What is the effect of narcissism on relationships?

The effect of narcissism on relationships is well documented in the psychological literature. Most people in a love relationship, especially a romantic relationship, accept a certain amount of give and take between the participants. With narcissists, there is no donation; their self-obsession means that the entire relationship revolves around them and their wants or needs. People involved with narcissists usually exhibit symptoms of physical and psychological stress, or eventually leave them for their own protection. There is treatment for both parties, but the narcissist must exhibit a real commitment to change for it to be effective.

Pathological narcissism is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a personality disorder in which people are extremely fixated on themselves. This disorder is found more frequently in men than in women, and affects between 2% and 15% of the general population. A fragile self-esteem is protected by an inflated sense of self-importance, and narcissists are generally convinced that they are always right. They will do anything to get what they want, regardless of how it makes others feel.

Narcissism in relationships that are romantic can be devastating. Narcissists will usually charm their partners at first, but then more insidious traits can emerge. They demand unconditional love on your terms, and will withdraw affection when they cross paths. They can look for partners who have similar abandonment issues as their own, so they won't abandon them no matter how poor their behavior is. Substance abuse, promiscuity, and other self-soothing behaviors can surface when they feel threatened or bored.

People with this disordered thinking are generally not interested in looking for long-term partners. The effect of his narcissism on relationships results in a focus on short-term pleasure in the form of sexual disappointments, without any real attachment. Compromise is not valuable to them unless it has some sort of selfish motive. They are restless and always looking for the next encounter. This causes jealousy and anxiety in their partners, who then have to make a decision whether to leave or stay.

One of the most visible effects of narcissism in relationships is domestic violence, when narcissists hurt their partners physically or emotionally. Instead of physical harm, some of them use passive-aggressive tactics to undermine their partners' self-esteem, preventing abandonment and shoring up the narcissists' grandiose view of themselves. Due to the narcissist's abandonment issues, leaving a violent relationship is extremely risky for the abused partner.

Children of narcissistic parents may not get the affirmation they need to develop empathy for others and may end up this way themselves. Rather, some researchers think the self-esteem movement may be to blame, with its intense focus on exclusively positive reinforcement. The effects of narcissism on relationships can be lifelong, but treatment with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication for underlying depression can help. The narcissist must be willing to make a change for the therapy to be effective.

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