For someone who avoids intimacy, is emotionally inadequate, gravitates towards infidelity, and is considered a novelty seeker, it’s really hard to understand why narcissists get married.

The truth is that narcissists get married to acquire enough narcissistic supply, regulate their emotions, fulfill their insecure need to be accepted by society, and to temporarily squash their fear of abandonment. 

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Narcissists Need a Scapegoat to Regulate Their Emotions 

As I mentioned before, narcissists are emotionally inadequate. Their inability to regulate their own emotions is precisely what drives their abusive behavior patterns. One of these abusive behaviors is called scapegoating

Scapegoating is a form of projection because a scapegoat is a person a narcissist projects all of their negative emotions onto. 

For example, a narcissist who is incredibly embarrassed that he/she never finished college may have a detestation for a family member who graduate from college. 


One of the ways a narcissist chooses a scapegoat is through jealousy. Because of the fragility of their egos, they spend their entire lives lashing out at those who they perceive as a threat

When you combine this with their emotional immaturity, just about everything becomes a threat. 

Circling back to the example I just gave, when a narcissist is in the presence of someone who appears to be more successful than they are, in this case their family member graduated college and they didn’t, it triggers their fears of inadequacy. 

How Does This Correlate With the Reason Narcissists Get Married?

If you were to drop a pack of Mentos into a soda bottle and close the lid as tightly as you could, it would explode. The only way to prevent it from exploding would be to take the lid off. 

Narcissists and their emotions are no different. With the amount of negative emotions they have suppressed within themselves, their inability to regulate their own emotions would cause them to implode if they didn’t have scapegoats.

Narcissists get married because when a narcissist gets into any type of relationship that requires commitment, they get a scapegoat for the foreseeable future. 

Narcissists Need Validation and Admiration

One of the most important things to a narcissist is narcissistic supply, the validation and admiration they receive from others. 

This insecure need for narcissistic supply comes from their emotional inadequacy and immaturity. 

There are different theories about how narcissists are created, but their emotional inadequacy and immaturity causes them to neglect their inner world, emotional stability, and focus on their outer world, the accumulation of materialistic things. 

Meaning that instead of building their self-esteem off of the way they treat other people, self-awareness, and their own emotional stability, they build it off of things like social media, money, appearance and so on. 

Because they’ve built their self-esteem off of materialistic things, their egos are incredibly fragile. Something as insignificant as not getting enough likes on a social media post, triggers their fears of inadequacy, activates their suppressed shame, and makes them feel worthless.

This amount of self-doubt, lack of self-awareness, insecurity, and vulnerability requires an environment of constant validation and admiration. What’s so ironic about this is that narcissists themselves are unappeasable, no amount of validation or admiration will be able to soothe their emotional instability. 

Even though it’s not enough, narcissists get married to fulfill their need for narcissistic supply. Depending on the type of narcissist, the way they accumulate narcissistic supply could manifest in different ways. 

An Insecure Need to be Accepted by Society 

A narcissist’s insecure need to be accepted by society is actually quite fascinating because it allows us to have a unique perspective of our shortcomings as a society. 

In short, we currently live in an era where we are expected to marry and have a family, therefore narcissists get married to fit in and be accepted by society. 

With that being said, when it comes to male narcissists, they’re insecure need to be accepted by society reveals our shortcomings when it comes to gender equality. 

A very common form of abuse in narcissistic relationships is financial abuse. 

We conducted a study where we interviewed 43 women who have suffered narcissistic abuse 39 of them either experienced financial abuse, or evaded financial abuse. 

How Does This Correlate With Society’s Shortcomings? 

Out of 39 of the women who had a run-in with financial abuse, 33 of them stated that their ex abuser attempted to coerce them into giving up their financial independence by essentially claiming that women are supposed to stay at home with the kids while men go out and work. 

This could be a coincidence, but given current events regarding gender equality, the hundreds of stories we’ve heard from women who suffered narcissistic abuse that we’ve connected with, and a narcissist insecure need to fit in and be accepted by society, we’re able to confidently believe that there is a strong correlation between financial abuse, narcissism, and the significant lack of gender equality our world suffers from today. 

Fear of Abandonment

The ideologies behind a narcissist’s fear of abandonment originates from the Attachment Theory by J. Bowlby and Mary S. Ainsworth back in the 1950’s, which is also one of the theories on how narcissists are created. Their work focuses on the relationships we form with our primary caregivers during our childhood. 

Their definition of a good caregiver is someone who is available, responsive, and consistent with the child. They suggest that failing to be the embodiment of those attributes, even for a small amount of time, will cause the child to look for other ways to call out to the caregiver, like crying. 

If the primary caregiver is still not available, responsive, and consistent after the child has tried to call out to them, then the child will experience despair. 

What they determined was that it’s very normal for children to be upset when separated from their primary caregiver, and easily soothed when reunited. But those who grow up with primary caregivers who are consistently unavailable and unresponsive, develop certain attachment styles.

What’s so interesting about this is that in recent years Cindy Hazan, PhD, has suggested that these attachment styles also apply in our adult relationships. 

She specifically spoke about the anxious attachment style because in adulthood, these are the type of people who are always concerned people don’t love them, inconsistent, rejecting and frustrated when their needs aren’t met. 

Because this definition has an undeniable correlation with narcissistic personality traits, it’s been speculated by many researchers that narcissists have anxious attachment styles, from a childhood of emotional instability.

This suggests that narcissists would be very upset when their partner leaves, and unappeasable upon their return. 

Almost as if they are still angry at their unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregiver from their childhood, and are projecting their anger onto their partners in adulthood.

To test this theory out, we conducted a study where we explained the Attachment Theory and attachment styles to 205 survivors of narcissistic abuse and asked them if they recognize any of the patterns within their relationships and this is what we found. 

This was one of our favorite studies because of how much insight it gives into the narcissistic realm. 

It has led us to believe that narcissists get into relationships to soothe their fear of abandonment, but are unable to do so because of their emotional inadequacy and immaturity. 

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

The truth is that narcissists lack the maturity, vulnerability, and authenticity required to maintain any type of healthy relationship. 

For narcissist, relationships are purely transactional. You are essentially a repository for their negative emotions because they’re too emotionally stunted to regulate the demons they have suppressed within themselves.

This is really hard to wrap your head around because narcissistic relationships aren’t always visibly abusive. They’re really good at using intermittent reinforcement to keep you trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle. Intermittent reinforcement is the delivery of a reward at irregular intervals.

Because narcissistic relationships are so emotionally starved, narcissists use empathy and compassion as the “reward.” 

They learn how much abuse you can endure while still being a sufficient source of narcissistic supply. Then the moment they feel you drifting away, they use intermittent reinforcement to drag you back into the relationship.

This feeling is insanely addictive. It actually activates your brain’s reward sector and floods it with dopamine. 

The same reaction that those with substance addictions experience. What ends up happening is that you stay trapped within the relationship because the narcissist becomes your only known source of happiness.

A marriage with a narcissist is a terrible thing to experience, but it happens because the narcissist in your life needs a source of narcissistic supply, scapegoat, and token piece to be accepted by society.

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.

Suggested Readings:

Why Do Narcissists Avoid Intimacy?

How Are Narcissists Made?