Healing from narcissistic abuse is an extraordinarily demanding journey. More often than not, it requires you to willingly walk into the unknown day after day because after months, years, and even decades of narcissistic abuse, you’ve lost sight of the core values that made up your identity. This journey is made even harder when you feel like you still love the narcissist in your life and have no explanation as to why. 

You could still love the narcissist because they still have characteristics that you’re attracted to, you haven’t let go of the wish for things to be different, the distance has triggered a misguided sense of love, or because you have a corrupted definition of love.

If you want to have a successful healing journey then you have to grasp a comprehensive understanding of the reason why you still love the narcissist in your life. The love that you feel for the narcissist is never going to be reciprocated so understanding the reasoning behind your feelings will help prevent you from slipping back into the narcissistic abuse cycle. 

Suggested Reading: Can Narcissists Love?

a victim of narcissistic abuse falling into the abuse cycle

4 Reasons Why You Still Love the Narcissist

Before we unpack these four reasons that you still love the narcissist in your life, it is important that at the very least you’re aware of the possibility that the love you feel for the narcissist isn’t really love. We spoke about this much more thoroughly in our article Can You Love Someone That You’re Trauma Bonded To but we strongly believe that it is not possible to truly love a narcissist. 

The reason being that narcissists use mirroring to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life. We’ll speak about this more later on in the article but what this means is that the closeness, passion, and commitment you feel for the narcissist is actually towards an imposter, not an authentic lover. 

In our opinion this means that you’re in love with an illusion, a false idea or belief about a person who doesn’t exist. Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone. It is just something that you should consider while reading the rest of this article. 

The Narcissist Has Characteristics That You’re Attracted To

Outside of all of the manipulation and deception, narcissists do have characteristics and personality traits that many people find attractive. They could be really good athletes, have a great sense of humor, be great artists and so on. As evil as their behavior may be, they’re still human beings with characteristics and personality traits that you may find attractive. 

One of the most common ways that this unresolved attraction gets triggered is when victims of abuse “check up” on the narcissist. For example, scrolling through their social media profile, asking mutual friends and family about them, or reaching out to them themselves. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse asking a friend about her ex

You Haven’t Let Go of the Wish For Things to Be Different 

One of the most manipulative tactics narcissists use is called mirroring. In the beginning stages of the relationship a narcissist will absorb a ton of information about your identity and use it to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life. 

What mirroring does is it manipulates you into envisioning a happy, healthy, and secure future with the narcissist. It makes you feel as if you’ve finally met someone who sees you for you. It causes you to develop a special and unique connection for this person that you may not be ready to let go just yet. 

That’s not all…

The information that a narcissist gets from mirroring allows them to use many other forms of abuse that are designed to pull you back into the narcissistic abuse cycle. You can learn about all of them in our article How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring but we’re going to specifically focus on something called hoovering. 

When a narcissist does or says exactly what you need to see or hear to give them another chance after you’ve either left or are planning on leaving the relationship, it is called hoovering.

Hoovering is a powerful form of manipulation for victims of abuse who are still unpacking the complexity of the narcissistic abuse cycle. More often than not, hoovering is a bundle of grand gestures that are designed to swoop you off of your feet and trigger your sense of hope of having a healthy, happy, and secure future with someone you love. 

Psychotherapist Heather Kent

These grand gestures that narcissists use during the hoovering phase could manipulate you into believing that there’s still a tremendous amount of love between the two of you. 

The Distance Has Triggered a Misguided Sense of Love

After months, years, or even decades of having your emotions, feelings, thoughts, and needs consistently invalidated and minimized to the point where your entire life revolves around one person, their absence is likely to cause a massive void in your life. 

One of the most common reasons that distance triggers one’s misguided sense of love is a narcissist’s ability to move on so quickly. 

For narcissists, relationships are merely a tool they use to soothe their emotional instability. Their emotional stability is terribly dependent on the narcissistic supply, validation, admiration, and reassurance that their victim gives them. 

It’s for this reason that they often already have a new source of supply, another man or woman, lined up before they’ve even ended the relationship with their current source of supply. 

The thing that makes a narcissist’s ability to move on so quickly a hard pill to swallow is that when they move on, the narcissistic abuse cycle starts all over again. Meaning that the person that they discarded has to watch them idealize and love bomb the new source of supply.

Suggested Reading:Why Does the Narcissist Look So Happy With Their New Supply?

A victim of narcissistic abuse who is still in love watching her ex move on quickly

What this does is it makes the discarded victim feel as if they’ve made a mistake because they begin to wonder how could the person who was so abusive to them the previous month do a complete one-eighty and be charming, charismatic, empathic, happy, and thoughtful for another person the next month.

Being in this position can be incredibly destabilizing and you could find yourself feeling like you still love the narcissist in your life and the relationship is still worth fighting for.

Suggested Reading: Should You Warn the Narcissist’s New Supply?

You Have a Corrupted Definition of Love

One of the most common reasons that people find themselves in a narcissistic relationship in adulthood is because they have a corrupted definition of love and narcissists are very good at using mirroring to exploit this. 

For example, someone who has grown up in an unhealthy/abusive environment with unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers is going to have an extremely corrupted perception of what love and healthy relationships are.

This type of upbringing will cause them to naturally gravitate towards abusive relationships simply because they’re familiar. 

So, when they cross paths with a narcissist who is invalidating, devaluing, dehumanizing, and chaotic, it fills a void in their life because they’ve never experienced true love or a healthy relationship.

Without the guidance of a qualified professional this person could very well find themselves jumping from one abusive relationship to the next because toxicity, unhealthiness, and abuse is all they’ve known. 

Under these circumstances, the likelihood of the victim of abuse equating narcissistic personality traits with love is very high. For example, it is very common for narcissists to feel entitled to having power and control over their victim even after they’ve discarded them. 

A narcissist feeling entitled to having his ex

This could manifest in the form of the narcissist criticizing and being jealous of the victim’s new partner, stalking the victim, flaunting their new supply all over social media talking about how happy they are, or even showing up to the victim’s house/place of work unannounced.

If one were to have a corrupted definition of love, a narcissist’s abusive behavior could be mistaken as interest, commitment, passion, special, or even unique. It could make the victim feel as if they share a bond with the narcissist that only comes around once in a lifetime which would trigger feelings of love and passion.

Having a corrupted definition of love pushes victims of abuse to equate the abuse with love. Under these circumstances the best thing to do would be to seek out the guidance of a qualified professional immediately so they can help the victim reconstruct their definition of love.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Narcissistic relationships are so emotionally deprived that it usually doesn’t take much effort on the narcissist’s end to trigger your hope of having a healthy, happy, and secure relationship with someone that you truly love. 

It’s for this reason that it is important to remember that more often than not the “love” that narcissists have is infatuated love which is purely motivated by passion characterized as intoxicating, irrational, associated with bad decision making, and usually short lived.

This “passion” is a passion for themselves. The feeling they get from having power and control over others is exhilarating for them. That said, it is very common for victims of narcissistic abuse to still love or miss the narcissist but they owe it to themselves to identify the reasoning behind their feelings and seek out a qualified professional to dismantle them.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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References

Strutzenberg, Claire. “Love-bombing: a narcissistic approach to relationship formation.” (2016).

DISCLAIMER

THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. 

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