Why the Narcissist Cannot Love

The easiest way to think about it is this : Narcissists are stuck at age five.

 One of the most well-known theories in psychology is Sigmund Freud's theory that as children, we pass through different psychosexual stages. According to Freud, if a child is deprived or over-indulged in any of these stages, it results in what he calls "fixation." Fixation describes an adult who is stuck or attached to an earlier childhood mode of satisfaction.

An infant does not see others as indistinguishable from the self. An infant or toddler perceives the world (or mother) as an extension of himself. Children feel that people, particularly mother, are present to cater to their every need. They know that if they cry, they can elicit an immediate response in those around them. They will be presented with food and cradling in response to any fussing or crying on their part. They see others as existing solely for their own purpose.
This type of selfishness is natural for an infant or small child.

They must rely on others to meet their needs in order to survive. According to Freud, this extreme selfishness, or narcissism is a normal psych-sexual stage of development between the stages of auto-eroticism and object-libido. Freud published an entire article on the subject titles "On Narcissism: An Introduction."

Healthy, well-adjusted children eventually grow out of this narcissistic stage. They grow out of it and learn to understand that others have needs as well. Unfortunately, not everyone grows out of this stage. If they received too little or too much attention, they become fixated in this stage, obsessed with getting their needs met at all times. This is where the narcissist is stuck. He is stuck at age five and completely oblivious to the fact that others have needs or wants of their own.

The only feelings a narcissist experiences are the primal, instinctive feelings we all posses in order to survive - Fear and Anger. We are all born with these instincts as they are critical to our survival (i.e. Darwin's theory). This also helps explain why when a narcissist becomes upset, he rages, right? That's because this is the only real feeling a narcissist experiences so when it comes on, watch out. This is no acting. He really feels this.

As a human, if our development is healthy, we evolve and begin realizing that others have needs as well. We begin to develop more mature complex feelings, such as empathy, love and compassion. Unfortunately, if our development is stunted, we never evolve past the narcissistic stage. We are stuck at age five and never develop the feelings that truly make us the unique humans we are.

I feel sorry for them in a way. Narcissists are not able to experience the joy of loving another. Sure, they think they love you but that's because they are dependent on you for survival, not because they are in love with you in any mature, adult or romantic way.

They truly cannot help it. They simply never developed feelings such as love and empathy.

We know narcissists cannot feel love. They also dread intimacy. However, they 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. Narcissists do not enter or stay in relationships for love. Their motives are quite different. I believe they become involved in relationships in order to ensure their needs are met. It’s really that simple…nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

Narcissists feed off of the attention they get from others. Adoration from others is what fuels and sustains them. It is like a drug to them and they are addicted to it. This drug is often referred to as Narcissistic Supply (NS). NS is any form of attention a narcissist receives from others.

There are two types of NS—primary and secondary. Primary NS is the day-to-day changing attention and affirmation a narcissist receives from different people he encounters throughout his day. When he does not receive enough primary NS from strangers or others to fulfill his desires, he turns to what is called secondary NS.

Secondary NS is strictly for backup purposes. Secondary NS is typically obtained from a narcissist’s significant other. The significant other is a constant presence in a narcissist’s life. Therefore, they are always available and accessible to a narcissist, should he 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, it is impossible to control how much attention or primary NS one will receive from the outside world on a daily basis.

Since lack of NS is something a narcissist cannot bear, he must make certain he has a backup form of it that is always available to him. It is for this reason a narcissist seeks to secure a relationship with a woman. He prefers primary NS because it is ever-changing and dynamic, but when unavailable, he will resort to secondary NS ... a.k.a. his significant other.

In my experience, a narcissist eventually becomes sarcastic and belittles you constantly. He grows tired of you as a source of supply and seeks out new more interesting supply sources. You begin to feel you can do nothing right in his eyes
and your presence is hardly tolerable. You’re baffled. You wonder what
you did wrong to cause such a drastic change in his feelings toward you.
You struggle desperately to return things to the way they were in the

Unfortunately, as hard as you try, things will never be the 
same again. This is because everything he did in the beginning was an
act to secure you, nothing more. He never loved you because he is incapable of it. He simply saw you as a supply source.

A narcissist sees others as a means to achieve an end. When contemplating a relationship with someone, he asks himself how useful this person can be to him. That is the barometer by which he measures your worth. Narcissists use people with no remorse.

Being the object of a narcissist’s desire is a maddening and precarious 
way to live. It can drive anyone to the edge of their sanity. The important thing to remember is that you have done nothing wrong. It's "all about him," always has been and always will be. He will treat every woman he meets the same way. You deserve someone capable of real genuine love. There are men capable of this emotion and you should never settle for anything less.

James's picture

The only feelings a narcissist experiences are the primal, instinctive feelings we all posses in order to survive - Fear and Anger. Lisa, These feeling (Fear and Anger) i.e. emotions were something I witness in my ex all the time. They were in fact the domineering personality traits display by her. One reason I felt the need to comfort her and take care of her. Of course all before I knew what I was dealing with and learning about "Personality disorders" and all that comes with dealing with them. Look at it like this: If one was to married a person who was bi-polar and the partner never told them. Then whenever they forgot to take their meds and started acting up how confuse the other partner would be! The same happens whenever we too become involved with a person who suffers from a personality disorder and/or doesn't know about the subject. Thanks for this post! In laymen terms it helps others as well as myself to see just what we are in fact dealing with. http://james-personalitydisorder.blogspot.com/
Lisa E. Scott's picture

You're welcome! You make such a good point. If we had married a person who was bi-polar and didn't know it, we would be very confused when they started acting up after not taking meds. Same thing happens here when we don't understand the disorder. Knowledge is power. Thanks, as always, for your insight!!!