We tend to believe (rightfully so) that narcissists are attracted to generous, kind, giving people. An empathetic person goes out of their way to please others. As a result, the narcissist will try even harder to be in relationship with them because they want to be the recipient of unlimited empathy. Having someone to dote on their every desire gives them endless narcissistic supply. But what happens when two narcissists become attracted to each other? Can narcissists be in relationship with each other?
Surprisingly, two narcissists can be in relationship with each other. They understand how the other one works. And they will know how they can manipulate the relationship to work for them. Also, they generally don’t have a problem with the other partner being a narcissist. To have a problem with the narcissist is to have a problem with their own narcissism. Finally, because they consider relationships to function the same as business deals, they find the give and take with the other narcissist to be comfortable and normal. “Nothing personal.”
Over time I have done some extensive research on the subject. Connecting it to my own experience with a narcissist gave me a whole new perspective on narcissism and relationships. Read on to see what I learned.
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Narcissists in Relationship Understand Each Other Better
Narcissists in relationship with each other understand how the other one functions. That is because they think and behave so similarly. I was always shocked at how I could read an article about someone else’s experience with a narcissist and it felt like their experience was EXACTLY like mine. Even the words and concepts they used!
And then, when I went to counseling and my counselor could repeat back to me exactly what I was going through as though she had been in my house watching my whole life was mindblowing.
Narcissists cannot see anyone else as people except for themselves. They expect everyone else to serve and cater to them because they are so much more important than everyone else. And they know that another narcissist will understand that, even though they also know that the other narcissist will feel that way.
But they also know that the other narcissist will cater to them so others will see them as the best person. Plus, they can’t see the other partner putting themselves first as a problem, because they need to justify that feeling in themselves. Calling it wrong in others would be the same as calling themselves wrong, something a narcissist can never do.
The fact that narcissists think the same, behave the same, speak the same, literally do everything the same way has caused some people in Christian circles to think they are possessed by a demon. I am not sure myself how little or much I believe that, but sometimes it sure seems like it. (For more on this idea, check out this article.)
It is this very sameness that offers narcissists a bit of a reprieve with each other. They deeply understand each other. They don’t need to work so hard to convince the other partner to give them narcissistic supply because they already understand exactly what the other partner is looking for. And knowing that they can provide that supply for the other partner is in itself a supply for themselves.
Narcissists Don’t Have a Problem With Their Partner’s Narcissism–Until…
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that narcissists who engage in long-term relationships and marry are equally as satified as their non-narcissistic counterparts. This is because a relationship is largely based on perception. As long as both partners are getting their needs for narcissistic supply met, they are happy to stay in relationship with one another…
…until they get bored, which usually won’t take very long. Other issues will come up too. Because they don’t have the ability to love or have compassion, their relationship can never grow. And as they don’t feel their own needs being met, they will begin to grow resentful and angry.
We all know what happens in a relationship with a narcissist when they start getting paranoid and angry. Once they see you in a negative light, they won’t be able to see you in a positive light. Their contempt for you grows exponentially. The same is true for two narcissists. And because they are battling to destroy each other, it generally becomes vastly more contentious than a narcissist/empath relationship does.
Before they part ways forever, though, they will both try to get whatever they can out of the other one. One last bit of narcissistic supply is always the order of the day.
There are a few rare cases where narcissists end up forming a partnership that does last long term. I will cover that in the next section.
Narcissists Treat Their Relationship More Like Business Transactions
Narcissists actually can form a bond. It just doesn’t look like a normal bond between two happily married people.
In the cases where two narcissists form a long-lasting relationship, whether married or not, they tend to behave more like it’s a business relationship. “You do _____ for me and I will do _____ for you.” My ex-husband used to do this with me all the time and I played along thinking it was just a joke, or good natured ribbing. It took me a lot of years to realize that was what he was really thinking. Doing things out of love with nothing in return was never something he even thought about.
Because a relationship between two narcissists resembles a business partnership, it can go on for a long time as long as both parties perceive their needs are being met fairly adequately. If they start to think they are getting the short end of the stick, they will not hesitate to share that feeling with their partner. And if their partner feels they will benefit by giving more and continuing the relationship, then they will easily start to give their partner more of what they are demanding.
The key here is that both partners feel like they are still getting enough narcissistic supply to keep the relationship going.
I think another component to this is the realization that emotionally healthy people will not stay in relationship with them. So they realize they need to find someone that is willing to put up with their manipulation. That pretty much leaves codependent people and other narcissists.
What Does a Narcissistic Relationship Look Like?
On the surface, two narcissists in relationship look just about like every couple. How the relationship looks actually has a lot to do with what kind of narcissists they are and how far up or down the scale they are.
For instance, two covert narcissists that fall high on the narcissism scale (full blown narcissistic personality disorder) will probably be pretty obvious in their inability to function like a normal couple. They will be loud. They will be confrontational with each other in public. And they will have no problem showing the world how good they look with their partner until the contempt starts. Then you will hear all about how evil and wrong the other partner is–from both partners.
The covert narcissistic couple will be much harder to identify, especially if they fall lower on the scale of narcissism. They will be able to mask their selfishness as concern, love, or servanthood for the other partner. Part of the reason for this lies in the fact that the narcissist always has to be seen as the best. In order to look like the best lover, they have to show everyone how much they do for their partner and how fondly they think of them.
Those are the two extremes. Most narcissists in relationship with each other are going to fall somewhere in between these two examples. The more time you spend with them, the more you will see. And honestly, once you see it, you will be surprised at how obvious it is.
How Long Does a Narcissistic Couple Last?
I mentioned above that sometimes narcissists will learn how to function together as a couple in a way that allows them to stay together for many years. This is the exception more than the rule though.
Narcissists by nature get bored very quickly. Mine liked to constantly be changing everything, even cars and houses. It was always a fight for me to be able to stay put for any length of time without having to go sign away for the next car or house.
The boredom doesn’t usually end with things. It can be jobs, and especially relationships. They do keep some (very few) long term relationships with friends. But they never get very close to those friends, like going out on a regular basis. They don’t ever let those people get close enough to see the mask they wear. And most people seem to be okay with that.
As far as relationships, it just depends on how long they are meeting each others’ need for narcissistic supply. Once that is not working, there is no reason for them to be together. In fact, it will be incredibly toxic and impossible for two narcissists who see no value in each other anymore. They will go from totally into each other to wanting to destroy each other in the blink of an eye.
Yes, surprisingly enough, two narcissists can be in relationship with one another. It can be incredibly passionate at the beginning as both are “all-in,” but then it tends to turn sour very quickly if they don’t find a rhythm that suits both of their perceived needs without too much work on their own part. It is not a relationship that others looking in would want to get close to.
There will be exponentially more contempt and toxicity when things go south. And it will be painful for those who are on the outside looking in.
Sam Vaknin, an Israeli writer and professor of psychology and probably the most famous self-admitted narcissist, talks about what happens when two narcissists finds themselves in relationship. It’s an older video, but so perfectly on point. Here is his video:
Have you ever seen two narcissists in relationship with each other? How did it alarm you? Did you try to stay clear of them or did you stay involved? I would love to hear your story! Please feel free to share in the comments below. Or, if you do not feel safe commenting publicly but would like to share, you can message me privately by clicking here.
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