Do Narcissists Like to Cuddle?

Have you ever wondered if narcissists enjoy cuddling with their significant other? The answer might not be what everyone thinks. Some believe that narcissists will also show affection or intimacy, while others claim the opposite.

This article will explore the idea of whether or not narcissists enjoy cuddling, according to experts.

Dr. Kibby McMahon

Kibby McMahon

Clinical Psychologist, A Little Help For Our Friends Podcast

They like to cuddle more than or less than the average person

On one level, narcissists probably like to cuddle more than the average person, but on another level, they probably want to cuddle even less.

When we talk about “cuddling,” we’re also talking about intimacy in general, physical or emotional. Narcissists have a stereotypical exquisite personality and a deep vulnerability that longs for social approval, belongingness, and connection to others.

However, they have distorted beliefs about what they need to achieve or what qualities they may have in order to attain that connection.

For example, many narcissists were raised in environments where they were taught that they were only loved if they were special, high-achieving, or exhibited high status somehow.

So, they focus all their energies on cultivating those qualities in constant pursuit of that approval, admiration, and even love from others. Knowing this, they crave closeness and even cuddles from other people as it would soothe their deep-seated insecurities.

Related: Why Are People Insecure?

They are notoriously uncomfortable with normal forms of intimacy

On the flip side, narcissists are also notoriously uncomfortable with “normal” forms of intimacy, like cuddling. As much as they crave closeness, they also feel insecure, untrusting, and dissatisfied with common expressions of care.

Like their beliefs about themselves, they also believe that romance should be unique:

  • full of infatuation
  • drama
  • high status
  • or even perfection

They struggle to feel comfortable with the forms of love with a partner

Because of these ideals, narcissists struggle to feel comfortable with the day-to-day forms of love with a romantic partner, like making meals together, talking about complicated feelings, or snuggling on the couch.

They will tend to avoid intimate cuddle

Feeling vulnerable with someone else can also trigger their anxieties of being judged or rejected. So as much as they crave an intimate cuddle, they will also tend to avoid it. That’s the sad existence of a narcissist.

Elijah Akin

Elijah Akin

Founder, Unfilteredd

Narcissists do not like to cuddle because of their anxious attachment styles

Narcissists do not like to cuddle because they lack the vulnerability, authenticity, and emotional stability to truly enjoy something as intimate as cuddling because of their anxious attachment styles.

An anxious attachment style is one of three pillar attachment styles in the developmental model called the attachment theory created by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the 1900s.

The attachment theory focuses on the relationships we form in our childhood with our primary caregivers.

Both Bowlby and Ainsworth believe that a child needs at least one responsive, available, and consistent primary caregiver to create a solid foundation for healthy cognitive development.

What does this have to do with a narcissist?

The attachment theory focused on children’s responses when separated from their primary caregivers. By analyzing the children’s response under these circumstances, Bowlby and Ainsworth outlined the three pillar attachment styles: secure, avoidant, and anxious.

  • Secure attachment style – refers to distressed children separated from their primary caregiver but regained their emotional stability upon their primary caregiver’s return.
  • Avoidant attachment style – refers to children who do not get upset when separated from their primary caregiver and actively avoid them upon arrival. This is a very common attachment style among those with consistently unresponsive, unavailable, and inconsistent primary caregivers.
  • Anxious attachment style – refers to very anxious children when separated from their primary caregiver and nearly impossible to soothe when reunited with their primary caregiver.

The anxiety these children have under these circumstances causes them to be stuck in an oscillation between wanting to be comforted by their primary caregiver and want to punish their primary caregiver for the separation.

Related: The 4 Different Types of Attachment Styles

What do anxious attachment styles have to do with narcissism?

After the brilliant work of Bowlby and Ainsworth, researchers Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver revealed that these attachment styles continue in adulthood.

Adults with anxious attachment styles fear abandonment, are insecure about their relationships and need to be constantly reassured.

When you combine these three dynamics with a person oscillating between wanting to be comforted and wanting to punish others for leaving, you begin to see its correlation with a narcissistic person.

You see, some of the most significant driving factors for narcissistic behavior patterns are:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Insecurities/vulnerabilities
  • Need for the validation, admiration, and reassurance they work hard to accumulate from others.

The most important distinction between someone who has an anxious attachment style and a narcissist who has an anxious attachment style is that they’re very immature emotionally due to a narcissist’s unhealthy/abusive upbringing.

This immaturity has led them to believe that their fears, insecurities, vulnerabilities, and a need for reassurance are the most disgusting traits a human could have.

This is very problematic because those four characteristics I just listed above are vast parts of a narcissist’s true identity, which is why they’re the most self-loathing individuals on the planet.

So, what do they do?

They spend their entire lives fabricating an identity that society believes they will accept. So, they suppress all of their negative emotions to maintain the falsified identity that they believe portrays them as successful, attractive, admirable, and worthy.

Narcissists avoid cuddling because it causes their true identity to shine

This means that narcissists avoid intimate things like cuddling because it causes their true identity to shine through their falsified identity. The identity that has a fear of being alone, fear of rejection, and a constant need for reassurance outshines the falsified identity they’ve built to hide the things they hate about themselves.

Related: How Does a Narcissist Handle Rejection and No Contact

Narcissists avoid intimacy because it contradicts their falsified reality, and due to their emotional immaturity, they’re unable to manage the emotional distress that comes with one’s identity being contradicted.

As with many things in the narcissistic realm, there are no absolutes. There may be a narcissistic person out there who does enjoy cuddling or other intimate activities.

However, as a general rule, narcissists lack the authenticity, vulnerability, and emotional stability to enjoy intimacy as much as a non-narcissistic person would genuinely.

They will manipulate in any kind of activity

It’s important to remember that when a narcissist engages in any type of activity with someone else, they are participating in “said activity” with manipulative intent and/or for a sense of control.

They will find someone to satisfy their needs

Consequently, the answer isn’t as black and white as “yes” or “no.” If this person needs cuddles to feed their ego, then the answer is “yes,” and they will find someone to satisfy this need whether or not the other person is willing.

They may pretend to enjoy it

If this narcissist doesn’t personally enjoy cuddles, they may still engage or pretend to enjoy it if they know the person they want to control likes cuddling.

It’s also important to note that the body releases the “bonding hormone” oxytocin when you cuddle with someone.

All narcissists engage in a cycle of mental and emotional abuse, which includes:

  • idealization (lots of affection and love)
  • devaluation (withholding love)
  • rejection (pushing the partner away)

And then the cycle repeats

They focus only on meeting their own needs

The bottom line is a narcissistic person focuses only on meeting their own needs. If they like to cuddle, they will. If they don’t like it, they may still engage in the activity if they know their “victim” likes it.

Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester

Neuropsychologist and Owner, The Narcissistic Life

They are likely to cuddle during the love-bombing phase

Narcissists will be very affectionate during the love-bombing stage of a relationship, as they shower a person with love and affection. They are likely to cuddle during this stage, as it is an excellent way to develop a physical and emotional connection with their partner.

However, after the love-bombing phase, the intention of cuddling changes.

They like to cuddle to stop an argument

Often, narcissists will use affection tactics to get what they want. They may use affection to stop an argument if they are feeling rejected or as a way to get their partner back on board if they threaten to leave.

Ultimately, like cuddling, affectionate behavior is used as a selfish tool by narcissists.

They use it as tactics and for their own benefit

It is impossible to generalize all narcissistic behavior, as some will like to cuddle, and others won’t. With that being said, you will find that cuddling is just one of many tactics that narcissists will use for their own benefit.

Narcissists will struggle to be genuinely intimate with their partners as they cannot empathize or understand their needs.

Dr. Lea McMahon LPC, EdD

lea mcMahon 1

Chief Clinical Officer, Symetria Recovery

Cuddling boosts their ego and makes them feel good

Yes, narcissists love to cuddle, but it’s always about them. They enjoy being showered with love because it boosts their ego. Receiving affection from their partner makes narcissists feel that they are perfect in every way. It also makes them feel good about their physical appearance.

But you shouldn’t expect anything in return. That’s because they only focus on themselves and how others perceive their bodies. So, they wouldn’t really care about you or your needs.

Cuddling makes them feel powerful and controlling

Activities such as cuddling make a narcissist feel in control of the situation and their partner’s feelings. This makes them feel powerful and fuels their already inflated ego.

It might feel very romantic to the partner, but in all reality, it’s just a means to make them feel empowered. In severe cases, narcissists crave that power and control so much that they even end up cheating on their partners.

Narcissists like to do anything you want in the beginning

Narcissists like anything you like in the beginning. They will do and say anything you like to win you over first. So if you want to cuddle, they will want to cuddle.

They will do the romantic lovey-dovey thing, so you’ll feel like you’re soulmates. But as soon as they know they’ve got you— game over. From then on, withholding becomes the name of his game.

Narcissists will purposely withhold affection because they know it’ll hurt you. They know you’ll become desperate and try very hard to win their affection back. And now they know exactly what you like and how much.

Narcissists will use it against you to keep their power over you

Narcissists will use it against you to keep their power over you. They will intermittently give you some cuddles again, but most of the time, they won’t.

When they do cuddle now, you’ll feel so rewarded. It will feel so amazing at that moment, like a drug addict who just got her next fix. You will become desperate for that next fix.

When you question why they don’t cuddle, they’ll say they don’t like it or make up some other excuse. But this isn’t logical because narcissists cuddled all the time in the beginning.

If you bring this up, they’ll get mad, turn it back on you, or say another answer that doesn’t make sense. As time goes on and your life becomes further entangled with his, it becomes harder to leave.

From here, the cuddling becomes less and less. Until it eventually becomes nonexistent.

Dr. Brenda Wade

Brenda Wade

Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Advisor, Online for Love

Cuddling makes them feel vulnerable and exposed

Bears like to cuddle, but that doesn’t mean it is safe to cuddle with them. Narcissists are much the same. You are looking for intimacy and a sense of closeness and connection.

A narcissist doesn’t like closeness and connection because it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed, which is something a narcissist does not want to be.

At the beginning of the relationship, a narcissist may love bomb you and give you all sorts of attention, kisses, and cuddles, but don’t mistake this for real love. It is a façade to get you to do whatever they want to lift themselves higher.

Related: Do Narcissists Enjoy Kissing?

Don’t get me wrong; they love the attention from you and reinforcement of how great they are, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is because they value you and want a deep romantic relationship with you.

The reality is they simply do not care about you and only want to be put on a pedestal while they quietly break you and your relationship down over time.

Back to the bear, the best practice when seeing a bear is to go the other direction. The same can be said about a narcissist.

Dr. Craig Beach

Craig Beach

General and Forensic Psychiatrist | CEO and Founder, Open Mind Health

It depends on their emotional state and motivation

It depends on the narcissist’s emotional state and motivation. For example, they may cuddle, but the reason may be more self-interest and self-serving than reciprocal intimacy and connection.

Narcissists are commonly very charming, but they “blow hot and cold.” For example, “hot” may appear charming, sweet-talking, attentive, idealizing “anything for you baby,” but this is a veneer.

“Cold,” on the other hand, may be withholding, punitive, passive-aggressive, and abusive. The difference often occurs when the narcissist suffers a perceived “narcissistic injury” ⁠— when their ego is compromised ⁠— such as an insult, questioning their judgment, authority, or power, or their insecurity is triggered.

Not so deep down narcissists have an extremely fragile sense of self, and they overcompensate to project and protect.

Sameera Sullivan

Sameera Sullivan

Relationship Expert

They cuddle to be satisfied with their desires

Narcissists love receiving love and thrive when they’re the center of attention. Expect them to be spoiled with a passive partner – never satisfied with what they’re receiving.

It’s an endless list of desires, and you’re often conflicted with your dynamic, unsure as to whether you can meet them and satisfy your partner. That’s why it’s expected to see them love cuddling – but that’s not all.

It’s not a two-way street

Don’t expect to receive most or any of the love you express (depending on where your partner lies on the spectrum, of course). It takes a lot of effort to fulfill their desires, cuddle them, and appreciate their minds and bodies.

They bask in this love but can’t reciprocate it to a healthy extent. They’re going to be so focused on themselves that they won’t have time to pay attention to you.

However, based on experience, they’re not all cold all the time. It’s imperative to catch them at the right moments for reciprocation – but then you have to ask yourself, are this relationship and effort really worth it?

Cuddling is quite the norm for all healthy relationships, keeping the pair together and growing their bond. If this kind of fundamental, essential element is missing from your relationship, you might be dealing with a narcissist.

Related: 35+ Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

Michelle Devani

Michelle Devani

Founder, lovedevani

Narcissists will use cuddling to get what they want from you

Dating a narcissist can be confusing and, at times, frustrating. Although the truth hurts, dating and relationship experts like me believe that narcissists don’t view physical contact as intimacy or mutual satisfaction.

They view cuddling as a means to lure you in and exert power over you. For them, intimacy is not a priority; it is a means to control you.

Narcissists love to be touched, but only on their terms and conditions. They want you to lavish them with love and attention. The less the touch has to do with affection or establishing a connection, the better.

It is important to remember that narcissists are keen on winning you over. After all, you are their favorite plaything.

Cuddling is a way to express genuine affection and intimate feelings. Unfortunately, narcissists will use it to get what they want from you. As I said, the truth hurts, but it can set you free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a narcissist learn how to cuddle?

Yes – although it may take some time for them to feel comfortable enough to make physical contact due to their fear of being vulnerable or losing control of the situation. It helps if you approach them gently and let them know that cuddling isn’t something they necessarily have to” do, but something they can explore together at their own pace until they feel comfortable enough for more intimate forms of affection.

Can a relationship with a narcissist be successful?

While having a successful relationship with a narcissist is possible, it can be challenging and requires a lot of work from both partners. Narcissists often find it difficult to empathize with their partner’s needs and feelings, which can lead to feelings of neglect or resentment. 

In addition, narcissists often find it difficult to admit that they’re in the wrong or take responsibility for their actions, making it difficult to resolve conflicts. 

However, if both partners are committed to making the relationship work and are willing to make an effort to communicate with each other and work through their differences, it is possible to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship with a narcissist.

What can I do if my partner is a narcissist but I still want physical affection?

It is important that you set boundaries with your partner and express your desires clearly and respectfully. You should also make sure that you set healthy boundaries with yourself by prioritizing qualities like self-love, self-worth, and understanding your limits—all of which will help you stay in control of the situation and protect yourself from potential harm.

Also, try not to get too caught up in conflict: instead, focus on communicating your needs without making demands or ultimatums (which may only fuel narcissistic behavior).

Should I continue trying if my partner constantly rejects me when I try to cuddle?

It ultimately depends on how comfortable you are- if your partner has repeatedly made it clear that they don’t agree with physical contact, then it’s best to respect that boundary, even if it hurts. Instead, try to show your affection in other ways, such as verbal compliments or shared activities that are fun for both of you!

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