So much time, energy and emotion is spent trying to understand why emotional manipulators do what they do. The answer has never been a secret. It’s always been in plain sight, but perhaps due to its simplicity and our inability to relate, we shrug it off and continue the search for some way where we can blame ourselves.

Why do Narcissists make such terrible partners? Why are they so hurtful? The answer is of course empathy, or rather a lack there of.

Empathy is defined as – the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings and thoughts of another, of either the past or present, without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. – Webster

The DSM tells us that psychopaths lack empathy and that a Narcissist’s ability to feel empathy is impaired.  This means that they cannot understand or have concern for the feelings of others.

Why are Narcissist’s so self-centered?  – Because your feelings, your needs do not compute. It’s as if they are emotionally color blind, thus, missing colors in their emotional color palette.

What does a relationship look like with someone that lacks empathy?

Lack of Empathy Symptoms in a Romantic Relationship

Everything is always about them. Your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants are not considered, unless they serve a purpose.

Emotional Manipulators ruin the holidays, birthdays or any special event that is important to their partners. They do not like to share attention and therefore, do not care to be a part of anything that doesn’t thrust them in the spotlight. They have an expectation to receive and feel uncomfortable with the concept of giving. They will, on occasion give, but the gift will often be off somehow, usually not exactly what you wanted or asked for. They do the absolute minimum in terms of effort, when it comes to bestowing something that does not directly benefit them.

When their partners are ill or have some type of pain or injury, the Narcissist will view this as an inconvenience to them and either be bothered by it or ignore it. They are not caregivers. They don’t do nurturing – unless it’s to get praise by others – “Look at how great Tom is being while Anne gets over her appendicitis.”

They are they never wrong, so don’t expect to get an apology. You will always be wrong, and they will always be the wronged party.

No issue is ever resolved. They thrive in ambiguity. When you can’t pin them down for a time or a decision they can never be held accountable when they disappoint. Disappointment is what they do. Don’t expect to be able to count or rely on them for much, unless there is a benefit to them.

They have a real problem discerning cause and effect. They cannot see a link between their behavior and your reaction. They will look at your reaction to what they’ve done as the problem, rather than their behavior.

Because of their fear of abandonment, they will try to control you through emotional, psychological and sometimes physical abuse. They will not care how this abuse affects you. They will not care if they have traumatized you, hurt you or that they are grounding your self-esteem into dust. The effects of their abuse do not generally even register with them.

Even if a Narcissist targeted you because of your wealth, business, fame, talent or connections, they will quickly start to resent you for these things. They are not supporters. They don’t do the cheerleader role. They will try to assert their control and methodically try to take over and try to take credit for your success, by undermining, demeaning and manipulating.

They will attack you verbally, emotionally sometimes physically if they feel that their ego is being threatened. You will usually be their emotional punching bag when things go wrong for them.

They have no interest in your growth and expansion. They don’t care about what’s best for you, your happiness or success. They will try to suppress these things, to maintain your compliance and their control.

They will make it very unpleasant for you to maintain outside relationships with family and friends. They want you there, focusing and serving them. They don’t want you to get any ideas, any hint of a better life. They don’t want people that love you to reach out and give you options, so any time you want to go out and socialize without them there will be a problem.

They will think nothing of flirting, spending time with or giving attention to another in your presence. They seek to be revered and the center of attention, it will not compute that their behavior is inappropriate or upsetting you. In fact, they will thrive on pitting one against the other, a term called triangulation. They love the feelings and attention that your jealousy gives them.

Nothing is ever equal. On matters that they care about they will insist on complete domination. In matters that don’t, they will not lift a finger to help or compromise.

They will not love you for you. They will constantly be trying to change you. They will criticize you and never let you feel comfortable in your own skin.

Their presence and energy will dominate your space. You won’t be able to work or focus on your own projects.

You will never be able to trust them. You will walk on egg shells because you will never know what’s coming or when the next shoe will drop. There is no relaxing, only high stress and anxiety.

You will never feel truly loved. You will never feel comfortable. You will never feel safe.


Why didn’t your relationship work? Stop searching. Stop looking for a way to make it your fault. If your relationship resembled many of the above behaviors, it’s time to stop obsessing. Stop the FBI analysis and start accepting the truth. Your relationship didn’t work out because you were involved with someone who has a Personality Disorder. It never had a chance.

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