Are Narcissists Happy?

Narcissists are often said to be the happiest people with regards to what they feel and how they think about themselves.

However, are they truly happy and satisfied with their lives? We asked experts to share their insights.

Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil

CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics

Narcissists are less likely to be depressed than people who are not narcissists

A study made by researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast revealed that narcissists, with their inflated sense of self-importance, are less likely to be depressed than people who are not narcissists.

Despite the fact that narcissists are toxic people—they only care about themselves, engage in risky behavior, and show little empathy for others—they are described as “mentally tough” and don’t experience much shame, which makes them less susceptible to perceived stress and symptoms of depression.

The study showed that grandiose narcissism is related to positive components of mental toughness, such as goal orientation and confidence. The conclusion is that although not all dimensions of narcissism are good, some aspects of it can result in positive results.

The researchers made an important distinction, however.

The results of the study apply to grandiose narcissists, who have an over-inflated sense of importance and preoccupation with status and power. The same can’t be said for vulnerable narcissists who are rabidly insecure and unusually sensitive to feeling slighted, ignored, and disrespected by others.

Ike Kalson

Ike Kalson

Co-founder, Live Narcissist Free

It seems that long-term fulfillment is very difficult for narcissists

While there’s a lot of speculation in this space, it seems that while narcissists can be happy, this is often a fleeting feeling. It seems that long-term fulfillment is very difficult for narcissists.

Origins of behavior

Narcissists have deeply-rooted insecurities, often stemming from childhood. They may have been raised by narcissists and never found a way to heal or cope with that.

As a result, they need constant attention to temporarily overcome these insecurities.

However, given their lack of self-growth and their need for external attention, they lack the internal maturity to feel satisfied where they are and enjoy the moment. To be happy, they need to take someone else’s energy.

Happiness in the short-term

Even when they feel happy by manipulating someone to give them something (whether that be attention, money, or anything else of emotional or monetary value), this happiness quickly fades away.

They fall back to their internal cognitive dissonance and turmoil. Thus, they constantly need to sabotage others to maintain a base level of happiness, but even then, it’s a distraction from their very disturbing inner reality.

Happiness in the long-term

Real, long-term fulfillment is very difficult for narcissists to achieve. Even if they have manipulated someone to constantly give them attention, they will eventually grow bored and sabotage the relationship.

Given that their behaviors are often harmful to themselves (such as destroying financial assets or a relationship with someone stable), they always fall down to their lows.

These personalities always need something more, so even if things are going wonderful, they will never be satisfied.

Katie Ziskind, LMFT

Katie Ziskind

Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling

Some narcissists may be very happy and may feel content

Some narcissists may be very happy with themselves, happy with their lives, happy with their relationships, and may feel content. Narcissists in this category tend to look on the bright side, focus on everything being good, and honestly may not even acknowledge that there is bad stuff going on in the world.

Some narcissists who are happy with themselves are forward thinkers.

Narcissists in this category:

  • May have received therapy and intensive counseling
  • Learned about narcissism in their family history
  • Aware that they have narcissistic tendencies
  • Actively be working on improving their mental health from a place of self-compassion and self-awareness.

Not all narcissists act in narcissistic ways, but mostly narcissists who do not have awareness about their behaviors will continue to act in very narcissistic and dysfunctional ways. With the help of a therapist, a person who has narcissism can learn to be aware of these tendencies in these traits and can focus on living a happy and centered life.

There may be some narcissists who are also very unhappy with themselves

On the other hand, there are some narcissists who are very unhappy with themselves and deeply benefit from improving self-esteem.

These narcissists may be stuck in a dysfunctional cycle such as yelling and criticizing both themselves and others, putting people down, and may even consider themselves living in misery.

These narcissists may be struggling with turmoil around their own parents, who may also be narcissistic, who has childhood memories of trauma and might even be struggling with addiction, alcoholism, or substance use.

Related: How a Narcissistic Parent Affects a Child

Narcissists in this category may have regrets about the past and feel insecure about themselves deep down and therefore tend to take a powerful upper hand around others.

The group of narcissists who are unhappy with themselves may also be numbing out, running from emotions, avoiding emotional pain, and trying to fill a void of insecurity and loss within themselves with alcohol, drugs, or substances.

Patti Wood, MA

patti wood

Body Language Expert | Speaker

What makes narcissists “happy” is different

Years ago, I was dating a charming, malignant narcissist and broke up with him.

One of his arguments in his plea to keep me was that I could not break up with him because he always has to start a new business when someone breaks up with him — otherwise, the emptiness in his life makes him feel like he is in a deep void. He said he already had multiple businesses and did not want to start another one.

He didn’t say what he liked and loved about me. Instead, he shared the emptiness he would feel without me in his life and equated that with the fulfillment of starting and business.

Not very romantic, but it does show how Malignant Narcissists view their happiness met by a supply of stimulation filling a void. Malignant narcissists feel happy when they are fed well with Narcissistic supply.

What makes them “Happy” is different. They don’t feel the normal human emotions of love, bonding, and empathy. Those parts of their brains don’t light up. Instead, their brains light up when they are admired and feel they can control others.

They are happy, creating negative emotions in others.

They are puppet masters. Normal (low score on a continuum) narcissists can receive pleasure and happiness, making people happy. For example, a normal narcissists actor derives pleasure from the applause of a delighted audience watching them perform.

However, the malignant narcissist pleasure centers light up when they see or create intense negative emotions like drama, fear, pain, and discord in others.

These emotions create the MG’s “Narcissistic Supply.” Because they lack those loving bonding emotions, they often report feeling empty. When they are not “fed” with their supply, they describe feeling like they are in a deep dark endless void.

Dr. Brenda Wade

Brenda Wade

Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Advisor, Online for Love

Studies suggest that Narcissists are actually happy and less stressed

Believe it or not, studies suggest that Narcissists are actually happy (and less stressed), which is kind of a dichotomy since it seems their main focus is on making other people unhappy.

Some reasons why Narcissists are happy include:

  • They are more mentally tough than others and are very confident in themselves.
  • They believe they are superior, so they have an overinflated sense of self.
  • They deflect issues and faults onto others and do not take responsibility for their own actions.
  • They have a grandiose delusional sense of self-importance.
  • Narcissists are usually quite successful individuals and are often leaders, CEOs, and top execs due to their driven personalities and strong desire to be the best and most successful. If you can buy happiness with money, then they are most definitely happy.

Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen Sehat

Registered Clinical Counselor, Well Beings Counselling

Narcissists exhibit a sense of confidence that cancels out all negative feelings of stress

Narcissists tend to have grand delusions about their worth and authority. They also don’t feel any shame or guilt. Despite these traits, psychologists say that they are happier than most people.

According to research conducted by Queen’s University Belfast, narcissists are mentally tougher and have lower rates of depression and stress. This is because they believe that they deserve the best in life.

A narcissist’s self-confidence and self-importance act as a shield. Thus, they don’t feel bad about themselves. Although narcissists have negative traits like an over-inflated ego, characteristics such as mental strength, confidence, and goal orientation help them succeed.

Additionally, narcissists exhibit a sense of achievement and confidence that cancels out all negative feelings of stress and depression. As a result, they are way happier than others around them.

Jod Kapilakan

Job Kapilakan

CEO, Abundancenolimits

People who are happy with themselves never seek validation and attention

I would like to label narcissists as children who had unmet needs and less attention during childhood. They become so self-centered and develop a grandiose image among others to grab the limelight because they were never appreciated enough in their childhood.

They become insensitive in the search for attention and torment those who don’t give them what they need. They are never really happy because people who are happy with themselves never seek validation and attention.

Denay Nicole

Denay Nicole

Spiritual and Transformation Coach | Owner, Denay Nicole Coaching

Narcissists are happy when they get their way

Narcissists are happy when they are receiving validation, recognition, admiration, or getting their way.

Their emotions are very shallow, so it is very easy for them to go from happy to angry to sad very quickly. Their happiness is extremely tenuous, and they lack the resilience to stay in a state of a positive mood. It is like walking on thin ice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes a Person to Become a Narcissist?

Narcissism is a complex personality trait that can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Genetics may play a role in the development of narcissistic traits by influencing a person’s temperament and disposition. Some research suggests that a tendency towards grandiosity and self-absorption may run in families.

Early childhood experiences can also play a significant role in the development of narcissistic traits. Children who are overly pampered, constantly praised, or receive too much attention from their parents may develop an inflated sense of self-importance. On the other hand, children who experience neglect, abuse, or trauma may create a sense of insecurity and become preoccupied with their image and reputation in an attempt to protect themselves.

Lastly, some psychological factors may contribute to the development of narcissistic personality disorder, including childhood trauma or abuse, low self-esteem, or a need for control and power.

Do Narcissists Ever Feel Guilty?

Narcissists have a limited capacity for empathy, which affects their ability to understand the impact of their actions on others. As a result, their guilt is often centered on their personal problems and fears rather than genuine remorse for the harm they may have caused.

In some cases, narcissists may feel guilt as a means of manipulating others. They may feign remorse or guilt to gain sympathy, get out of trouble, or avoid punishment. This type of guilt is not genuine, and narcissists only use it to achieve their goals.

Overall, it is difficult to say whether narcissists ever feel genuine guilt. It depends on the individual and their specific personality traits. However, it is important to note that how they experience guilt differs from how non-narcissistic individuals experience it.

How Does a Narcissistic Person’s Behavior Affect Their Romantic Relationships?

A narcissistic person’s behavior can greatly affect their romantic relationships in negative ways. They often have a strong need for admiration and attention from their partners and can become upset or aggressive if they do not receive it.

Narcissistic individuals often have difficulty with empathy and may not consider their partner’s feelings. This can cause the partner to feel neglected or unsupported, leading to a breakdown in the relationship.

Moreover, a narcissistic person may engage in acts of infidelity, gaslighting, and manipulation, making the relationship an unhealthy and toxic environment. They may also become jealous and possessive, causing the partner to feel trapped or suffocated.

How Do Narcissists Show Love?

Narcissists can show love in ways that appear genuine, but it often serves a hidden agenda or lack of genuine empathy. Here are some ways that narcissists may display affection:

Love Bombing: They may shower the object of their affection with intense attention, flattery, and gifts. This can create a sense of obligation or indebtedness in the person, allowing the narcissist to later exploit or manipulate them.

Idealization: The narcissist may put the object of their affection on a pedestal, idealizing them and making them feel special. However, this often leads to feelings of inadequacy or disappointment when the person inevitably falls short of the impossibly high standards set by the narcissist.

Triangulation: The narcissist may compare their partner to others or make them feel jealous in order to maintain control and a sense of superiority.

Projection: The narcissist may attribute their own negative traits to the object of their affection, blaming them for problems in the relationship or the narcissist’s own shortcomings.

It’s important to note that the love shown by a narcissist is often not genuine but rather a means to an end. They may use their charisma and charm to manipulate and control others, making it difficult for those around them to see the truth. 

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