An intimate relationship in the shadow of narcissism: What is it like to live with a narcissistic spouse?

2012 IJRSP – Volume 1 Issue 1


Määttä, Marju
Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences, Finland (

Uusiautti, Satu
University of Lapland, Finland (

Määttä, Kaarina*
University of Lapland, Finland (


Narcissistic personality disorder was recognized as a mental disturbance in the U.S. in 1980. Typical characteristics of narcissism are, among others, the illusions of one’s own omnipotence, an excessive need for admiration, as well as ruthless manipulation of the others. The purpose of this study is to describe the life in the shadow of narcissism, as a narcissist’s spouse. The research problems are 1) how a narcissistic person is defined by his/her spouse and 2) what kind of model of the narcissistic behavior in an intimate relationship can be constructed? The qualitative data in this research was collected from a platform at the website of the Registered Association for Support for the Victims of Narcissists in Finland. The data consisted of 100 chains of messages (326 pages, 254 pseudonyms). The research data was analyzed with inductive content analysis. According to the victims’ stories and experiences, narcissistic persons appear as unstable and immoral exercisers of power and manipulators who lack the sense of reality. Based on the results, the origin of these problems is in low self-esteem. The research results show how narcissism affects intimate relationships in many destructive ways.

Keywords: narcissistic personality disorder; narcissism; victim; intimate relationship; self-esteem



*Corresponding Author