Many, if not most people feel a deep inward need for intimacy. This desire can influence a lot of our decisions – it is real, and strong. If you doubt that, just look at the success of love songs or love story movies over the years. Of course the intimacy desired is with someone who is somehow “beautiful”.
One reason narcissists can so easily reel in unsuspecting people especially in a dating relationship is that they are very good at “doing” intimacy early in the relationship. And they push hard for instant intimacy. The narcissist’s “intimacy imperative” could be due to their strong drive to win you over quickly in order to achieve their ultimate self-serving goals. But, they could also be genuinely searching for intimacy themselves in order to fill gaps in their own soul – even though their narcissism will ultimately undermine the intimacy they seek.
When the narcissist has won you over, and then inevitably shows their true colors of selfishness and self-exaltation, it is an especially painful loss since you lost the intimacy that you thought you had finally found. The “intimacy” was never on a true foundation, but the sense of loss is nonetheless very real.
It is helpful to understand that it is partially our desire for intimacy that makes us vulnerable to the narcissist. This inward desire for intimacy is ok – and God-given. But instead of being a source of intimacy as we originally thought, the narcissist was actually the last person who was going to provide that intimacy. Our desire and search for intimacy contributed to our pain and sense of loss, but as we will see ahead is also the best way forward out of that pain.
Intimacy is the ability to share our deepest thoughts, feelings, dreams, goals, desires, cares, and concerns with an understanding, loving, kind, compassionate person who can somehow share in those deepest thoughts – while also sharing their own inward thoughts with us. Of course, there is the kind of human “intimacy” achieved through having a common cause – sports teams, work groups, military units, and even “bands of thieves” – but this is less than deep, heart-level intimacy.
While many are hoping for intimacy and searching for it, it ultimately is difficult to find due to the fundamental selfishness of man – including ourselves. Since narcissists are at the top of the “selfishness food chain”, they are actually the hardest people with whom to find intimacy – even though at first it appears to be just the opposite. Since the narcissist’s common cause is “himself”, there is virtually no possibility of intimacy between two people when one is a narcissist.
So the search for intimacy typically has at its foundation one selfish person trying to get another selfish person to give up their selfishness in order to meet his/her needs. With that as the starting point, intimacy is not likely to happen.
God knows we need intimacy, and wants us to have it. But He has designed a a better way to approach it.
Part 2 coming soon….
A caveat to the above discussion……
Its important to note that what we DO about our discovery that we are never going to have the intimacy we desire through our relationship with Mr. / Mrs. / Miss Narcissist (at least until they genuinely change, if ever) depends greatly on the nature of our relationship with them (see here). This discussion is not intended to provide an excuse to bail out on responsibilities. There is a path forward for every0ne, but the paths may differ based on the relationships involved.