Did My Narcissistic Mother Ever Love Me?

The doubt that daughters of narcissistic mothers live with.

Posted May 22, 2020

If you are a woman who was raised by a narcissistic mother, you may find yourself returning to one particularly troubling question: Did my mother ever really love me?

There is no simple yes or no answer to this, but what is clear is why you could reasonably have an element of doubt in this area, for the following reasons:

1. You didn’t receive unconditional love.

Narcissistic mothers often pass on the message—whether through words, actions, or in how they gave out love and attention—that you need to look, act, or be a certain way to be loveable. If you only received love and attention when you performed well, or were complimented only on your looks, you may be left with the question: Did my mother love me for who I was, or for what I could bring to her?

2. The love relationship was confusing.

A mother-child relationship should, ideally, be one in which the mother acts like an adult and provides love and care for her child. There is a clear adult-child boundary. When your mother is a narcissist, these roles are probably very confused. Daughters of narcissistic mothers often rely on their daughters for practical and emotional support. As an adult, you may have a very confused idea of the role you provided for your mother.

3. You were put down and criticised.

Narcissistic mothers often engage in a form of emotional abuse which involves criticising their daughter in order to make themselves feel better. A narcissistic mother may constantly seek to be the “best,” even where her own children are involved. When you’ve experienced this type of emotional abuse, it’s natural to question whether you were loved by your mother. 

Live Bruce, Unsplash
Source: Live Bruce, Unsplash

4. Being in competition with your mother.

Jealousy and envy are strong narcissistic traits leading to the mother feeling jealous of her daughter. When you have been raised by a mother who is envious of your friends, romantic partners, youth, and success, it can be hard to imagine that someone who sees you as a rival can truly love you.

5. Being rejected and ignored.

Many narcissists need to have their ego fed by surrounding themselves with admirers and people who will support them in whatever way they need. If you are the daughter of this type of narcissist, you may question how much importance your mother attached to you—her own child—in comparison with all the other people she needed to include in her life. 

Escaping From the Narcissistic Noose.

Many narcissistic mothers see their daughters as extensions of themselves. Their daughter’s successes reflect well on them. They live their lives through their children and can become extremely controlling. When you’re on the receiving end of this, it can feel suffocating and when you get the chance to escape—you do. If you’ve tried to break free from your narcissistic mother and your attempts have been met with rejection and conflict, you may even reach a point where you question whether you can love your mother. 

All of the above can take you to a place where you question your mother’s love and where you feel unloved. However, the behaviour of the narcissistic mother—difficult as it is to be on the receiving end—doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t love you. Rather, in the process of trying to have her own needs met, she treated you in an emotionally damaging way. 

If you feel you need help working through any of these issues, please seek therapy