After you’ve had an experience with someone who is narcissistic or otherwise emotionally abusive, you’re naturally left with tons of unanswered questions. Personally, I had done a ton of research on whether narcissists can love anyone, but I was particularly curious about dogs and cats.

It may seem like a funny thing to wonder about, but after I hit the web for answers, I realized I’m not the one one with this question.

As it turns out, there are lots of emotionally abusive people who seem to love their pets. But is it really love?

The answer to this question is complicated. But then again, so is narcissism. Ultimately, the answer is no but there’s a caveat. If the person is a true narcissist with diagnosed NPD, it’s highly unlikely that what they’re feeling is really love.

About narcissistic pet owners

Disclaimer: First, I want to say that there aren’t any scientific studies on the subject (or none that I’ve found). So my answer is based on what I’ve read from other people’s experiences, what I’ve experienced personally and what I know about narcissism in general.

This isn’t meant to be a lesson in narcissism, but there are a few things you should know before we can get to the real issue.

Narcissism is a spectrum – and we’re all on it. Everyone is narcissistic because everyone that’s inhabiting a human form on this earth has an ego.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is often a tricky diagnosis, especially if someone is low on the scale. In order to get the NPD diagnosis, the person must exhibit five of nine possible traits. One of those traits is impaired empathy. This is the one that really puts a wedge between someone with NPD from the rest of us.

Someone who is high on the narcissistic scale needs to be the center of attention like the rest of us need water. So a pet, especially a dog, is a perfect match.

Do narcissists love animals?

As you may have already learned, it’s unwise to make sweeping statements about any group of people, especially narcissists. And as I’ve covered, it’s highly unlikely that the narcissist actually loves their animal. From an outside perspective, there are narcissists who seem to love their pets and those who seem to hate animals. First, let’s look at a few scenarios where you might see what you think is love.

Extension of self

There is one theory that a narcissist could love a pet if he or she sees the pet as an extension of self. This seems to make sense, but it’s definitely up for debate. Because, does a narcissist truly love themselves?

Feelings of adoration

When a narcissist owns a dog, the dog will show unconditional love. A dog is always happy to see his owner and doesn’t hold any grudges. There’s really nothing the owner can do to sway that adoration, so it’s a great fit for a lot of narcissists.

Control

It’s no secret that narcissists love being in control, and with a pet, that control is easy. In some cases, it may come as loving redirection or it may come in the form of harsh punishment. Either way, from what I’ve seen, a pet won’t replace human attention for a narcissist, but it helps them achieve a constant flow regardless of what else is happening in their lives.

Can a narcissist hate pets?

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that these people are humans. They’re all as different as the rest of us — even though they share so many common traits. And there are many narcissists who really don’t care for pets.

A narcissist isn’t usually one to take care of others, and there’s no way around this with a pet. So if someone is particularly high on the narcissistic spectrum, they may really want to avoid pets, regardless of the adoration they might get.

But it’s important to remember that lots of non-disordered people aren’t fans of pets either. Maybe someone had a bad experience or is otherwise fearful. The same can be true for any narcissist.

Triangulation with pets

For some of you, this is going to seem out there. Others will be nodding their heads and screaming, “yes!” as they read these words.

This isn’t something I’ve experienced personally, but I’ve heard enough about it to include a note about it here.

Triangulation is an emotionally abusive tactic where the abuser puts someone else above you in the relationship. And some narcissists do this with their pets.

A note about pet-driven narcissism

As I was digging into this topic, I came across an interesting perspective that seems to ring true. Pets often elicit narcissistic behavior in their owners, regardless of whether their owners have NPD.

You may notice that someone who otherwise seems emotionally stable may ramble on about their pet long after you’ve given clear indication that you’re not interested. Somehow, the same person picks up those cues around any other topic, but not when they’re talking about their pets.

I suspect this is because of our society’s view on pets in general. Although it’s shifting, many people still don’t understand the intense bond that a pet parent can have with their dog or cat. And so, we learn to suppress those conversations until the appropriate time. And when that time comes, watch out.

There’s definitely an interesting connection between pets and narcissism and I’m looking forward to learning more as new information emerges.

Here’s why none of this matters

It’s time to get real. I know why you’re curious about this. I know… because it’s exactly why I was curious.

You want to know whether the person in your life is truly a narcissist. If they love animals, they can love you, right?

Listen. Most of us aren’t qualified to diagnose another person. And what looks like love may actually be something else entirely. Or it may be love-like because the person views the pet as an extension of self. But if you’re here, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this person was emotionally abusive to you. And really, that’s all you need to know. Because that’s not love.

Whether or not the person is capable of loving another is irrelevant.

Christina

Leave a Reply to Henning Cancel Reply

  1. Henning November 3, 2020 Reply

    I came here from the spiritual chills article.. I too was abused and I'm sorry that you had to go through that. But isn't it amazing what our eyes had to open up to now after working on this topic? Its like seeing the universe for the first time but now not in fear but in perfection. I love my 2 cats like I'm the only one capable of love on this planet. Not in a possessive way but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about :) This is the first time in my life that I truly love the path I'm on. I hope that its the same for you :*

  2. James Peery December 14, 2020 Reply

    They will never physically abuse their dogs. But if you react or respond in some way to protect yourself or your bonderies, hell, to protect your life, they will immediately protect the dog from you. And they trust you 100 percent with their dog, and you may provide most of the care for it. It’s not a good reality.

  3. I love animals January 26, 2021 Reply

    As a narcissist myself, a covert narcissist. Self diagnosed. Well my ex diagnosed me haha he thought I was sociopathic for the longest time, in fact I’ve had lots of people think I am a Sociopath however he did research and came up with narcissist and Everything I hear on covert narcissism rings SO true with me it’s like they are talking specifically about me that there is no way I am not one (I wish I wasn’t). I’ve always known there was something not right but never had a name for it. I believe there are several narcissist family members in my family and extended family too. I did have childhood trauma which I believe triggered it in myself. I don’t care about people and I have very little empathy for them however I love all my pets, and all animals in general, you know how many times I have been late to work rescuing an animal from the road for example one time baby ducks that were wandering on the road, some had already been squashed but I rescued the remaining ones. The only time I really feel empathy is when it comes to animals. Seeing an animal being hurt or neglected etc makes me want to cry. I even go as far to save flies if they are dying in my house, I’ll give them food and water which I think is weird even if I do say so myself lol meanwhile humans suffering makes me somewhat happy and content haha I love my own pets very much, and I take good care of them. They are all happy and healthy and I would do anything for them and would never ever consider rehoming them like so many people are willing to do, (people hate narcissists, I think people who rehome their pets are worse!! Who gives away a family member!!!!!) I’ve already made sure my mom is willing to take my pets if I was to die. I see animals as innocent creatures and therefore worthy of life and my love however I don’t think people deserve life at all so it’s hard to have empathy for something you don’t think deserves to be here anyway. I’m not good at writing or expressing myself but I disagree that narcissists can’t love pets although many probably don’t.

  4. B May 28, 2021 Reply

    Narcassits use their pets for daily supply of control and will use the pet as a tool for control and abuse to other people in the house! I know! The question I have is how dangerous can they be, would they intentionally harm their pet for attention??