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Narcissists or people who have narcissistic personality disorder have a difficult time holding down intimate relationships. And while many factors could be to blame, there are seven major reasons why narcissists struggle in this arena.

If you have ever met a narcissist, then you likely realize how self-absorbed they can be. The disorder is characterized by a strong sense of grandiosity, a lack of empathy for others, and a constant need for admiration. We could just stop there, but the reasons why they can’t hold down an intimate relationship go far beyond that definition.

1. The narcissistic ego.

Narcissists exhibit a grandiose sense of self, and in turn, their egos are huge. During an argument with anyone, they do not apologize. And this can spell trouble in a relationship, where compromise is necessary. Eventually, the person they are trying to be with will either get tired of trying to compromise with a brick wall, or the relationship will reach its end organically because there is no working room.

2. They cannot take criticism.

Narcissists go into defense mode at the slightest hint of criticism, no matter how constructive it is. And relationships require a certain level of criticism because two individuals are never going to have the same views on anything. Since relationships require the two people to grow together, it should come as no surprise that an intimate relationship will be difficult in a situation in which one person is always right (or thinks they are.)

3. Narcissists are abusive.

While it isn’t always intentional abuse, narcissists have a way of handling interpersonal relationships that can seem abrasive. Much like bullies, their ego hides their damaged self-esteem. Because while they may appear to have a grandiose sense of self this is to hide and protect themselves. In turn, they bully others and wield power over those closest to them to feel better about themselves. This does not make for a good relationship.

4. They lack empathy.

To have a good relationship, you must have compassion and empathy for your partner. Not only does this help you connect intimately, but it also helps us to be aware of when we are acting in a way that causes harm to our partner. Since narcissists lack empathy- connecting and maintaining some level of self-awareness to their toxicity is nearly impossible.

5. Most narcissists don’t seek treatment.

To heal or at the very least cope and adapt to a mental disorder or personality disorder, you have to seek treatment. And narcissists aren’t likely to be able to see a problem with themselves – if they do, they aren’t likely to admit it. Narcissists are all about preserving their image, and seeking treatment is a major blow to their ego. Without therapy, at the very least- the prognosis for a narcissist isn’t typically a good one.

6. They expect far too much from their partners.

Narcissists view others as an extension of themselves- but they hold their partners to a much higher standard than they do themselves. Since they want to be perceived by society as perfect, they will likely hold their partners to a standard of perfection that is unreachable. This can become quite frustrating to their partners, wh obviously cannot be perfect (because no one can, not even the narcissist.)

7. There is no us.

In a relationship with a narcissist, the narcissist can only see themselves. Their partner isn’t an individual with needs, wants, feelings, and desires, (to the narcissist), instead they are as I said above, an extension of themselves. And if their partner isn’t doing their bidding, they will quickly turn against them.