exploiting others, cheating, lying, or breaking the law. Although they may feel excitement and passion in the early stages of a relationship, this is not love, but lust. They’re known for their game-playing.
Sacrificing for a loved one isn’t in their playbook. Their lack of empathy also inures them to the pain that they cause others, while their cognitive, emotional intelligence gives them an edge in manipulating and exploiting others to get their needs met.
4. Emptiness and lack of emotional connection
Narcissists lack a positive, emotional connection to themselves, making it difficult for them to emotionally connect with others. Their undeveloped self and deficient inner resources require them to be dependent on others for validation.
Rather than confidence, they actually fear that they’re undesirable. They can only admire themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. Hence, despite their boasting and self-flattery, they crave attention and constant admiration. Because their sense of self is determined by what others think of them, they try to control what others think to feel better about themselves.
They use relationships for self-enhancement and for their “narcissistic supply.” However, due to their inner emptiness, they’re never satisfied. Whatever you do for them is never enough to fill their emptiness. Like vampires who are dead inside, narcissists exploit and drain those around them.
5. Lack of boundaries
Mythological Narcissus fell in love with his own image, as reflected in a pool of water. At first, he didn’t realize that it was himself. This metaphorically describes narcissists.
Narcissists’ inner emptiness, shame, and undeveloped self make them uncertain of their boundaries. They don’t experience other people as separate individuals, but as two-dimensional, extensions of themselves, without feelings, since they cannot empathize.
Other people only exist to meet their needs. This explains why narcissists are selfish and oblivious to their impact on others, even when they’re cruel.
Want to know more about the dubious things narcissists do? Then check out this piece here 12 Weird Things Narcissists Do
6. Use of defense mechanism to protect their vulnerability
It’s the defense mechanisms used by narcissists to protect their vulnerability that make relationships with them so difficult.
Common defenses they use are arrogance and contempt, denial, projection, aggression, and envy.
1. Arrogance and contempt
These defenses inflate a narcissist’s ego with an air of superiority to shield against unconscious feelings of inadequacy. It also shifts shame by projecting inferiority onto others.
Denial distorts reality so that a narcissist can live in an inflated bubble of their own fantasy world to protect their fragile ego. They distort, rationalize, twist facts, and delude themselves to avoid anything that may cause a chink in their armor, which is so thick, that to some narcissists, no amount of evidence or argument can get through.
3. Projection and blame
This defense enables unacceptable feelings, thoughts, or qualities to be disowned and mentally or verbally attributed to someone else. Blame shifts responsibility, so the narcissist is blameless. This defense serves the same function as denial.
Projection is an unconscious process, whereby a narcissist doesn’t have to experience anything negative in him or herself, but sees it as external. Those traits are projected onto someone else or a group of people instead. You become the one who is selfish, weak, unlovable, or worthless.
Projection is very crazy-making and damaging to the self-esteem of people close to a narcissist, especially children.