It might seem like two narcissists would never be together because narcissists are all about receiving attention and adoration, not giving it. Their self-centered nature makes it seem like a narcissist needs someone who is more of a people-pleaser like a codependent or an empath who wants to help them heal.
While it is true that narcissists are very self-absorbed and need a constant narcissistic supply, it does happen fairly frequently that two narcissists will meet and date each other. It can go really well for a while, but like most relationships involving a narcissist, it usually falls apart.
Read on if you’re interested in learning more about the dynamics of a relationship between two narcissists and why their relationship usually becomes very volatile following the love-bombing phase.
Why Might Narcissists be Attracted to Each Other?
When you think about it, two narcissists could easily be initially attracted to each other, particularly grandiose narcissists. These kind of narcissists are all about showing off their perceived talents and accomplishments and being in the limelight.
As Dr. Ramani notes, in the beginning of a relationship, both narcissists are “excited to give the big gestures, to receive the big gestures, post about the big gestures, so it really, really works out well until the day comes when, as narcissists always do in relationships, they start to get a little bit bored and a little bit contemptuous.”
In the initial love-bombing phase when narcissists are all about impressing the person they’re interested in, they shower them with praise. This is exactly what another narcissist wants, and they are happy to give that kind of adoration right back. As the relationship wears on, however, they inevitably get bored, and that’s when the trouble starts.
What Happens as the Relationship Between Two Narcissists Progresses?
Dr. Ramani might have put what happens as the relationship between two narcissists progresses best when she said, “It’s like putting two cats in a bag.” Typically, what happens is that one of the two narcissists gets bored before the other one. It can also happen that one of the narcissists is not able to give as much narcissistic supply to the other one. Another thing that can disrupt their relationship is if something happens in one of their lives.
In any of these situations, as tension builds in the relationship, both narcissists become more careless about how they are speaking to the other one. This isn’t unusual as that’s what narcissists do with any partner in a relationship. Their lack of empathy prevents them from understanding how insensitive their comments might seem to the people around them.
When their partner is another narcissist, however, their hypersensitive nature means they will react emotionally and often with their characteristic rage. When they react to the insensitivity of their partner, that causes a similar reaction in their partner, and from there, the relationship deteriorates. It typically ends quite badly.
Can Two Narcissists Actually Love One Another?
While it’s difficult to imagine, there is evidence supporting the idea that two narcissists can form long-term relationships, and surprisingly, the research shows that narcissists demonstrate what is called a positive assortative mating pattern.
That essentially means that like is attracted to like, so while you might think that it would be more common for a grandiose narcissist to form a relationship with a vulnerable narcissist, in this case opposites don’t attract. It is actually possible and more common for two grandiose narcissists to form lasting relationships.
These are two people who are simply unable to put their partner’s needs above their own, but still, they are able to form a relationship that lasts. This might be because their similar personalities are more important than their ability to complement each other, particularly when there are two people with undesirable traits involved.
Some people refer to this kind of relationship as the “Bonnie and Clyde” effect. These two exploitative, impulsive, and essentially antisocial soulmates have found each other and that’s what keeps them together even if they can’t trust one another.
It’s also possible that after spending years in the dating game, they’re all that’s left for each other. After being dumped by other non-narcissistic partners because of their distortions, lies, and narcissistic manipulation, they gravitate to one another as a kind of last resort, and they find in each other someone they can understand even if they can’t completely fulfill each other’s needs.
Do Narcissistic Relationships Progress through Stages?
Just like any other relationship, the relationship between two narcissists progresses through certain stages. As psychologist, author, and narcissism expert Elinor Greenberg states, “Narcissists can do very well in the early stage when everything is wonderful and like a dream come true.”
That early stage is what you likely know as the honeymoon stage. All relationships pass through this stage, but because of the love-bombing that is typical of narcissists, for two of them in a relationship, the honeymoon stage can genuinely feel like heaven on Earth.
Greenberg notes, “As narcissists, they are likely to develop a “Twinship Love Transference” in which they believe that they are special and alike in all ways, and their love for each other is unique.”
But like any other relationship, the two narcissists soon become aware of how they differ, and because of narcissistic rage and a lack of empathy, their arguments can become extremely volatile and ugly. Each believes they should be getting exactly what they want. Many narcissistic couples break up at this point.
If they don’t break up, they enter the stage known as the struggle where they try to get their partner to change. As narcissists, they will devalue and criticize each other toward this end.
If they survive the struggle, they arrive at the acceptance and mourning stage where they accept that they will not get everything they want from their partner and they make peace with that reality.
Most narcissistic couples that make it to this point will decide it’s worth it to stay together because they really do like and care for each other. These stages are the same for any relationship, but the intensity of emotion, the devaluation, lack of empathy, and constant criticism make each stage more extreme for narcissists.
It does happen that two narcissists will date each other, and they may even go on to form long-term relationships. It’s not very common, however, given that they both want their needs met and don’t want to concern themselves with the needs of their partner.
When two narcissists are attracted to each other, it more often happens they are of similar types of narcissism, something called positive assortative mating. They can become a very dysfunctional, but somehow functional, couple in these cases as evidenced by Bonnie and Clyde. While it seems unbelievable, they can even stay together for a lifetime.
If you found this interesting, you might also want to learn more in this post about if narcissists can remain faithful in their romantic relationships.
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