Why Most Narcissists Can’t Truly Love
Most narcissists can’t truly love. And that’s primarily because they have trouble with the foundational principle or “commandment” of wholesome character. I introduced this principle in Character Disturbance and discuss it at length in Essentials for the Journey. In short, this principle involves being aware of one’s relationship to everyone and everything else. But even more important than that, it’s about caring about the nature of that relationship. And that’s where so many narcissists have a problem. Some just don’t care, some ardently won’t care, and others simply can’t care.
Learning to love is largely what developing wholesome character is all about. And to properly master all the lessons required you also have to understand what real love is and isn’t. (See also: Things That Seem Like Love But Aren’t.)
Most narcissists can’t truly love for a variety of reasons. But what hangs them up early on is either their inability or their unwillingness to embrace the most fundamental requirements. First among these is developing a mindfulness about one’s manner of both being and relating. Folks of wholesome character have overcome the tendency to see themselves as the center of the universe. (This is a natural and normal inclination at our earliest stages of development.) Moreover, they’ve come to see others as more than mere objects to possess or to use as sources of personal gratification. (See also: The Possessive Thinking of the Disturbed Character and Narcissistic Controllers Use and Abuse.)
Narcissists and the Relationship Trap
It’s bad enough that most narcissists can’t truly love. But it’s even sadder that in our times it’s all too easy to get drawn into a relationship destined to be toxic. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that most narcissists are adept at positive impression management. That is, they know how to look good, as opposed to actually being good. So, you might find yourself powerfully attracted, only to learn later how unwise it was to open or to give your heart. But the second reason has to do with how unknowledgeable so many of us are about what real love is and how to properly vet character. And that’s largely the result of the cultural climate in which we find ourselves.
I’ll be discussing narcissism, the essential “commandments” of character and the obstacles to experiencing genuine love in a series of Character Matters podcasts. Use this link to access the latest episode.