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Caught in Narcissist's Pendulum: Romantic Jealousy and Sex

Uploaded 2/7/2022, approx. 17 minute read

In an interview I gave to Richard Grannon a few months ago, I told him that there is no way to heal from narcissistic abuse until and unless the victim separates and individuates.

In other words, separates from the narcissist and becomes an individual, because the narcissist plays the role of a mother and regresses the victim to early infancy.

So the victim needs to grow up, so to speak, to return from infancy to adulthood by separating from the mother figure and becoming again an individual.

But there is a flip side to this coin and the flip side is the narcissist himself has not been allowed to separate and individuate as a child.

The mother and father of the narcissist, the parental figures, the caregivers, they did not let him become an individual.

The narcissist is not there, there's nobody there, it's an emptiness, a void. The narcissist has no self, he has no ego and because he has none of these things, the narcissist is incapable of bonding and attachment and incapable of positive emotionality, not capable of love.

In other words, the narcissist is a simulacrum, a simulation of a human being, but by any extension of the word, he is not one.


My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm a professor of psychology and a professor of finance in the outreach programme of the SIAS consortium of universities, CIAPS, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies and I'm also a professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don in the Russian Federation. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, I'm meter 73, I have brown eyes and don't you ask about my socks? There are more holes than socks.

All right, now you know everything about me and we can finally proceed to less serious subjects like the narcissist and you.

Today I'm going to hand over the keys to the kingdom, the code books, the enigma machine, the way to understand the narcissist's totally contradictory and bizarre behaviors.

Sometimes the narcissist is romantically jealous and possessive even to the point of paranoia. At other times with a very same intimate partner, he couldn't care less, he is totally disinterested in what his partner is doing with whom and where.

How can we reconcile these two? How can these two opposites exist in the same person? Isn't this mutually exclusive?

It's like the narcissist has two personalities or more.

Similarly with sex. Sometimes the narcissist is a sex fiend, a sex maniac, a satire, a male or female nymphomania. Sometimes sex is his life, his essence, he pursues sex to the exclusion of all else and sometimes he is utterly asexual, not interested in sex, even when it is offered to him on a silver platter, rejects sexual advances offhandedly, sometimes brutally and cruelly.

Again, how could this be the same human being, the same person? Don't we have this concept of personality which ostensibly or allegedly is a lifelong pattern of behaviors and traits which are cohesive and coherent and predictable?

How can anyone have so many contradictions and yet claim to have a personality?

What about the concept of individual, someone who stands apart, individual divided, stands apart?

What about that?

The narcissist seems to be in flux. He seems to, he's more like a river than let's say a lake or a pond. He is constantly in motion and as he moves along, the landscape changes all the time to the narcissist's intimate partner.

This could be exceedingly disorienting and so to relieve your confusion, and I'm doing this because I'm one of the most charitable, altruistic, nice and kind people on earth and probably in the solar system.

So to relieve your anxiety and to help you understand what the heck is going on with this guy or girl, the narcissist, I'm going today to provide you with a very simple set of keys.


Okay, let's first talk about possessiveness and romantic jealousy.

Sometimes the narcissist is very possessive and very romantically jealous. At other times, he couldn't care less even if you were to have sex in front of him with someone else.

How can you explain this?

Well, the two keys are grandiosity and transaction.

Let's start with grandiosity, forgiveness.

When the narcissist acquires his partner, I'm going to use she for a narcissist, I'm going to use the male pronounsalthough today it's 50-50. 50% of all narcissists are women and 50% are men, but still I'm going to use he for convenience sake.

So when the narcissist acquires his intimate partner, there is a phase where he is very possessive and he's very possessive because acquiring her, the process of acquisition is an integral part of another process known as co-idealization.

In other words, when the narcissist brings into the fold, when he housebreaks or domesticates or conquers or acquires woman as an intimate partner, he invests in the process of acquiring her, his grandiosity, his sense that he's unique, that he's special, that he's irresistible, that he is one and only sui generis.

So acquiring an intimate partner is not about the intimate partner, it's about idealizing himself. By idealizing the intimate partner, by idealizing the interaction, by idealizing the process of coming together, the narcissist actually is idealizing himself.

And if the woman he had chosen chooses another man over him, that is narcissistic injury. And if she does it publicly and humiliates him, that leads to narcissistic mortification.

So the first reason a narcissist would be possessive or romantically jealous is because he is terrified of being narcissistically injured or mortified.

By choosing an intimate partner, by choosing a woman if he's a man, he actually endows her with the power to challenge and undermine his grandiosity and sense of uniqueness.

Because all she has to do is have sex with another man, or choose another man as a romantic partner, or consider committed relationship with another man.

The minute there is an element of choice, the minute the woman chooses another man in any way, bodily, romantically, emotionally, the minute she had done this, she would have inflicted a narcissistic injury on the narcissist. It would disrupt the process of co-idealization because the implicit message in such a choice is, I found another man who is better than you. I found another man who is more than you. I found another man who is more intelligent than you, better looking than you, a better lover than you.

And these messages are injurious narcissistically. Anticipating the possibility of such an extreme narcissistic injury, anticipating the undermining of his grandiosity and sense of uniqueness, the narcissist becomes anxious. It's anticipatory anxiety and he interprets this overwhelming or pervasive anxiety in terms of possessiveness and romantic jealousy.

The truth is, he couldn't care less about his intimate partner and who she is with because he is not intimate with her. Narcissists are not capable of intimacy, of bonding, of attachment, of love. So why would they care? They don't.

The answer is they don't. The narcissist's romantic jealousy is not about his intimate partner and what she may be doing with others. The narcissist's romantic jealousy is about himself. It's self-protective.

The narcissist wants exclusivity with his intimate partner in order to make sure that she doesn't have the option to choose someone else, in order to defang her, in order to remove her, to deny her access to the weapon of narcissistic injury.

If both parties agree on exclusivity, then he is unique by definition. He is the one and only and his grandiosity is upheld and buttressed and supported and vindicated and verified.

However, she strays or she chooses someone else over him, she has the power. It's all a power play. She has the power to diminish him, to humiliate him, to negate him.

And so at that point, he needs to defend himself against such possibilities. And he experiences this process as being possessive or being romantically jealous because that's the only human vocabulary available to everyone in narcissist included.

The narcissist often mislabels, mislabels his negative emotions and his internal processes. And this is one such occasion of mislabelling.

Having traversed the love bombing and grooming stage of the shared fantasy, having entered the shared fantasy with his intimate partner.

The narcissist loses all interest in the intimate partner as far as exclusivity goes. He doesn't mind and he doesn't care who she's with. What is she doing? Where, when, for how long, etc. He doesn't care anymore. He had acquired her. She's his. She's a captive within the shared fantasy. She can't exit. There's no way for her to replace him with anyone. He feels safe and doesn't feel the need to care if she, you know, has some fun. If she has some fun with others.

But this is only true as long as, as long as the narcissist is sure that he's not losing the intimate part.

In other words, as long as the narcissist can take his intimate partner for granted, he will never be romantically jealous or possessive. He starts to be romantically jealous and possessive within the shared fantasy when he risks losing the three S's, sex, services, and or narcissistic and sadistic supply. These are the three S's.

So the intimate partner of a narcissist in the shared fantasy provides him with the three S's.

But if she were to choose another man, then the narcissist risk losing these three S's, his investment, so to speak. The shared fantasy is a form of investment. So he risks losing the investment.

So he develops separation insecurity, abandonment, anxiety, and he becomes possessive and romantically jealous in order to reclaim her, including using reclaimed sex. So he tries to reclaim her because he's terrified of losing whatever it is that she can give him. The three S's.

So let us summarize.

Before, when the narcissist is in the love bombing and grooming phase, the narcissist idealizes his partner. By idealizing his partner, the narcissist idealizes himself. That's co-idealization.

And at this stage of love bombing and grooming, the narcissist's grandiosity is very vulnerable and very exposed because the targeted intimate partner, the potential victim or prey or source of supply can simply walk away and choose another man over the narcissist.

If she were to do this, the narcissist would sustain a narcissistic injury and in extreme cases, narcissistic mortification, terrified of this and anticipate anticipating this possibility.

The narcissist becomes very possessive and very romantically jealous. That's in the love bombing and grooming phase within the shared fantasy.

The narcissist is never romantically jealous and never possessive, except with one exception. When he anticipates loss, when he believes that he can no longer take his intimate partner for granted, she's about to bail out. She's scanning the horizon. She's looking for alternatives.

That terrifies him. Not because he terrifies him, not because he's about to lose the intimate partner. He couldn't care less who the intimate partner is. They're all interchangeable and dispensable. Terrifies him because he tends to lose what she gives him on a regular basis, be it sex or supply or services. He doesn't want to lose these things. He had invested a lot in creating the fantastic paracosm space within which she's captive, like the spider web. He weaved the spider web. She's caught in it. He doesn't want her to go looking for other flies.

So the minute he senses that he's about to lose his intimate partner, he suddenly becomes extremely possessive and romantically jealous.

So the first case, love bombing and grooming phase, romantic jealousy and possessiveness are the results of a challenge to grandiosity, the undermining of grandiosity, narcissistic injury.

The second case, within the shared fantasy, romantic jealousy and possessiveness are triggered by the prospect of loss, by anticipated loss, but not loss of the intimate partner, loss of her services, her sex and her supply.

Similarly, there's a dichotomy when it comes to sex. Sometimes the narcissist is hypersexual, a sex maniac, sometimes a sex addict, even. And sometimes the narcissist is hypersexual to the point of asexuality, not having sex at all.

And the reason is that there are two sets of motivations as far as the narcissist is concerned.

You remember that when we discussed a few minutes ago possessiveness and romantic jealousy, I told you that one set of motivations is grandiosity, feeling unique during the love bombing phase. And the other set of motivations is utilitarian, instrumental, transactional, the wish to secure the services, the sex and the supply of the intimate partner, not to lose her to someone else.

It's exactly the same with sex. One type of sex, one type of sexual activity, one type of sexuality and psychosexuality has to do with grandiosity and uniqueness. And the other type of sex, sexual activity and so on, has to do with utilitarian, transactional and instrumental reasons.

So the narcissist, as you remember, switches between somatic and cerebral. He has one dominant type, so he is dominant cerebral or dominant somatic. The majority of his life he spends in this dominant type, but narcissists are type inconstant. They switch between types from cerebral to somatic to cerebral to somatic and so on and so forth. It's much more rare for a somatic to switch to a cerebral because you need brains and somatics are endowed in other parts of their anatomy, not up there, not upstairs, but cerebral switch pretty easily when the need arises.

As a somatic player, in short term conquests, the narcissist would display a heightened interest in sex and increased arousal.

So as a somatic, sex would be top of the list, the main concern, the main pursuit, the number one principle, vocation and avocation of the somatic narcissist.

The somatic phase, the narcissist is all into sex, but then it's about conquering, about short term conquests, not about long term relationship. Even then, the narcissist would avoid casual sex with promiscuous, non-discriminating women and he would avoid it because it renders him not unique. A woman who sleeps indiscriminately with anyone and everyone can't make the narcissist feel special. He needs to feel special. He needs to feel that he had converted the woman into having sex with him. He needs to feel that he had conquered the women and there's no need to conquer a promiscuous woman. She is an open, open city and so she no need to besiege her. She hands you the keys to the kingdom on a first attempt.

So casual sex with promiscuous, non-discriminating women is not for the narcissist, somatic or cerebral.

Narcissists prefer to conquer. In the somatic phase, they conquer women and once they had conquered them, they lose all sexual interest in them.

So the sex is intermittent and punctuated and is composed of a medley or a chain of the unceasing and ending chain of conquest.


The all short term and the focus of the somatic narcissist is on the attainment, on the chase and the hunt, not necessarily on the specific woman or the specific partner. It's the process that arouses him, not in the outcome, but not the partner involved.

So this is the somatic phase. So this is one type of sex, sexual pursuit, sexual, one type of sex that caters to the narcissist's grandiosity and sense of uniqueness.

Because when he conquers women, he feels that he's special, women who are not promiscuous, I repeat again, when he conquers women who are not promiscuous, he feels that he's unique. He feels that he's irresistible, that he's special, that he has almost superhuman powers to convert chased, decent women into horrors in bed, from Madonna to whore. This transition gratifies and arouses him, no end, but then he loses interest because the conquest accomplished. That was the idea, not the notch in the belt or in the bedpost.

So again, we see where grandiosity and a sense of uniqueness give rise to a specific behavior, to romantic jealousy, to possessiveness and to hyper sexuality.

Grandiosity and uniqueness are very important drivers of the narcissistic engine.

And so when the narcissist loved Bonzo, he wants her to be exclusive to him because it makes him feel unique, it allows him to idealize himself. And when she isn't, it destroys or challenges his grandiosity and causes narcissistic injury. So he's romantically jealous and possessive.

Similarly, when the narcissist has sex with multiple partners as a somatic, it's about the conquest, it's about feeling unique, feeling special, feeling irresistible. It's about grandiosity.

And there is a compliment also to the utilitarian transactional and instrumental side. As a cerebral narcissist in the love bombing phase which precedes the shared fantasy, the cerebral in the love bombing phase is also hypersexual. He is still cerebral, but he's hypersexual.

And this is false advertising. It's a lure, it's a bait. The idea is that the cerebral narcissist demonstrates to his partner that he's actually okay with sex, that he loves sex, that he adores sex, and he's likely to continue to engage in sex for the rest of their committed relationship. But actually it's false.

The cerebral regards this sexual involvement as a chore, something to be done, a way to capture or captivate the woman and bring her into the shared fantasy. The minute she is in the shared fantasy, his sex drive, alleged sex drive, ostensible sex drive vanishes and he becomes asexual. Again, we see that sex is used to buttress grandiosity in a sense of uniqueness in the somatic narcissist.

And as an instrument, as a tool, a utilitarian transactional instrumental type of sex intended to captivate and capture and acquire women as intimate partners in the shared fantasy as a lure and as a bait.

Similarly, romantic jealousy and possessiveness is used to buttress or to prevent a challenge or undermining the grandiosity and sense of uniqueness. So the narcissist is romantically jealous and possessive when he anticipates narcissistic injury and he enforces exclusivity on the intimate partner to avoid this injury.

And similarly, romantic jealousy and possessiveness are instrumental, utilitarian and transactional when the narcissist tries to forestall and to prevent the loss of an intimate partner who is about to bail out, but he's not interested in the intimate partner. He's interested in what he can extract from her, what he can get from her.

These are the keys. That's all you need to know actually to understand the narcissist's bizarre pendulations between extreme paranoid suffocating and stifling romantic jealousy and a total lack of interest, total indifference to where you are, who you're with and what you're doing.

And similarly, to understand how the narcissist is in a certain period of time, hypersexual, sex crazed, and then switches to total asexuality. Totally becomes totally frigid.

These are the keys.

Grandiosity and a sense of uniqueness and instrumentalizing, instrumentalizing romantic jealousy and possessiveness and instrumentalizing sex so as to obtain goals. It's this goal orientation, utilitarian and transactional.


Okay. I hope I shed some light into this dark corner of humanity. No wonder these people are called dark personalities.

Although just to remind you, dark personalities are not psychopaths and narcissists. They are subclinical psychopaths and subclinical narcissists. They're kind of almost, almost they want a piece. They still have a long way to go to reach my level.

Thank you very much for listening. Those of you who are still around and see you next time.

And a shout to Richard. We're going probably to shoot the separation individuation interview or segment or dialogue, whatever it's going to be, on the 14th of February, 14th this month in Prague. And then we're both going to participate in a documentary.

I shot already two days for this documentary. Richard's going to join me in Prague on the 15th and 16th. There's a public event on the 15th. You're free to join. It's free of charge. You can just come there. You can ask questions and receive my snide and contemptuous answers and Richard's empathic and helpful ones. So all of you are invited. It's on the 15th of February in the evening.

Now go to my Instagram and you will see the invitation and you will have to write to an email address, which is in the invitation. And then you will be listed, you will be included and you will be granted access.

One caveat, one bit of warning. The whole thing is going to be short and filmed has been included in the documentary.

So if you don't want to be seen in this event and if you don't want to be heard, then you may wish to not attend.

But if you do attend, you will be included in the documentary. You'll become famous. You will open your own YouTube channel about narcissistic abuse and you will relegate me and Richard to the trash heap of history. Sick transit. Look it up.

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