Research on Narcissism and Relationships
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People with narcissistic personality disorder often find that they have difficulty maintaining healthy, balanced relationships with others. This is often caused by the following aspects of their personality:
- Fragile egos
- Inflated self-worth
While relationships are usually difficult for narcissists to maintain, their partners often suffer from the following:
- Constant criticism
- Impossible demands
While people with this personality disorder can neglect their partners, they can also demand constant attention and support. The narcissist believes that he or she deserves the absolute best in life; when partners fail to meet those unobtainable expectations, the narcissist can become extremely angry or depressed.
There are five subtypes of narcissism,
as defined by Theodore Millon:
- Fanatic narcissism
- Elitist narcissism
- Amorous narcissism
- Unprincipled narcissism
- Compensatory narcissism
The elements of a narcissism relationship, therefore, can vary depending on the individuals’ unique combination of traits. Compensatory narcissists, for instance, often use passive-aggressive strategies to get what they want from a relationship. Fanatic narcissists, however, can assume heroic roles that put at the center of the relationship rather than an active partner in the relationship. People with narcissism are often treated with Schema Therapy, a system that combines elements of cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic approaches to therapy.