Not every emotionally unavailable person is a narcissist, but every narcissist is emotionally unavailable.
The lines are often blurred, and sometimes people can be quick to label a person as a narcissist when in fact, they’re just unavailable.
Which is why I’ve created this post to help make things clearer.
Author’s Note: This post applies to both genders, but as I am a female with experience of both narcissistic and emotionally unavailable men, I will sometimes refer to the people as men.
Lack Of Empathy.
Both emotionally unavailable men and narcissists lack empathetic traits, however, emotionally unavailable individuals are still capable of connecting with other people on some level. They will still be able to consider your point of view even if they don’t agree with it. They may still be able to feel remorse or guilt for hurting someone (although it does not necessarily stop them from hurting someone, depending on how selfish they are). They do, however, have the ability to work on their relationship patterns and healing.
Narcissists, on the other hand, lack the core empathy that will stop them creating any form of loving connection long-term.
After the honeymoon period and ‘love bombing’ is over, a narcissist will show an indifference in response to your emotional needs and desires that can be described as cruel. They are unable to consider anybody else’s feelings and do not care who they hurt in the process of getting what they want.
Why They Are The Way They Are.
Some emotionally unavailable men may have become emotionally unavailable after a past relationship or a recent break-up. This problem can usually be addressed after time or with professional support. Other men may just not be the commitment type and nothing you can do can change that.
Narcissists, on the other hand, suffer what is known as a ‘narcissistic wound’. This can stem in childhood due to neglect, maltreatment or being taught an excessive sense of entitlement from their caregiver.
As a result, a narcissist’s behavior is hardwired and very difficult to change in adulthood because they never outgrew their inflated sense of self.
Many narcissists do not seek out help because they refuse to believe they even have a problem in the first place.
Emotionally unavailable men can create love triangles in the sense that they may date multiple people at once to keep themselves safe from commitment.
An emotionally unavailable person may have a hard time committing to one person or anything besides a casual arrangement because they’re scared of being hurt or because they’re not at a stage of their lives where they want to be with just one person. Any deception from them is still wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated, but they don’t do this for the same reasons as a narcissist – who deliberately create love triangles.
Narcissists create love triangles because it gives them a sense of power and control. The people within these triangles usually include their partner, exes and people that are “just friends” – these are people (aka objects) that can provide the narcissist with praise, admiration, and ego strokes. Making these various people jealous of each other makes the narcissist feel excited, desirable and provides them with the exact kind of ego boost they need to survive.
Their Level Of Malice.
Emotionally unavailable men aren’t usually trying to hurt others, even though that’s what they can end up doing. The problem is, many of them genuinely believe that by not stating their intentions, and obscuring the truth to get what they want, they are doing their ‘fair share’ of being honest and not leading people on (though those on the receiving end may not feel so).
Regardless, when you express to an emotionally unavailable person how much they hurt you, they will usually leave you alone, move onto someone else or distance themselves from you out of guilt. They may try to come back into your life occasionally, but it’s usually out of selfishness rather than outright malice.
Narcissists, on the other hand, gain pleasure from hurting others. Research has shown that those who are high on the scale (such as narcissists or psychopaths) actually take pleasure in seeing sad faces – it feeds into their heightened sense of power and superiority. They use pretend empathy to assess the weaknesses and strengths of people, but their empathy does not extend to real empathy, which would allow them to consider or care about the harm they inflict.
They enjoy pulling the strings of their loved ones and making them feel ‘crazy’. It’s almost a fun sport for them to criticize, belittle, blame and hurt someone. A relationship is never ‘over’ for them because they need you to worship them, and staying with them feels that way to them. They will always come back into your life once they are bored with the new person – not before damaging the new person first of course.
The Idealisation, Devaluation, And Discard Cycle.
Emotionally unavailable men idealize you because they want to fast-forward to the part where they get what they want (usually sex)
Sometimes these men are not even aware of their own emotional unavailability e.g. an emotionally unavailable person who is still in the middle of heartbreak may be so enthusiastic about finding someone else after a break-up that they overestimate their interest for you. When they pull away, it’s not so much that they’re being manipulative, it’s more likely they’ve realized they cannot be emotionally intimate with you, and maybe they aren’t ready for a new relationship after all.
Narcissists, on the other hand, idealize and love-bomb their victims as a form of grooming to manipulate and control you down the line. They will provide you with flattery and excessive compliments in the hope that you will feel flattered cared about and be able to trust them. It is not uncommon for narcissists to use phrases such as ‘I’ve never felt this way before’ ‘You’re different from the rest’ ‘You complete me’ etc early on into seeing them.
Once you’re hooked and develop feelings, the narcissist will take pride in devaluing and mistreating you by putting you down, making you feel crazy and using verbal, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse. They will eventually discard you – but not before they have made you feel worthless and that you will never find another man. (which you definitely can!)
The Bottom Line.
At the end of the day, whether someone you know is a narcissist or emotionally unavailable, if you do not feel you are being treated right, you probably aren’t and you should probably leave.
Remember, narcissists can can’t and emotionally unavailable can – but unless this person is willing to work on his behaviors, they won’t satisfy you in the long-term either. It’s time to cut off contact with anyone who isn’t giving you the happy, consistent and healthy relationship you deserve.