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Can Two Narcissists be Trauma Bonded?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   January 13, 2024

It is a well-known fact that empaths and codependents are commonly trauma bond victims.  Abusers are able to pick up on their empathy and compassion and use it to keep them trapped for years or even decades.  But what about narcissists?  Can narcissists be trauma bonded?

Surprisingly, narcissists can indeed be trauma bonded to an abuser.  If a narcissist thinks they can receive more benefit than drawback to being attached to another narcissist or other abuser, they can stay for some time.  Sometimes, the relationship is explosive.  But other times, two narcissists could team up and learn how to get the narcissistic supply they need from each other.

Let’s take a deeper look at how the different trauma bonding/narcissist scenarios work out.

When a Narcissist is Trauma Bonded With Another Abuser

Oddly enough, narcissists are actually very likely to form a trauma bond with another person.  They will do nearly anything to get their narcissistic supply–the admiration and approval of others.  If that means they have to put up with some crap to get it, they are okay with it.  And they can go on for years waiting for that next narcissistic supply fix, even if there is a large amount of abuse in between moments of supply.

Eventually, they will move on and find an easier source of supply.  But they won’t generally leave the trauma bonded relationship until they see something much better on the horizon.  That is because they are afraid if they leave, they won’t be able to replace the crumbs of support they get.  And in a trauma bonding relationship, the abuse is prevalent while the narcissistic supply is few and far between, but just enough to keep the narcissistic “victim” in the relationship.  Hence, the trauma bond.

Because narcissists are good at playing the victim, when the trauma bond finally breaks, the narcissist will find plenty of sympathy and victim support among their new circle of friends, who have no idea what is really going on.  Their claims of victimhood will have a ring of truth because there actually is a ring of truth to it.  And that will make future relationships with that narcissistic victim even more treacherous because there will be such a fine line between truth and narcissistic lies.

*Note:  For the best resources on understanding, dealing with, and healing narcissism, click here!

When a Narcissist is Trauma Bonded With Another Narcissist

When a narcissist becomes trauma bonded with another narcissist, the relationship will certainly be explosive at times, but it can actually form a pretty successful partnership, albeit a trauma bonded one.  They will both feed into each other’s need for narcissistic supply.  But they will also abuse and malign when they get the chance.  It will be a constant tug of war.

I think the reason this works well at least for a time is because they will both understand what makes the other one tick.  They can each put up with what they need to as long as they are getting their narcissistic supply.  And since both partners need it and live for it, they understand what they need to do to keep the other one “engaged” in the relationship.

Although a trauma bond formed between two narcissistic partners can be long term, often it is not.  Once things get toxic, it is hard to get back to positivity in their minds, even with the carrot of narcissistic supply being held in front of them.  And they usually realize that if they can find a more empathic type they will have a lot less negative to deal with and the patience of an empath will likely outlast the patience of a narcissist ten times over.  They will always choose relationship with an empath over another narcissist.

That being said, if no empath is available at the moment, being in relationship with another narcissist is very much like a business transaction.  And as long as both see it that way and see the benefits of remaining, the trauma bonds don’t seem so hard to bear.

When a Narcissist is Trauma Bonded With a Narcissistic Parent

Often, a narcissist is trauma bonded to the narcissistic parent that neglected/abused them and essentially caused their narcissism.  The narcissist has spent their entire life trying to gain the approval/satisfaction of their parent(s), only to be be further abused more often than not.  

Unfortunately, that need for the narcissistic parent’s approval never ends.  They think maybe this time will work.  This time the parent(s) will appreciate them.  Except they don’t.  But the narcissist can’t cut ties.  They are addicted to the need to somehow make the parent relate to them in the way they should have from the beginning.  Because if they can somehow gain that approval, then maybe the intense shame they feel that stays so hidden could finally be put to rest.  

Unfortunately, the cycle never ends for as long as narcissists are trying to gain each others’ approval because they never will as long as they are seeking that approval from other narcissists.  That is why they seek out empaths.  They will get the praise and accolades they need that they will never get anywhere else.  

Does the Narcissist Feel the Trauma Bond?

Because narcissists tend to be super offended at even the slightest offense, they certainly feel the weight of the trauma bond.  When you combine the fact that their mind is constantly working to manipulate and control relationships to get what they want, they now throw suspicion on everything that happens to them, suspecting others of manipulating and controlling in the same way they do.  When you are talking about two narcissists in relationship, it is likely they are right about the mutual manipulation.

As time goes on, the suspicion can get overwhelming and constant.  And at that point, it very well may signal the end of that relationship.  But narcissists won’t leave the relationship until they have a new supply lined up.  So, in effect, they will consider the trauma bond worth putting up with until they can find a suitable, or specifically, better replacement.

How to Keep Yourself Safe From the “Narcissistic Team”

Dealing with one narcissist in your relationships is difficult enough.  But dealing with two narcissists in relationship can be insurmountable relationally for you.  This is because they know each others’ methods of manipulation and can work on the same wave length without anyone around them even realizing what is going on.

The best thing you can do is turn around and run the other way.  But unfortunately, that is not always possible.  In my case, my ex-husband and his two older sisters made quite the narcissistic team.  Ironically, I had no idea they were working as a team.  The two sisters would bully me from the time I started dating him.  When I told him what they had done, he would say because he wasn’t there he couldn’t verify their behavior; therefore, he couldn’t confront them about it.  And oddly enough, they always waited until he left the room.  I finally realized 30 years later what had been going on all that time while he was defending one of his sister’s theft of my belongings every time she came to visit us.  About three years later, we were divorced and I was forever released from having to deal with them again.

At the end of the day, you will never come out on top if you are battling multiple narcissists.  You can’t ever keep up with the shenanigans.  But you can walk away and choose to not engage.  Whether or not you CAN walk away from the entire relationship is another story.  But the less you react to their craziness, the less they can get to you and will hopefully find it not worth their trouble anymore.

Have you seen teams of narcissists working/scheming together?  Did they try to entangle you in their mess?  How did it all work out for you?  How were you able to get away from the craziness?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.  Or if you need to communicate privately, feel free to contact me here.


Do you think you may be involved in a trauma bond relationship?  Take this test to get more information!

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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