I recently saw a question on quora where someone was asking if love can change a narcissist and turn them into a better person. That was an interesting question but the answers they were getting seemed to come from people who were quite unfamiliar with how narcissists think.
Some people try to change their narcissistic partner using criticism but find that criticism can only make matters worse, and wonder if displaying love and affection towards their narcissistic partner would have the opposite effects.
No matter how harder they try, they end up disappointed simply because change has to come from within. Of course it’s possible to change a narcissist or anybody else but unless they are fully convinced that they will get some benefits when they change, they will not be motivated to change.
Most people understand the fact that someone would easily change if they believe it’s beneficial. This makes them think that a narcissist would use the logic “I need my partner’s love but my narcissistic behaviour turns them off, if I change, they would love me more.” That’s pretty logical but you have to consider that they also calculate what they would lose if they changed.
Can a Narcissist Change Because of Love
Love can change a narcissist by making them more or less narcissistic depending on the interpretation they give it. Most narcissists believe that they are lovable, charming, and impressive. When they find that someone is deeply in love with them, they usually conclude that it’s all because of their charming personality, good character, looks, or any other advantage.
They usually make this conclusion whether it may be true or false simply because it helps them achieve the goal of superiority that they are always after. In my previous articles I said that narcissists need to feel superior so much to the extent that they can see distorted reality as long as it helps them feel good. This interpretation of love makes them fall in love with themselves when they find that someone loves them. This can make them even more narcissistic.
On the other hand, some narcissists believe that their unique personality is what attracts the opposite sex. That’s quite true because most people get attracted initially by their charming personality, love bombs, and all the good characters that they display in the beginning of a relationship. This can make it impossible for them to change because of believing that their traits deserve love.
When Love Can Change a Narcissist
It’s wrong to assume that love can never bring some positive changes in a relationship with a narcissist.
If a narcissist values the relationship, if they greatly depend on their partner for self-esteem and feeling important about themselves, if they believe they would lose a great deal if the relationship ended, this can motivate them to change. But keep in mind that some narcissists would never want their partner to notice that they want to change because they value them that much. This would imply that their partner has the upper hand and this is against their goal of superiority. Although, some narcissists can pretend to have changed just to keep their partner closer.
A narcissist who is really interested in changing would want to make it look like it was their own decision rather than an influence from their partner, even if the opposite was true.
An important point to consider here is that even if they would see benefits associated with changing, believing that changing would make them look less dominant, less superior, or somehow subordinate can prevent them from changing. That’s why you can’t motivate a narcissist to change by criticizing them and showing them their faults. When you criticize them, they perceive it as an attack on their superiority and this will automatically make them defensive (See: how to help a narcissist change)