20 Answers To The Question: What Do Narcissists Want?

Narcissists want more than a big mirror and a charged phone for selfies.

man in jacket and glasses standing near bridge Aleksandr Lupin / Shutterstock

Narcissists are charming and attentive at first, but eventually, they turn cold and demanding. If you are, or were, romantically involved with a narcissist, the change probably made your head spin.

The term “narcissist” gets thrown around a lot these days. Technically, a narcissist is someone who could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). According to the American Psychiatric Association, they have a grandiose sense of self-importance, believe they are special and unique, need excessive admiration and have a sense of entitlement. They do not have empathy.


Here are 20 variations of the question, 'What does a narcissist want?' — with the answers

1 . What do narcissists want?

Narcissists want what is called a "narcissistic supply." In her Lovefraud webinar, counselor Tiffany Kettermann explains that narcissistic supply is, "Anything or anyone that feeds the narcissistic person's ego and keeps the person artificially pumped up, protecting their fragile view of themselves." This could include fame, admiration, compliments, good looks, a prestigious career, or the image of a perfect family.


2. What do narcissists want to hear?

Anything that feeds their ego (see above) or makes them look good, like compliments, flattery and praise. If you have a problem with their behavior for any reason, they are definitely not interested in hearing about that.

3. What do narcissists want sexually?

Physical stimulation and praise for their performance, whether or not they deserve it. If they seem to want to please you, it's only so you can praise them. They are not truly concerned about your feelings or enjoyment. Depending on their level of antisocial and psychopathic traits — there is a lot of overlap in these personality disorders — narcissists may also want to sexually control you. 

RELATED: How To Deal With A Narcissist — 8 Smart & Simple Steps

4. What do narcissists want in a partner?

They want a partner who makes them look good — preferably someone beautiful and successful. They want someone who has assets that they can exploit. They may also be someone who is compliant, who does what they want and feeds their ego.


5. What do narcissists want in a relationship?

A partner who is useful in some way. They may be looking for sex, services, money, connections, a place to live, entertainment or someone to complete the image they want to portray. They are not looking for companionship or someone to grow old with (except for when they want you to take care of them when they are old).

6. What don't narcissists want you to know?

That they are users. That they cannot love. That all their promises are lies designed to hook you, and that once you are no longer useful to them, the promises will be broken and you will be discarded.

RELATED: 6 Signs Of A Narcissist That Are Super Easy To Miss

7. Why do narcissists want to be friends with their ex?

Because they are users. If they were able to use the ex in the past, they assume they’ll be able to use him or her in the future. So they stay in touch. If you throw them out, it’s easier to hook up with an old flame than it is to find a new one.


8. Why do narcissists want to control you?

When they control you, they can exploit you. Also, many narcissists consider you to be their property, and they believe they have the right to do what they want with their property. That’s why they get so angry when you leave — they feel like they are losing control of their property.

9. Why do narcissists want to hurt you?

It’s another example of their outrageous sense of entitlement. When you catch on to their lies and stand up to them, this causes a classic narcissistic injury — an affront to their ego. They react with narcissistic rage, which means that according to them, you deserve to be punished.

RELATED: Why Narcissists Get Way More Action Than Everyone Else

10. Why do narcissists want you back?

Probably because whomever they left you for has thrown them out. Or because they want their property back. No matter how much they tell you that they’re sorry, they screwed up, they’ve been to church or to therapy, don’t think they’ve actually had a change of heart. If you let them back into your life, they will soon be treating you worse than ever.


11. Do narcissists want what they can't have?

They want what they want. They can’t conceive of the idea that they can’t have what they want.

12. Do narcissists want what you have?

Yes. That’s usually why they target you in the first place — because you have something that they want.

RELATED: 16 Little Signs Someone Is Experiencing 'Narcissistic Collapse' & How To Protect Yourself

13. Do narcissists want to be loved?

Narcissists do not have the ability to love as normal people do. They can be attracted to someone. They want sex. But they cannot truly care about someone else’s well-being, which is a critical component of real love. So although they may say that they want to love, what they really want is narcissistic supply (see above).


14. Do narcissists want to be alone?

No, because they’re exploiters, and if they are alone, there is no one to exploit. They may say that they want to be alone when the truth is that they want to continue using you without putting any effort into the relationship.

15. Do narcissists want a divorce?

It depends. If you are no longer useful, or they’ve found a juicier target, then yes, they may want a divorce. But if they’re not finished with you, or if they want to continue controlling you, then they will not want a divorce.

RELATED: The 5 Manipulation Tactics Narcissists Use To Get Inside Your Head

16. Do narcissists want sympathy?

Sympathy is a form of narcissistic supply, so yes, narcissists want sympathy. But by telling you a sad story, they may be engaging in pity play, which is a calculated attempt to gain your sympathy. They know that if you feel sorry for them, it will be easier for them to convince you to give them what they want.


17. Do narcissists want revenge?

If their plans are thwarted and they have suffered a narcissistic injury, then yes, they may want revenge. From a narcissist’s point of view, anyone with the audacity to deny what they want deserves to be punished.

18. Do narcissists want friends?

They want people they can exploit. Friends can be exploited, therefore, friends are useful. But they are not looking for companionship or camaraderie. 

RELATED: What Family Means To A Narcissist


19. Do narcissists want to be liked?

They may want to be liked, but only because they know that if their targets like them, they can get what they want. Mostly, narcissists want to be admired or feared

20. Do narcissists want to change?

No. They are quite content with themselves; in fact, they consider themselves to be superior to the rest of us — that’s the essence of narcissism. So if you’ve escaped a narcissist, and suddenly this person promises to change, don’t believe it. It’s a ploy to reel you in again, and once you are hooked, the narcissist will revert to all the nasty old behaviors.

The best advice if you're with a narcissist — leave

If you believe that you’re romantically involved with a narcissist, it’s important to understand what this means. When someone has a personality disorder, their beliefs and behaviors are thoroughly ingrained into who they are. It’s not that they were once kind and loving, and then something happened to make them entitled and mean. They were always entitled and mean.

No drugs or therapy have been proven to give narcissists empathy or enable them to love fully. Therefore, they are not and never will be satisfying relationship material. Don’t wait for a diagnosis. If you’re unhappy, and you suspect your partner may be disordered, the best thing you can do is leave.


RELATED: 10 Ways To Make A Narcissist Panic & Fear You

Donna Andersen is the author of Lovefraud.com and the book, “Red Flags of Love Fraud — 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath.” If you need advice on escape and recovery from a sociopath or narcissist, Donna offers personal consultations.