Why Narcissists Seek Out Relationships

I am often asked why someone so self-absorbed and consumed with themselves would have any interest in pursuing a relationship with another person.

What you have to understand is that Narcissists are looking for meaning to fill up their emptiness. A Narcissist disconnects from him/herself as a child. As a result, they have no inner sense of self and need outside validation from others to remind themselves that they exist. They need someone to cater to their needs and fill the enormous void they feel inside.

Narcissists need people more than anyone. They have very specific reasons for being in relationships, but they are not built on the universal need we all have, which is to love. They do not enter or stay in relationships for love. Their motives are quite different. They become involved in relationships for three reasons. To ensure someone is always present to:

~Cater to their needs
~Stroke their ego
~and control and use at their disposal

Because they are so disconnected from themselves, Narcissists feel dead inside unless they receive outside validation from others. They must make sure someone is always present to provide them with the attention and adoration they need in order to feel alive.

It is important to understand that a Narcissist views you as nothing more than an extension of him/herself. Narcissists seek out relationships in order to ensure someone is present to cater to their needs, stroke their ego and make them look good. Men often select a trophy wife. Females are typically attracted to wealthy men who can support their obsession with image and status.

Narcissists feed off of the attention they get from people. Adoration from others is what fuels them. Attention is like a drug to them and they are addicted to it. This drug is what we call Narcissistic Supply (NS) and it is any form of attention a Narcissist receives from others.

According to Sam Vaknin (Author of "Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited") there are two types of Narcissistic Supply — Primary and Secondary. Primary Narcissistic Supply is the day-to-day changing attention one receives from various different people they encounter throughout their day. When one does not receive enough Primary NS from strangers or others to fulfill their desires, they turn to what is called Secondary NS.

Secondary Narcissistic Supply is strictly for backup purposes. Secondary NS is obtained from the Narcissist's significant other. The significant other is a constant presence in their life. Therefore, they are always available and accessible to them, should they encounter deficient Primary NS at some point during the day.

Narcissists need to ensure they have a constant and reliable source of NS at all times. The best way they have found of doing this is to have a significant other in their lives. They do not love this person, nor do they wish to be with this person most of the time. However, because it is impossible to control how much attention or Primary NS they will receive from the outside world on a daily basis, they must make certain they have a backup form of it that is always available to them.

It is for this reason a Narcissist seeks to find a significant other. They prefer Primary NS because it is ever-changing and dynamic, but when unavailable, they will resort to Secondary NS ... a.k.a. their significant other.

A Narcissist will simply discard you when they become convinced that you can no longer provide them with sufficient validation. Keep in mind, this evaluation of theirs is totally subjective and not grounded in reality at all. Suddenly, because of boredom, a disagreement, an act or a failure to act, they swing from total idealization to complete devaluation.

The Narcissist then disconnects from you immediately. They need to preserve all of their energy in order to obtain and secure new sources of supply and see no need to spend any of their precious time and energy on you, whom they now considers useless.

You must accept the fact that you were not an object of love to this person, but a pawn, a mere source of supply to feed their fragile ego; nothing more, but certainly nothing less. Because Narcissists are easily bored, they must change their source of supply every so often. Once you understand how they must constantly change their source of supply, you will realize their rejection of you has nothing to do with you. They will repeat this cycle in every relationship they enter. It is inevitable. Be grateful this toxic abusive person is out of your life and never let them back.

Jun 5 - 4PM
Stoeipoes's picture

Today I was stupid!

Jan 27 - 9AM
Maggster's picture

I truly understand all of

I truly understand all of this on an intellectual level. What I am having trouble with why does he want me back after I found out about the OW and confronted him. Why doesn't he just move on and why is he apologizing to me and trying to get me back? Why all the love and tears? Why can't he just let me go? He has his wife so he has supply.
Jan 29 - 10AM (Reply to #13)
repressed memory
repressed memory's picture

Wants you back

As frustrating as it is he cannot accept abandonment. The more the merrier so to speak. They just can't let go if you are still willing to supply them. They have no concept of time and will remember things like it was yesterday since they are so delusional. He probably is thinking about the past and how good you made him feel about "HIMSELF." It is always about them--what you are doing for them and how you are making them feel. It's not the qualities about you as an idividual, qualities that you possess which are nothing to do with them and time spent with you that has nothing to do with him. It's always the qualities with direct correlation to them. What is she doing for me? You would be back as the other woman make no mistake. They will never be monogomous!! Understand that.
Jan 27 - 10AM (Reply to #12)
Used's picture

He doesnt want you....He

He doesnt want you....He wants the supply you have been giving him for 15years....when he took over your life, and unfortunatly you let him.
Apr 15 - 9AM
rainbeau's picture

Compliments and Ego strokes

My narc, even as he was raging at me, telling me to move out, was simultaneously raging that I had not complimented his parenting abilities or anything about him for months. It's true. Every time I saw him, he was raging...usually about something that he was mistaken about, so I didn't think to compliment him on anything. Since leaving, I've had to talk to him to take care of business. He is still raging about a lack of compliments. If I didn't know he was a narc, I'd be rolling with laughter. Who on Earth screams when you don't compliment and flatter them? He considered attaining an unpaid authoritative position because he 'enjoys being appreciated for his intelligence FOR A CHANGE'. Ego strokes. He says things like "got to live up to my self". "Which self?", I wonder. It's an odd turn of phrase.
Apr 5 - 5AM
skystar's picture

Wow. Hope I'm able to

Wow. Hope I'm able to complete my escape. He's needy and I want to be needed. Perfect co-dependence. I am told by a lot of people who have known him all his life that he loves me as much as he can love anybody. I can see why he runs the bars everyday - filling the void with the SO at home keeping his clothes clean, his house clean, his dinner ready, his Rxs filled, his bills paid, etc., and the void is filled when he gets there. Its not me he wants back, its his servant. The trouble is i fight back and the verbal battle begins. He likes it. He is not physical with women, hes physical with men. Loves to fight. Dog back, my property back. Peace, Harmony, Laughter and loving my self return.
Mar 27 - 6AM
marky's picture

Why Narcissists Seek Out Relationships

narcissist may create an elaborate and gorgeous stages on which to play out his life. And indeed, this is basically what it is—acting.
Mar 1 - 4PM
strongerthanever's picture

Even though I understand this

Even though I understand this and can see the connection, it still hurts that he was starting a relationship with someone else while still with me...I know he was out the door mentally and emotionally and was using me financially or to see where this new girl would end up being. He married her in less than a yr of our breakup. Dated her 6 months and then proposed and 2 months later they married. - I know her marriage is an illusion. - I know he married her to fill that void of loneliness and he told me the night I kicked him out that he was not looking forward to dating. She was easy. I know he was on eHarmony because we got matched while he was dating her and taking her to Spokane to meet his family. Probably told her he forgot to turn off matching. We all know he was preparing his backup. - I know he married her to validate he could commit. Since he was 42, never married, and people would always comment that knew him for many yrs that it was no surprise he wasnt. - I know he married her and became a stepdad to her 2 young girls because he was told by his family that he was a a-hole for how he treated my son. This is his way of validating he can be nice to kids and the reason why he wasnt with mine or could not bond was due to my son (who was 8-11 when we were together). - I know when he always called his ex's while dating me, it was a source of supply. he even called an ex after 2 yrs of silence while dating his soon to be wife. - I know that he always has one foot in a door to make sure he has backup and a place to go or someoen to stroke his ego when the main supply is gone. - I know the women he lied to or never told them I existed was his way of making sure his supply was full. - I know that his marriage is an illusion and he is fooling himself that he can commit, be a stepdad, be trustworthy and monogamous. I struggle with this still more than I care to. - I know the patterns I saw in 2006 - 2009 were the same he was doing back in 1986 when he met his college friend who he used for supply for 10 yrs. In and out, contact then silence. Use her for companionship/sex and then announce he is in a relationship with someone else. He repeated this in 2000 - 2002 with his sons mother. - I know a leapord doesnt change his spots. So why is it hard for me to believe he will do this in his marriage and he is just using her and not "in love" with her either. He proposed to me twice but, I always caught him in lies and cheating. I guess it wasn't working for him. I exposed the true self and he had to find someone that would supply him with what he wanted, trust him, be chatty, happy all the time. Be on the same schedule as his son so he can quit his job and she can care for the kid. Someone that didnt have friends or family close by to help notice something was not right. I need to focus on that. And also that he has no soul.
Jul 29 - 7AM (Reply to #7)
OneoftheEXs's picture

My Mirror Story...

Thanks for posting this. I feel like I was the one writing it when I read your comment. It was stressful to be with him and I had a lot of worry and anxiety with other "extra" women that I feel he maintains as "back-up" just in case we did not work out. Even if I knew we were at our happiest (yes I felt happiness with him too), his women reveals itself out of nowhere from text, calls, or emails. We have a child together so imagine in the beginning from pregnancy to the last time we spoke, I had gone through hell and back to make the relationship work, for me, for us, for our darling child. I finally broke it off with him because it was getting ridiculous, the cheating, being irresponsible, the lies, inconsiderate that I was being a single mother taking care of his child. He acted like a bachelor the whole time. It was to say the least, a disrespectful relationship. After breakig it off with him, a couple of months later he already found to my suprise, a live in supply which I found out 4 months after the fact. When I found out, he still professed his love to me with tears and sincerity but never really could get his life straigtened out and still kept his current supply with him, how could someone do that?. I now realize it was all just acting.
Mar 1 - 12PM
smokabear's picture

lisa this is so perfect

lisa this is so perfect ,everything here is everything that I figured out, toward the end,as long as I was nice to him etc he was fine, but when he relized i know who he is and i started really not liking him at all and let him know ,oops he got worse after that,wonderful article lisa ,
Feb 28 - 5PM
aceonelady's picture

Thanks Lisa....and one question....

Hi,thanks but i have one issue that keeps bothering me...Ex N has no money.does not go out,only working a very low paid job,has to pay child support for 3 children...So he works avery phisycal work,goes home sit and go online...gaming,music,porn an eventually a movie....he says and i saw when there 2 months he do not have the energy and interest on doing anything else....the pc is his life...I did send him an E card on his birthday (he doesn't have any friends,told even his children he doesn't want to be bothered with Happy Birthday,the only 2 people he did alloud to congratulate him was me and his Mother,but she is dead now...)which he didn't bother checking,but i got an email saying he was sorry about having no interest in me and making a decision to not wanting go with me any further when i was there and the insults and names he called weren't true he just did it because i was toopersistent and agressive with my questions...thats it...So i answered saying if he was really sorry he would treat me in another fashion when i came back to Holland from his home in the U.S.A....then he send me another email saying that the picture of me that he liked so much he still has it and how i dare to think what he does or think and that i dare to say he forgot me alredy and that my ideas about what he thinks and does are only my ideas,and that he is doing and thinking exactly the opposite from i believe in....And that wants no communication with me whatsoever...Because I am a good person but not with him...i cannot communicate with him without conflict....3 months ago he changed his cell number,never sent me an email in 2 years even whe i did send something for his birthday out of pity...he live alone,only see his kids 10 minutes every 2 weeks when he brings child support ,do not communicate at all with his childrens mother (she told me that).So ,what would be his primary and secondary supply?i dont get it...Is he still feeding on me?i will never send an email agai,and i will stay NC because that bussiness of him asking forgiveness and then directly acusing me of not understanding he being nice on that email,sying thats why he won't communicate with me again and the yesterday another email sying "While you think i am thinking and doing something i am thinking and doing something totally the opposite"...Lisa and ladies any comments,please...And that from a person that told me he doesn;t care what i think about him....So back to NC...


Feb 28 - 10AM
MandyM's picture

Well, that explains why I

Well, that explains why I accused him more than once of "only calling me when you have nothing better to do!" and feeling like he paid attention to everyone else in his life but me. I really *wasn't* imagining it.
Mar 1 - 12PM (Reply to #3)
smokabear's picture

me too ,exactly word for word

me too ,exactly word for word ,he only spent time with me when he had nothing better to do, i can remember how much that hurt
Feb 28 - 4AM
sadderbutwiser's picture

his wife of 24 years

thanks for this post, lisa. also thanks for answering my question to you. this post makes it even clearer why he stays with her. it is all so strange and pathetic, isn't it? i'm so glad i got away before i got sucked in even deeper than i was. it is hard for me though, because they live 3 houses down and i see them alot.
Feb 28 - 3AM
onwithmylife's picture


I always suspected my EXNarc was in relationships with women, 5 to be precise, because he wanted desperately to appear normal, he never loved any of the women, including myself, but remember reading somewhere that they do so to appear "normal" in society and his first marriage gave him just that, a wife ,along with some children and the false sense of some family life, but when I listen to the stories from his first wife, he was exactly to her as he was to me,nothing changed at all, except the different women coming in and out of his life.