Have you ever wondered what narcissists want in a relationship?

If so, you’re not the only one. Many of our community members have asked us about this, so I looked into it, and here’s what I found.

For narcissists, the purpose of getting into a relationship is to secure narcissistic supply, which is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control narcissists use to maintain a positive self-image.

In this post, I’ll guide you through those five elements of narcissistic supply to help you understand what narcissists want in relationships.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

1) Validation

In a relationship, narcissists crave validation above almost everything else.1 

This means they want to be assured repeatedly that they are important, successful, in control, and desired. 

A narcissist wanting to be assured that he is important and successful.

It’s similar to someone constantly needing to hear how well they’re doing in a game instead of just enjoying it. 

For a narcissist, this validation acts as a fuel that keeps their self-esteem running. 

They look to their partner to affirm their worth, choices, and view of the world, often disregarding the partner’s needs in the process. 

This constant need for validation can put a ton of pressure on the relationship and make the partner feel more like a cheerleader than an equal.

2) Admiration

Alongside validation, narcissists deeply desire admiration in their relationships.2 

They don’t just want to be told they’re loved; they want to be looked up to and adored. 

Think of it as wanting someone to not only enjoy their cooking but also to praise it as the best they’ve ever had, even if it’s just a simple meal. 

Narcissists want their partners to admire them for their talents, appearance, intellect, or any other attribute they pride themselves on. 

This admiration feeds into their sense of superiority and supports their belief that they deserve special treatment and acknowledgment beyond what is considered normal reciprocation in a healthy relationship.

Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Want to Be Admired and Praised?

3) Reassurance

Narcissists seek reassurance in their relationships.3

They need constant affirmation that they are loved, secure, and not at risk of being abandoned. 

It’s like needing someone to repeatedly check the locks on a door to feel safe, even if there’s no real threat. 

This need for reassurance isn’t just about love; it’s about quelling their deep-seated insecurities and fears. 

They rely on their partners to provide this reassurance, often through compliments, loyalty, and signs of commitment. 

However, because their insecurity runs deep, no amount of reassurance ever feels quite enough, leading to a cycle where the narcissist continuously seeks more to feel secure.

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

4) Power

Narcissists seek power in their relationships, wanting to be the one who makes all the important decisions and sets the rules.4 

It’s like being the captain of a ship who insists on steering the course without taking input from anyone else on board. 

They enjoy having the upper hand, dictating how things should be done, and often expecting their partner to follow without question. 

A narcissist expecting their partner to follow without question.

This quest for power is not just about being in charge; it’s about affirming their dominance and superiority. 

In their eyes, having power means they are respected and influential, which is crucial to their self-image. 

However, this can lead to a very one-sided relationship where the partner’s needs and opinions are overshadowed or completely ignored.

5) Control

Control is another crucial element narcissists look for in a relationship.5 

They want to control not just the major decisions but often the day-to-day aspects of their partner’s life as well, including who they see, what they wear, and where they go. 

Think of it like someone trying to program every detail of a TV to match their preferences but ignoring those of anyone else who watches it. 

This need for control stems from their deep-seated insecurities and fear of vulnerability. 

By controlling their partner, narcissists believe they can avoid being hurt or abandoned. 

Unfortunately, this controlling behavior can be suffocating for the partner, making the relationship feel more like a cage than a partnership built on mutual respect and love.

Suggested Reading: Why Are Narcissists So Controlling?

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


Thank you so much for reading this article. 

I hope it offered you valuable insights into what drives narcissists in relationships.

Now, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Have you ever been in a relationship with a narcissist?

Or perhaps you have observed the dynamics above in the relationships of those close to you and wondered how to support them effectively.

Maybe you have questions about identifying narcissistic behaviors early in a relationship or strategies for handling them.

Either way, I encourage you to share your experiences or inquiries by commenting below. 

Your insights and questions enrich our discussion and help others who might be navigating similar challenges.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Zeigler-Hill, Virgil, Erin M. Myers, and C. Brendan Clark. “Narcissism and self-esteem reactivity: The role of negative achievement events.” Journal of Research in personality 44.2 (2010): 285-292. ↩︎
  2. Padraic Gibson. (2023. June, 7). Narcissism: The Self Admiring, Successful Failure. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/escaping-our-mental-traps/202306/narcissism-the-self-admiring-successful-failure#:~:text=Individuals%20with%20narcissistic%20traits%20may,to%20special%20treatment%20and%20privileges. ↩︎
  3. New York University. (2021. March, 25). Narcissism Driven by Insecurity, Not Grandiose Sense of Self, New Psychology Research Shows. New York University. https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2021/march/narcissism-driven-by-insecurity–not-grandiose-sense-of-self–ne.html ↩︎
  4. Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Ali Mohammad Beigi Dehaghi, “Narcissism and psychological needs for social status, power, and belonging,” Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 210, 2023. ↩︎
  5. Lee, Eunsoon, and Hyoung-Kil Kang. “Narcissism and perspective taking: The mediating effect of need for control.” Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal 48.7 (2020): 1-7. APA ↩︎

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