One of the reasons that the warning signs of forthcoming abuse narcissist’s often display in the beginning stages of their relationships goes unnoticed by the people that they are abusing is because of how quickly the narcissists are able to convince both themselves and others that they are falling in love.

Narcissists fall in love quickly because their definition of love is corrupted. They are only capable of infatuated love, which is purely motivated by passion and it is intoxicating, irrational, associated with bad decision making, and usually short lived. This causes their relationships to be fast-paced.

This article is going to explain the reason that narcissists fall in love so quickly, clarify the meaning of true love and explain why narcissists are incapable of it, and point out some of the behavior patterns that narcissists use to manipulate you into believing that they truly love you.

Why Do Narcissists Fall In Love So Quickly?

To truly understand narcissist’s ability to “fall in love” so quickly, you first must realize that they aren’t actually falling in love. According to the Triangular Theory of Love1 there are three elements of love: passion, intimacy, and commitment. True love, the love that you want and deserve, consists of all three elements and it is called consummate love.

To achieve consummate love, there needs to be a lot of mutuality, respect, honesty, vulnerability, security, compromises, and commitment. These are all qualities that narcissists are incapable of, which is why the “love” that they fall into so quickly is infatuated love.

Now that you have a clear understanding of true love it is time to dive deeper into the reason that narcissists fall into an infatuated love so quickly.

Narcissists Have a Corrupted Definition of Love

Understanding the story behind a narcissist’s corrupted definition of love is important because it helps explain the reason that narcissists are so eager to fall into an infatuated love so quickly.

While there are different theories pertaining to the origin of narcissism, it is believed to originate from an unhealthy and/or abusive upbringing. Our article How Are Narcissists Made is a thorough exploration of each theory but this childhood upbringing consisted of primary caregivers who were emotional unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent.

This level of emotional neglect is what corrupted a narcissist’s perception and definition of love. You see, children are naturally prone to be empathic and moral2 but the emotional neglect prevented the narcissist from having their healthy and natural tendencies mirrored by their primary caregivers.

This is a huge problem because without a healthy emotional mirror (e.g. validating a child’s emotions by acknowledging them instead shaming them for having emotions), the narcissist never got the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed to develop a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.

a lost narcissistic child

In addition to this, the narcissist also developed a deeply rooted hatred for themselves because the neglect led them to believe that their natural tendencies and true identity made them unlovable, unwanted, weak, worthless, and inadequate.

This really solidified the narcissists corrupted perception and definition of love because they were neglected into developing a deeply rooted hatred for the fundamental requirements of love/healthy relationships (e.g. emotional closeness, honesty, mutuality, etc.)

Unfortunately, things only get worse from here because the unhealthy cognitive development that narcissists had left them so emotionally stunted and immature that they’re incapable of using healthy forms of emotional regulation to manage the painful emotions that they’ve developed about themselves.

In response to this, narcissists designed a falsified identity to accumulate validation, admiration, and reassurance from their external environment so they could create a self-perception powerful enough to suppress their painful emotions. This self-perception, also known as their public persona, is charming, successful, innocent, honest, desirable, goodhearted, charismatic, and virtuous.

But because creating a falsified identity is such an emotionally stunted and immature approach to constructing a sense of self, it is extremely fragile and needs a consistent flow of narcissistic supply, also known as validation, admiration, and reassurance, to remain intact.

Over time, the fundamental requirements for true love (e.g. emotional closeness, honesty, mutuality, etc.) become a foreign concept to narcissist and they develop an unhealthy belief that true love is having enough narcissistic supply and all of their needs met.

They develop an extremely transactional approach to the relationships that they form and they wholeheartedly believe that they are entitled to using other people to fulfill their own selfish needs. 

To sum up everything that has been laid out for you so far, the reason that narcissists “fall in love” with you so quickly is because the neglect they experienced as a child corrupted their perception and definition of healthy relationships/love. They don’t know what true love is, they are just acting off of impulses.

a narcissist pretending to love his girlfriend

When this corrupted perception and definition of love is combined with their insecure need for narcissistic supply, interpersonally exploitative behavior, and sense of entitlement to having what they want, when they want it, it creates many powerful narcissistic behavior patterns that manipulate you into believing that they are truly falling in love with you.

How Do Narcissists Manipulate You Into Believing That They Are Falling In Love With You?

To outline narcissistic behavior patterns that narcissists use to manipulate you into believing that they are falling in love with you, we’re going to focus on the love bombing phase.

The love bombing phase is a phase in the beginning of many narcissistic relationships where a narcissist will use mirroring and future faking to manipulate you into believing that they are the “perfect” person for you, and as a result of all this, they push you into a state of cognitive dissonance. The combination of all three can make you truly believe that they are falling in love with you!

Mirroring

When it comes to narcissistic abuse, the term “mirroring” refers to a narcissist absorbing an extraordinary amount of information about your identity and using that information to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life.

We highly recommend that you read our article How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring to grasp a comprehensive understanding of mirroring in different types of narcissistic relationships (family, work, friendship) but here we are going to focus on mirroring in romantic relationships.

In a romantic relationship, a narcissist mirrors your definition of the ideal love. They’ll ask you a lot of questions, spend a lot of time with you, get you really nice gifts, do nice things for you, etc., but it is because they want to understand exactly what you’re looking for so they can become your “Mr. or Mrs. Perfect”.

What mirroring does is it embeds a thought in your psyche that the narcissist could be the person that you’ve been waiting for. They could be someone who you can be the best version of yourself with. To turn this thought into something more tangible, narcissists use future faking.

Future Faking

A future fake is when a narcissist makes a false promise for the future to get exactly what they want in the present. A verbal future faking is pretty straightforward, it occurs when a narcissist makes a false promise (e.g. “I can see myself having kids with you” or “Don’t worry about money, I can support you and help you pay off your debt.”)

A narcissist future faking her husband.

A nonverbal future fake is the falsified identity that narcissists created during the mirroring phase. By learning the ins and outs of your identity and using that information to portray themselves as the “perfect” person for you, narcissist manipulated you into believing in a happier, healthier, and more secure future that doesn’t exist.

As we mentioned before, future faking helps narcissists manipulate you into truly believing that they are the key to growth, happiness, and becoming the best version of yourself. But it also allows them to manipulate you into feeling like they are an emotionally/physically safe person to be around so you don’t set boundaries that would prevent them from gaining power and control over you.

Suggested Reading: How to Respond to Future Faking

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a theory that suggests when we experience a major inconsistency amongst belief, information, and behavior, it causes us to experience a lot of psychological tension. To ease this tension, we have a tendency to change one or more of the elements causing the inconsistency to make everything consistent.

In narcissistic relationships, cognitive dissonance is the normalization, rationalization, and justification of abuse and it is to blame for the continuation of many narcissistic relationships.

The reason that mirroring and future faking play a massive part in the initiation of cognitive dissonance is because when a narcissist is mirroring and future faking you, they are showing you the behavior and giving you the information that you need to see to develop a belief that they are someone that you can be the best version of yourself with.

Once they realize that they’ve sold you on those lies, they are going to begin their abusive pursuit of validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control. This means that they change the behavior and information, leaving you with only the belief that they are someone that you can be the best version of yourself with.

A victim of narcissistic abuse stuck in a state of cognitive dissonance

Our article Why Do Trauma Bonds Feel Like an Addiction has a lot of important information about this process that you should check out but at this point of the relationship narcissists have so many manipulate techniques to bully you into justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing the abuse on a daily basis.

This blindness to reality that narcissists force you into causes you to misinterpret their manipulation as someone falling in love with you. Once this happens, the narcissist gains a tremendous amount of power and control over your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs that will keep you trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle for months, years, maybe even decades.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Narcissists fall in love quickly, but it isn’t true love, it is infatuated love. This happens because the emotional neglect they experienced as a child corrupted their perception and definition of love. They don’t know what true love is, all they know is they need a consistent flow of narcissistic supply.

The narcissistic behavior patterns they use to chase the narcissistic supply that they need are designed to manipulate you into believing that they are falling in love with you and truly care about your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. They don’t, it is all just one big illusion.


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

[1] Sternberg, Robert J. “A triangular theory of love.” Psychological review 93.2 (1986): 119.

[2] Children Are Naturally Prone To Be Empathic And Moral