Children of narcissists and their romantic relationships

I have been struggling really long to find some information about how having narcissistic parents would impact one’s adult relationships. My wish to find information stemmed partially from the fact that I am addicted to information (it feels like power :)) and partially because I just wanted some understanding. Finding someone writing about other people with the similar background struggling with what I am is incredibly comforting. So I finally found this study ( It is a good one, but also nearly 200 pages, so let me just summarize what I picked up from there.

People with narcissistic parents choose a partner who makes it easy to feel insecure in the relationships. This might mean choosing partners who one thinks are better than they are, highly critical parnters or emotionally unavailable partners. Man can I relate. The love of my life was in my mind so above my league that I spent years trying to get to his good graces. He was also quite critical and always left me feeling that I had somehow failed his standards.

The study also mentions that children of narcs (ACON) are usually the ones that breakup and avoid showing feelings of vulnerability in the relationship. This might be connected to the feelings of intense inferiority that these children feel when compared to their partner. Again something that I can relate acutely based on my own experiences.

Thirdly, the study mentions that acons struggle with intimacy in the relationships. It is quite difficult to establish intimacy when one is not really certain who one is. Narcissistic familes namely never allow the child to develop their own sense of self. Furthermore, they also teach children that they need to hide all their negative qualities (feelings) and paint a good face.

One other interesting point that the study makes is that acons get easily bored in relationships. Man, and I thought it was only me and something was terribly wrong with me! One of the reasons is probably found in the saying “I would never join a club that would accept me as a member”. The partners, as soon as they show fondness to acon, get devalued. There is a certain need for that chase which was carried out with parents who never quite gave their love.

Apparently acons also have unrealistic expectations in relationships. My guess is that these children are trying to find in their partners what they never found in their parents (I almost accidentally wrote parents instead of partners, so that should serve as a sufficient proof). Additionally acons seem to make relationships the focus of their lives.

Finally, playing roles and putting on a false mask seems to be the common habit of acons as well. This probably stems from the feeling that one’s true self (if it is even know) can never be valued. Hence acons read the needs of the partner and try to preform according to what they expect their partner to want. This, in long run, of course becomes tiring, so ending relationships might be a strategy used when one feels one can not hold on to the mask anymore.

This was my short summary of the study and I find that it very well describes what I have been experiencing over the years in my romantic relationships. In the future I plan on describing these themes as they developed in my own relationships



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