You might not think that a narcissist really wants to be around anyone, given the way they act. They often seem to be annoyed by the people to whom they are close. Moreover, they often seem to lack the ability to commit to a long-term relationship. As a result, they typically marry several times over the course of their lifetime. So just why do narcissists get married in the first place?
There are several benefits of marriage for narcissists. They want a steady source of narcissistic supply, it props up their public image, they might be religious about, it satisfies their need for drama, and they love the spotlight. These are just a few of the many reasons why they desire marriage.
If you’re considering marriage to a narcissist or know someone who is, you really want to read more about their underlying agenda. Let’s explore these 11 reasons why a narcissist might want to get married so you can be fully informed about their true intentions.
1. A Secure Source of Narcissistic Supply
Narcissists don’t have a healthy sense of identity. They have constructed a false self-image and infused it with grandiose ideas about their superiority, but that false ego can’t support those delusions of grandeur.
The narcissist needs other people to do that for them. They need an almost constant supply of adoration to maintain their false ego. That is called narcissistic supply, and what better source than a spouse for that constant praise.
Narcissists expect their spouses to always put their needs first and to always sing their praises to their friends and family members. Failing to do so will get you a heaping helping of narcissistic rage.
They also don’t return the favor. They are often unwilling to recognize their spouse’s good qualities or talents. To them, their spouse’s role in the marriage is to support them while their role is to shine.
It’s a very one-sided relationship, to say the least, and on top of that, they will manipulate and emotionally abuse their spouse just like they do with everyone else in their life. For the narcissist, a spouse is a great way to get their needs met without having to put any energy into the relationship themselves.
This is a primary reason why narcissists get married. It’s also why they want to marry quickly after initiating a relationship and why they will remarry quickly after the loss of a spouse.
2. Societal Acceptance
Narcissists have created an image that they are superior to other people. They are perfect, and they want to be accepted by society in general as just that. They are very aware of what society considers normal and acceptable, and they want to live up to those expectations.
That provides them with a strong impetus to marry. It’s what society expects of people, and if they are superior and perfect, they should certainly have no problem with this. Narcissists care about what other people think about them.
They don’t want to call into question the grandiose ideas they’ve infused into their false self-image. On the contrary, they will do everything in their power to bolster that false self-image.
Most narcissists are also painfully aware of the informal timeline that exists for these big life events like marriage. They know that society expects people to be married by a certain age and start a family relatively soon after their nuptials.
They also know that people tire of them after a while. Though they may write that off to other people’s jealousy or inadequacy, they know that can happen with a potential spouse. For these reasons, they will often push their partner to marry quickly before they can discover the narcissist’s true nature and before society begins to question their ability to seal the deal.
The unspoken stigma that still exists for divorced individuals is also what prompts a narcissist to remarry quickly and initiate a smear campaign against an ex-spouse. This is all to preserve their social standing. To them, a failure in this regard can jeopardize their identity.
3. Familial Acceptance
Aside from fulfilling society’s expectations, the narcissist seeks to show their family how great they are and how irresistible they are too. The narcissist is not just trying to prove their worth to strangers in the broader culture, they are also proving themselves to their family.
This is particularly true if the narcissist is a product of parental rejection and neglect. If their parents were constantly critical of them as a child – a common cause of narcissism – then they may be trying to earn their parent’s respect.
Sometimes the childhood trauma that has caused narcissism is a reason why the narcissist is always trying to prove themselves to their family. They may be pushing back against feelings of inadequacy generated by overly critical or neglectful parents.
They may be screaming out for attention from the people who abused them in childhood. This is a common result in abusive situations as psychiatrists and neuroscientists have shown with research conducted in 2010. Their work details the problems with attachment that occur as a result of maltreatment in childhood.
Narcissists are known to have an avoidant or anxious attachment style. This can make them fearful of loss, but it can also make them punish someone who has left them alone. That attachment insecurity the narcissist experiences with abusive parents makes them constantly desirous of earning their approval.
In fact, this type of early childhood abuse even alters the genetic expression of certain genes associated with behavioral outcomes. It just goes to show how damaging this kind of abuse can be. The effects can easily last a lifetime.
4. Image Protection
Above all else, the narcissist wants to protect their image. They have spent a long part of their childhood constructing a grandiose image of who they want to believe themselves to be. It’s easy to see that traumatized inner child compensating for the shame and self-loathing their childhood experiences have caused.
The image they produce is one of superiority and perfection. It’s a coping mechanism to provide them with the perfect self-image in place of their damaged true self. They then proceed to manipulate people around them to validate that false self-image.
Anything that threatens that false self-image also threatens to expose the truth about the narcissist. They threaten to expose their damaged nature. Such exposure would create a mental breakdown known as a narcissistic collapse.
That’s why they take whatever steps are necessary to promote their false self-image. This includes marrying the ‘right’ person and marrying them quickly. They feel a heightened need to protect their image by doing whatever they have come to believe is consistent with the unrealistic image they’ve created of themselves.
It’s another reason they are anxious to marry quickly. They want to show everyone that not only are they perfect and superior, they are also desirous, so much so that a potential spouse is anxious to marry them.
Everything for a narcissist is about their image. Since they’re reliant on external validation to prop up their self-image, they want to do what they have come to believe proves they are all the grandiose things they have claimed.
5. Fear of Abandonment
The narcissist’s insecure attachment style makes them fear the loss of loved ones through abandonment. At a deep level, they believe themselves to be inherently unworthy and unlovable.
That’s why they often marry to secure their spouse and ensure they won’t be abandoned. Occasionally this fear shows through the narcissist’s facade. My friend who’s married to a narcissist has told me on more than one occasion about how panicked her husband becomes when she threatens to leave the house during an argument.
While she only wants a cooling-off period, he fears she won’t return at all. On one occasion, there was a friend staying at their house and when she left after a heated argument, the narcissist meekly asked her friend, “What if she doesn’t come back?” The friend reassured him that she would be back; she just needed time to settle down.
Of course, she did return, but it was clear he was terrified she would not. On these rare occasions, you can see that damaged child crying out in fear. It doesn’t justify their behavior, but it does explain at least part of it.
If you’re not married to a romantic partner, it is much easier for them to leave. That’s part of why narcissists want to seal the deal with marriage. It makes it harder for their spouse to abandon them.
While the narcissist doesn’t think about these strategies in a conscious manner, they are guided by their fears. They know that it would make them feel more secure if they were married.
6. To Show Up Their Friends
Narcissists are also very competitive. They are constantly comparing themselves with the people around them. This is due to their need to be externally validated, but also to continuously prove to themselves that they are superior.
Because of this, narcissists want to show that they can get everything their friends have and that what they have is even better. They want to be able to have a marriage like their friends have and to have an even better spouse.
It’s the ultimate in keeping up with the Joneses. They feel as though they can show how perfect and superior they are by getting what their friends have, only with better quality. That’s why their spouses must love them more. They must be more beautiful or more handsome, and they must be utterly devoted to the narcissist.
They also want a trophy spouse. They want someone who is physically attractive, intelligent, and successful. But that person cannot steal the spotlight from the narcissist. They should be someone befitting a superior being, but not someone who outshines that being.
It’s a tall order, and like with their other relationships, the narcissist has unrealistic expectations of their spouse. If you are the spouse of a narcissist, you won’t be able to live up to these expectations. That’s why the narcissist will eventually come to devalue their spouse.
They will, at some point, become harshly critical of their spouse. This is when many spouses will leave the narcissist, but if not, the narcissist themselves may initiate a discard. They usually do this when they have someone else waiting in the wings. That relationship will also go through the same phases of idealization, devaluation, and discard. It is a pattern with the narcissist.
7. It Denotes Ownership
To the narcissist, marriage is the ownership of the other individual. As the spouse of a narcissist, you belong to them, at least in their mind, you do. Ownership means you can’t choose to abandon them. Of course, you can, but marriage does make it much more difficult.
Not only does the narcissist own you, but they also own all that comes with you. They truly do see your two lives merging into one, the narcissist’s life. You become more clearly an extension of their own identity, and your possessions become their possessions as well.
This gives the narcissist a more secure feeling in their identity. It enriches them and allows them to compare themselves even more favorably to the people around them. Ownership is the only way a narcissist can make themselves believe they are more secure.
Of course, it doesn’t work, and so the narcissist continues to exhibit dysfunctional behavior, but this is why they want to marry quickly and stay married. The idea of ownership gives them more structure in their life, and that’s something that makes them feel more secure.
This is why the narcissist is quick to marry and reticent to divorce. My friend who is married to a narcissist speaks often of how he constantly wants reassurance that she belongs to him. He’s seeking security in their relationship because he can’t find it within himself.
You can imagine just how difficult it must be to live with this level of insecurity, but it’s the essence of why the narcissist behave as they do. They live in an almost constant state of fear that they will be exposed as a flawed being.
They will be shown to be inferior as opposed to superior. Ownership of a spouse and possessions gives them a sense that can’t happen.
8. For Religious Purposes
Another part of a structured life that helps the narcissist feel more secure is having a strong religious belief. Many narcissists are raised in abusively religious homes, and they use their religious beliefs as a foundation for structuring their world.
When they are religious, they compete for God’s attention as well. They want to show they are more religious than anyone else in their world, and they often tout their pious superiority in religious circles.
As a part of their religious beliefs, they may believe they need to marry. They might believe this is necessary in order to have sex or children. They may even see it as a commandment from God.
Religious narcissists are typically as strict in their beliefs as they are in other parts of their lives. They try to convince everyone that they are holier than anyone else while simultaneously feeling inferior on a deep level. Still, they see religion as their salvation.
They use it to make themselves feel more secure. No matter who else abandons them, God will not leave them behind. They frequently become the zealots who demand that everyone conform to their belief system. They certainly expect that of their spouse.
They also will commonly use their religion as an excuse for their abusive behavior. They subject their families to a strict code of ethics, and as in other parts of their life, they have unrealistic expectations.
9. To Be in the Spotlight
Narcissists not only want to be in the spotlight, but they also need to be in the spotlight. They require constant external validation, and the only way they can ensure they get it is to remain in the spotlight.
Marriage puts them in the spotlight when you get married, and then, the narcissist can remain in the spotlight with their spouse. At least, that’s what motivates the narcissist to get married.
They are in the spotlight for their friends and family all the time they are planning their wedding, and of course, on their wedding day, everyone is focused on the couple. After the wedding, however, the attention fades and the narcissist turns to their spouse to continue feeling as though they are in a spotlight.
It’s usually not enough for the narcissist, which is also why they commonly have extramarital affairs. It creates drama in their life – another thing the narcissist loves – but it also keeps them in more than one person’s spotlight.
They can also use their marriage as a way of getting attention. They can complain about married life to their friends and family or highlight their growing family. They can continuously invent new ways to use their marriage to keep the people in their life focused on them.
10. For the Love of Drama
Another thing a narcissist can use their marriage for is to create drama. They love to create drama in their life because it makes them feel powerful. They like knowing they can upset the apple cart and get everyone to focus on them by manipulating a dramatic situation.
They will do this throughout their marriage, but they will also use divorce as a way to create drama. It also focuses their friends’ attention on them as they go through a difficult stage of life.
A narcissist really can’t go very long without creating some kind of drama in their life. They thrive on it because it catapults them into the spotlight. Whatever situation they’ve contrived, they can use that to get their friends to worry about them and be focused on their life.
To generate drama, they may start an argument over nothing. They will often provoke their spouse using little more than an imagined slight. Their discard of their spouse is another source of drama, as are their often multiple affairs.
It definitely creates a difficult life for the spouse of a narcissist. They are constantly dealing with drama. It’s often part of why they ultimately leave their narcissistic spouse.
11. For the Convenience
Another thing that narcissists get out of life is the convenience of having someone to share the load with. They have someone to share expenses with and who can also share the chores of daily living. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for narcissists to put the majority of the workload onto their spouse.
They want their spouse to take on the majority of what it takes to live, from being the one to earn the money to being the one to do the laundry. The only person you can reasonably expect to do that is a spouse.
Narcissists are so focused on maintaining their false self-image that they lack interest in doing almost anything else. While they can rise to the top in their profession, they typically do so by taking credit for the work of others and blaming their coworkers for their own mistakes.
They do the same kind of thing within the context of a marriage. They want to have their spouse do the majority of the work, whether that means earning the money or doing the housework. They also don’t want to have to do the work associated with raising children.
In reality, a narcissist has little interest in anything other than maintaining their grandiose self-image. It occupies much of their thought processes and actions. They are expert manipulators, and they love to create drama. That actually takes a lot of work and planning.
That’s what they would much rather focus on as opposed to earning a living or doing housework. They believe they are entitled to have those things done for them, and a spouse is the only person who will do it.
A narcissist has many reasons why they get married, and most are not out of love for a potential spouse. While we can’t know what they really feel on the inside, it is clear that the narcissist has difficulty expressing love. They focus instead on manipulating their spouse into doing what they want. They often use their spouse’s emotional triggers and old wounds to do this, and it can be very effective.
You can combat this tactic, though, with my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. This free guide can help you recognize your old emotional wounds and the triggers that resulted from that early trauma. It can also help you defuse those triggers and even heal your trauma. Just click on this link, and I’ll send this guide directly to your inbox. You can get started on healing those wounds today and stop narcissistic abuse in its tracks.
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