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5 Harsh Truths About Narcissistic Love

Narcissists fall in love with their fantasy of you, not who you really are.

Key points

  • Narcissists are incapable of truly loving you for who you really are.
  • When narcissists say "I love you," what they mean is, "I love my fantasies about you."
  • Once the thrill of the courtship is over, a narcissist will find fault and want you to change.
  • If you stay in the relationship, you will be emotionally and/or physically abandoned, confused, exhausted, and heartbroken.
Source: pixabay/pexels

I am often asked some version of the following question: “Why did my narcissistic partner stop loving me?” Then I would hear a very similar sad story about the relationship's trajectory that I have heard many times before from many different people.

They treated me so well in the beginning. They told me that everything about me was perfect, that they would love me forever. We even made plans to go away together this summer. Then everything seemed to go downhill. They started finding fault with me, and then they started ignoring me. Now they have left me, and I feel broken and disappointed. Did I do something wrong?

Unfortunately, the answer is always the same. When narcissists say, “I love you," they do not mean the same thing as most people when they say those words. Here are what I call “The five harsh truths about narcissistic love.” What I am saying applies to both men and women with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Note: I am using the terms narcissist, narcissistic, and NPD as shorthand ways to describe someone who meets the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.

Truth 1: Narcissists fall in love with their fantasy of you.

The unfortunate truth is that narcissists do not really fall in love with people. They fall in love with their projections of whomever they currently idealize as the perfect mate. They can sound convincingly in love, but that is because they temporarily believe in the fantasy version of you created in their mind.

The reality is that narcissistic love is quite shallow and ultimately depends on how perfectly you embody their fantasies and how well you are meeting their needs. It is all about them and not about you.

Truth 2: Narcissists will be disappointed with the “real you.”

Unfortunately, you are likely to mistake their initial infatuation and the over-the-top idealization that goes with it for something more enduring. It cannot last because it is based on a fantasy. Once narcissists stop trying to impress you long enough to get to know you, they eventually become disappointed because you are a real person. Real people have flaws. They are not perfect Disney Princes or Princesses.

Truth 3: Narcissists will want you to change.

When your narcissistic lover discovers that you do not perfectly embody everything that he or she ever wanted in a partner, the construction project begins. Your lover starts to suggest ways that you should change to become “better.”

If you resist making the suggested “improvements,” your narcissistic partner is likely to stop being kind and start to be mean to you. As a result, the two of you will start to fight a lot and the good times diminish.

Truth 4: Narcissists will devalue you.

As your narcissistic lover becomes more comfortable with you and increasingly unhappy about your flaws, inevitably the compliments will vanish, and the devaluing will begin.

Suddenly, you have somehow become stupid, uglier, and less desirable—and the narcissist in your life lets you know it!

You will hear things like:

  • Why are you wearing that to the party?
  • Don’t you think you should lose a few pounds?
  • Maybe you should consider getting a personal trainer.
  • And the ever popular: How could you be so stupid?

By the way, even if you tried to make all the changes your partner suggests, it would never be enough. Narcissists are perfectionists and nothing is ever as perfect as it could be in their mind. If you give them what they want, they will just move the goal posts further away.

Truth 5: Narcissists will abandon you.

This abandonment can be emotional or physical or both. In many ways emotional abandonment is worse. With emotional abandonment, your narcissistic partner does not physically leave you or formally break up with you. However, he or she makes it plain that you, your wishes, and your well-being are now matters of indifference.

At this point your narcissistic lover may already be flirting with other people in front of you or secretly cheating on you. Many narcissists do eventually physically leave, especially if they believe that they have better options available to them than you. You are like an old toy that they no longer find interesting enough to play with or cherish. They go off in search of someone new who has not yet become tarnished by reality.


Narcissists are bad at maintaining real relationships because they have difficulty caring about anyone but themselves. They may convincingly act the part of the besotted lover in the beginning of a relationship, but it cannot last. They are not in love with the real you. They have fallen in love with their own carefully constructed fantasy about you. When this fantasy falls apart, they become angry, bored, and nasty. They blame you for the relationship’s failures, not their own deficits or unrealistic standards.

Many narcissists will then abandon you to renew their search for the perfect partner who never disappoints them.

Adapted from a Quora post