Adulterous, Unfaithful Narcissists: Why Cheat and have Extramarital Affairs?

Uploaded 7/27/2010, approx. 4 minute read

Hello, I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Why are narcissists unfaithful to their spouses? Why do they cheat? Why do they commit adultery and have extramarital affairs in such copious quantities?

Well, the short and the long of it is, it's complicated.

There are seven reasons which reflect different dynamics within the psyche of the narcissist.

The first reason is, of course, the quest for narcissistic supply.

Narcissists are drug addicts, and the name of the drug is narcissistic supply. Attention, regulation, admiration. Narcissists require this input from their human environment in order to regulate their unstable sense of self-worth, in order to restore a modicum of self-esteem, and in order to build self-confidence.

But unfortunately, narcissistic supply is a temporary remedy, not a permanent one. The narcissist needs time and again to elicit narcissistic supply from people around him.

And one of the ways to do that is sexual conquest. Extramarital affairs provide the somatic narcissist with an endless supply of narcissistic supply.

Secondly, narcissists are easily bored. They have a low threshold of boredom. They have a low tolerance for boredom. Sexual dalliances alleviate this nagging and frustrating in we. They inject color and interest into the narcissist's otherwise monotonous life.

Thirdly, narcissists maintain an island and focus of stability in their life, surrounded by an ocean of chaos and instability.

So we can have a narcissist who is stable in the workplace. He has a career path. He has worked in the same firm for decades.

But in his private life he maintains extramarital affairs and he is a pathologic gambler.

So there is always an island of stability surrounded by an ocean of unpredictability, instability, chaos and perturbation.

Extramarital affairs, adultery, cheating on one's spouse, is the narcissist's way of destabilizing his life while maintaining stability in a certain domain or portion.

Narcissists feel superior and important. So they feel entitled to anything and everything. They feel that they are above the law, above social conventions, that they are not required to engage in behaviors that are socially acceptable. They reject emotionally and vehemently and resent all limitations and conditions placed upon them. They act on impulses.

Narcissists are impulsive. They act on their drives, urges and desires and they feel unencumbered by social edicts and conventions. They feel above it all.

Marriage, monogamy, shy and bearing are common activities. They characterize what the narcissist regards as the average person.

There is nothing the narcissist hates more than being average. He holds average, common, typical people in contempt and disdain. He doesn't want to be like them.

The narcissist feels that he is unique, that he is superior, that he is special, that he is not average, that his behavior is not common.

So being married to the same woman and raising a family with her reduces the narcissist to the lowest common denominator.

He therefore regards himself as having been coerced into the relationship and he regards his roles as husband, provider, father, as kind of non-narcissistic pursuits, as narcissistic injuries. He feels wounded by the need to fulfill these roles.

And this narcissistic injury, this wound leads him to rebel and to reassert his superiority and his specialness by maintaining extramarital affairs.

By having liaisons with other women outside the marriage circle, the narcissist says, look at me, I am not common. I am not average. Narcissists are also control freaks.

Having a relationship means give and take. A relationship is a train of compromises.

But narcissists interpret compromises as loss of control. They feel that marriage to a single woman in a monogamous relationship means having been chained and shackled, having lost control of one's life.

And so to reassert control, the narcissist initiate other relationships in which he is the one to dictate the terms of engagement.

In other words, love affairs.

Finally, narcissists are terrified of intimacy. Their behavior is best characterized as what is called approach avoidance repetition conflicts. Partners and spouses of narcissists are well aware and well acquainted with this dynamic, halt and call to and fro, closer and further, attached and detached.

Adultery is an excellent tool in the attempt to retard intimacy, to fend it off, to suppress it. And it is also a less threatening mode of interaction because it's not permanent, it's not subject to rules, it's not subject to expectations.

Love affairs by definition are less intimate in the narcissist's eyes and mind at least than marriage.

And so they feed the narcissist perfectly. They provide him with narcissistic supply without making demands of him.

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Study: Narcissists Cheat MORE? Only Partly True! (And Why They Cheat)

A study on narcissism and infidelity found that grandiose narcissistic women are more likely to have favorable attitudes towards infidelity, while their male partners are less likely to cheat. Vulnerable narcissists, both male and female, are more likely to have favorable attitudes towards infidelity. Additionally, the number of premarital partners is linked to higher rates of divorce and infidelity, with those having nine or more partners being at a higher risk. Narcissists cheat for reasons such as seeking narcissistic supply, avoiding intimacy and commitment, and asserting control. They may also use infidelity as a way to rejuvenate their primary relationship.

Why Cerebral Narcissist Chooses YOU

Cerebral narcissists choose sexually incompatible partners for six reasons: 1) to maintain a morally superior victim stance, 2) to test their partner's unconditional love and allegiance, 3) to control their partner through guilt and shame, 4) to legitimize their defiance and contempt for their partner, 5) to forgive their partner and feel like a benevolent figure, and 6) to give their partner freedom while maintaining their own schizoid lifestyle. Cerebral narcissists are repelled by physicality and only engage in sex when hunting for a new partner to embed in a shared fantasy.

Sexual Arousal? Only When Cheating on the Spouse

Some people only enjoy sex when they cheat on their spouses. These individuals were conditioned in their formative years to associate intimacy with risk, deception, and adrenaline. They require a narrative or script to become sexually aroused and often assume the role of a promiscuous and treacherous prostitute. Ironically, they are inordinately attached to their emotionally thwarted, co-dependent, and enabling spouses and need them to remain married to fully enjoy sex.

Why You Mourn Breakup with Narcissist? (Dual Mothership)

The dual mothership concept is a principle developed by Sam Vaknin to explain the prolonged grief involved in narcissistically abusive relationships. It involves the Narcissist becoming the partner's idealizing mother, offering unconditional love, and the partner becoming the Narcissist's idealizing mother, offering unconditional love. This process is known as co-idealization, and both parties experience self-love through an idealized image of themselves. When the relationship ends, there is triple mourning involving three losses: the partner's idealized self, the Narcissist as their mother, and the partner as the Narcissist's child.

Narcissist: Intimacy or Sex - Never Both (ENGLISH responses)

Narcissists may initiate sex with their partner if they fear losing them, which is known as reclaimed sex. However, intimacy reduces the sex drive of a narcissist, and they may struggle to dehumanize and objectify their partner if they have a history together. Narcissists often have a problem with sexual communication and may demand their partner to act like a prostitute. Dishonest communication is at the core of many sexual and relationship traumas experienced by both the narcissist and their partner. Narcissists may end relationships dramatically due to their partner's expectations and hopes being based on misleading statements or behaviors.

Why Narcissist Devalues YOU (Hint: Wants YOU "Dead")

Narcissists devalue their partners as a form of self-defense and control. There are two types of devaluation: preemptive and reactive. Preemptive devaluation occurs when a narcissist is in a transitional state between overt and covert narcissism, and they devalue potential sources of supply to prevent the overt side from using them against the covert side. Reactive devaluation is a response to a perceived threat to the narcissist's grandiosity or control. Both types of devaluation are harmful to the victim and serve to maintain the narcissist's sense of power and control.

Narcissist's Partner Reacts to Narcissist's Sexuality (ENGLISH responses)

Partners of narcissists often deny the signs of their sexual behavior, which can be pretty open, including consuming pornography, having lovers, and trying to convince their partner to participate in threesomes and group sex. The rejection of the narcissist's sexual practices by the partner is often a weapon used against the narcissist in arguments, rather than a genuine issue. The rejection of the narcissist's needs by the partner is a great pity and a great obstacle to the relationship, and partners should sit back and consider what they are willing to do and what they are not willing to do.

Threesomes: Why Narcissist Encourages Partner’s Infidelity

Narcissists may encourage their partners to be unfaithful, but this is not due to masochism or sadism. Instead, it serves as a betrayal fantasy, loyalty test, dare, validation of the narcissist's negative view of the other sex, and a way for the narcissist to reassert control. The victim's behavior is not coerced, but rather a reaction to the toxic environment created by the narcissist. This leads to atypical behaviors and a sense of alienation for the victim.

How Narcissist Snapshots YOU to Bad Object

The narcissist hates and needs you, and he internalizes and converts you into a bad object. This process is called snapshotting, and it involves creating an internal object that represents you and interacting with it. The narcissist's state of mind is that of a two-year-old, and he experiences his overpowering need for you as love, but it's actually hate. The narcissist's reactions to manufactured bad objects include anger, depression, and schizoid withdrawal states. The narcissist's psychosexuality is influenced by the schizoid state, leading to sexlessness and abusive transactional relationships. The narcissist's behavior in all relationships, including business and friendships, follows a similar pattern of grooming, devaluation, discard, and replacement.

Cope with Somatic Narcissist's Infidelity

Narcissists who are somatic tend to have extramarital affairs as it sustains their grandiose fantasies and unrealistic self-image. It is difficult to alter this behavior, so setting up strict rules of engagement is necessary. If you insist on staying with a somatic narcissist, you must be prepared to serve as a source of narcissistic supply, which is an onerous task. If you find it difficult to confront the fact that your relationship is over, seek help from professionals and friends.

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