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What Does a Narcissist Feel?

Yes a Narcissist has Feelings; Just Not For You!

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to how a narcissist feels.  Many say, ‘narcissists don’t have feelings’, but this isn’t true.  What IS true is that they feel completely differently than people without this disorder, and until you really understand that, you are at risk!

What does a narcissist feel;

  1. They feel happy when things are going their way.  Their charming, fun, interesting selves come out, and they can be quite engaging and fun to be around.  This is when people get drawn into their webs and when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, this is what you’re always trying to get back to.  You want them to be happy so life is peaceful, but the only way for them to be happy is to have everything going their way, and everyone to be placating and enabling them, and for all attention to be on them.  This is unsustainable so then you get the other feelings narcissists have; 
  2. They feel sad and upset when things are not going their way.  They upset can range from mild to serial-killer, and you never know what you’ll get.  You could get a sullen pout, or tears and suicidal threats, or rage and violence, and if you give in to them, they could swing back to happy.  Over time, this behavior often trains people to placate and enable the narcissist’s behavior since it is just easier that to battle with them all the time.  
  3. They feel victimized and betrayed when others don’t meet their needs, or placate and enable their beliefs.  The narcissist believes the world does and should revolve around them.  If anyone challenges this or strays from that world-view, they feel a sense of victim-hood or betrayal.  They can slide into full-blown self-pity and act this out with an implosion or explosion, or sometimes vacillate between the two. 
  4. They feel angry when someone doesn’t let them be in control.  Control is very important to a narcissist.  This is how they keep their fragile insecurities at bay and ensure their supply of adoration stays solid.  When they lose their sense of control over others, they will often lash out in vengeful ways, through subtle, mean, cyber-bullying, and flying monkeys attacks, or more direct aggression and threats. 
  5. They feel insanely hurt and jealous when they feel their supply might be interested in someone else or that someone else is interested in them.  Their jealous reactions are typically off the charts and this is one of the most obvious indications you’re dealing with a narcissist.  When someone is highly reactive to any possibility of threat or challenge to their relationship with you, and the sense is one of entitlement, ownership, and possession more than relationship, this is more than likely a narcissist.  Again, they don’t believe you have a right to any wants or needs outside of them so you going to the gym where you might see someone else of interest, or you spending time with friends, or going anywhere with anyone else is simply intolerable and they will punish you in subtle or aggressive ways to make you not want to do that again. 
  6. They feel scared when they lose the focus and adoration of everyone and will often not like to be alone.  They don’t want to have to support themselves emotionally. 
  7. A narcissist will often feel angry, or victimized when they are busted for lying or cheating, stealing, being mean, etc.  Don’t confuse this with regret or remorse.  They are just upset they were busted and you interrupted their bad behavior.  Regret and remorse involve change and the narcissist has no need or desire to change.  They will express whatever they think you want to hear for as long as it takes to get you off their backs, then they will continue as before. 
  8. Narcissists feel envy, and they also feel a high when they believe someone is envious of them.  This leads to a lot of competitiveness when others may not even be aware they are in competition.  They may get really angry when you do something that sparks this envy; if you beat them at anything, look out, their envy will spark and they will be angry way out of reason, and then if they beat you at something, they will gloat and make sure everyone knows.

They DON’T feel;

  1. Love; love is when you want the best for someone, you respect and believe in them, you want to be with them, and want to do for them to make their lives better.  You want to share their life and you want to share their joys and pains; to celebrate their joys and divide their pain. 
  2. Empathy; narcissists don’t recognize or care about the emotions of others.  They are not moved by anyone’s pain or joy except to be envious of their joy and to be annoyed by the focus someone gets because of their pain.  They don’t feel anything for others and can always bring the attention and focus back to themselves.  They are the ones who make everything about themselves even when it’s not about them at all.  When you see someone do this, this is a huge red flag; steer clear!  
  3. Regret or remorse; in order to feel either of these they have to feel sorry for how they impacted you.  But we already talked about how they can’t empathize, so they also can’t feel sorry for, and thus they do not feel regret or remorse.   When they act regretful or remorseful, they are really just upset they are being confronted with the reality of their behavior and they want to say they’re sorry to make you let it go.  Remember, real regret and remorse leads to humility, a real shift in attitude and real behavior changes.   If you don’t see all three, it’s not real regret/remorse.

These are the things narcissists can and can’t feel and why they create such wreckage in relationships.

Originally Published on

Shannon Petrovich LCSW, LISAC, BCD Therapist, Author, YouTube Creator

Shannon earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She earned her clinical licenses in Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling, and is a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work.

Her new book, Out of the FOG Into the CLEAR, Journaling to Help You Heal from Toxic Relationships has attained Amazon Bestseller status in Self Help for Abuse, Codependency, and Personal Transformation.

On her YouTube channel Therapist Talks, she shares insights, information, perspectives, and strategies on a wide range of relationship and mental health topics.

With a very trauma-informed, strengths-based approach, she seeks to help people see the old stories that are in their way, and to fully become the person they were created to be.

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