Another day, and another study vindicating my work and refuting the nonsense spewed by self-styled experts with and without academic degrees online.
I've been saying for decades that overt or grandiose narcissism is not linked to a propensity to cheat in intimate relationships. In other words, I've been saying that grandiose overt classic narcissism do not cheat, are not unfaithful, do not commit adultery more than the average in the general population.
And of course, if you go online, every self-styled expert and his dog and his mother-in-law will tell you that this is not true.
Narcissists are prone to cheating.
Unfortunately, there's a new study that rubbishes and trashes this rubbish and trash. And gleefully, my name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism, or Revisited, and the boastful and pompous former visiting professor of psychology currently on the faculty of SIAS-CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies, Toronto, Canada, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Outreach Campus in Lagos, Nigeria.
Let us delve right in.
There's a new study. It is titled The Relationship Between Narcissist Traits and Attitudes Towards Infidelity, Adjacency Analysis. It was published in the Journal of Family Psychology. It was authored by Gewilsz Medan, Elisabeth, Finzi Dottan, and others.
And I'm going to review this interesting study and its new discoveries.
But before I do, I would like to tell you something about a woman. Her name was Luz Salome. And she was the companion, the correspondent of the lover or the lover of many intellectuals in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century all over Europe. She got married and then she repeatedly cheated on her husband for decades, ostentatiously traveling with her lovers all over the world and so on and so forth. And then she got sick and she was remitted to hospital. Her husband visited her during the six-week stay.
And Sigmund Freud was very touched. He wrote, "Only what is genuinely true proves itself so long-lasting."
In short, what he said was that the husband's devotion to his cheating, unfaithful, shall we say narcissistic wife was a true, amazingly authentic thing which should be admired and appreciated.
And this is one of the very few times where I think that Sigmund Freud said something stupid, extremely stupid.
Because I think the husband's behavior didn't have anything to do with love or with commitment or with attachment or with bonding. It had a lot to do with codependency and possibly a streak of masochism.
And Freud should have known that better than anyone because he has been amongst the interlocutors of this woman and there have been persistent rumors that he had been her lover.
Sigmund Freud, minus in this case, not good. Stupid actually.
But it's a wonderful segue into the issue of cheating by narcissists, yes or no.
Before we go on, let us briefly define grandiose overt narcissism as opposed to covert fragile narcissism.
Grandiose narcissism is when individuals have a sense of inflated self, a fantastic grandiose perception or self image. They crave attention, admiration, adulation, they have a sense of entitlement, they want to be the center of attention, the life of the party. That is grandiose overt narcissism. They are perceived often as extroverted. And then vulnerable narcissism, aka covert narcissism, fragile narcissism, shy narcissism, vulnerable narcissism is characterized by individuals who have a fragile self-esteem, highly sensitive to criticism, and they often seek reassurance and validation from others.
And this is why currently we are beginning to reconceptualize the field of narcissism by saying that only vulnerable narcissists are actually narcissists, while overt and grandiose narcissists resemble psychopaths to a large degree.
Okay, academic hair splitting aside, we have these two types of narcissists.
And this study that I've mentioned at the beginning of this video, try to ascertain, try to link specific types of narcissism to cheating behavior, adultery, extramarital affairs, unfaithfulness.
So the researchers found first that men have more favorable attitudes towards infidelity than women do. A big surprise here.
And this is consistent with a lot of previous research. Men are more accepting of infidelity in relationships, as long as it is their infidelity. They are much less tolerant when it comes to the partner's infidelity.
As far as female participants, the grandiose narcissism of female participants was associated more strongly with favorable attitudes to infidelity.
Now pay attention here, because there are serious gender differences, serious differences between men and women.
Grandiose narcissistic women had more favorable attitudes towards infidelity.
In this sense, grandiose narcissistic women resemble men, typical men, average men, even non-narcissistic men. Female participants in the study reported less favorable attitudes when their partners had higher levels of grandiose narcissism.
So the intimate partners of grandiose narcissists are less likely to cheat.
Overt grandiose narcissistic women are more likely to cheat.
But there were no significant associations between grandiose narcissism and attitudes towards infidelity among men.
Now here's the amazing fact. If you are a grandiose overt classical in your face narcissist, but you're a woman, you're more likely to cheat. If you're the very same thing, grandiose overt classical narcissist, but you're a man, you're not more likely to cheat.
I repeat this because it flies in the face of all the trashy nonsense online.
Grandiose overt narcissists, men are not more likely to cheat. Women are.
And if you are the partner of someone with grandiose overt narcissism, you are less likely to cheat. Not more likely to cheat, less likely to cheat.
You see, that's why I love studies in psychology. They fly in the face of a lot of myths and nonsense and they show us the truth.
However, victims, especially victims of narcissistic abuse tend to reject the truth because it doesn't sit well with the morality play where they are angels and narcissists are demons.
Let's continue with science or at least with studies rather than with wishful thinking masquerading as expertise.
Both male and female participants with higher levels of vulnerable narcissism reported more favorable attitudes towards infidelity.
So vulnerable narcissists, male or female, are more likely to cheat.
However, only male participants showed more favorable attitudes when their partners had higher levels of vulnerable narcissism.
Let me help you here. If you are a female covert narcissist, you're more likely to cheat. If you're a male covert narcissist, you're more likely to cheat. If you're a female covert narcissist and your partner has a higher level of covert narcissism, you're more likely to cheat. If you're a male covert narcissist and your partner has a higher level of covert narcissism, you're not more likely to cheat.
Make, create this table, create this diagram.
The study suggests, Gewertz Midan gave an interview to Saipos and said, the study suggests that attitudes towards infidelity in romantic relationships can be influenced not only by an individual's own narcissistic traits, but also by their partner's narcissistic traits.
Specifically, it highlights that females favorable out attitudes towards infidelity are associated with their own grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, as well as their partner's grandiose narcissism.
On the other hand, males favorable attitudes towards infidelity are associated with their own vulnerable narcissism and their partner's vulnerable narcissism.
Associated negatively or positively, of course, yes, there's an influence.
The study emphasizes the importance of considering different aspects of narcissism when examining infidelity in relationships. And it also underscores the potential impact of narcissistic traits on intimate relationships.
Individuals with narcissistic traits may be more prone to infidelity due to the sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, need for validation, impulsivity, emotional detachment, and thrill seeking behavior.
But this is true among covert narcissists, not among overt grandiose narcissists.
A major upheaval, a major upheaval in the wrong information we have been having online at least, hitherto.
But this is the background.
Let's now delve into the issue of the psychodynamics of infidelity.
What causes narcissists to cheat?
Some narcissists cheat less, some narcissists cheat more, combinations of narcissists enhance each other's lack of faithfulness, infidelity.
One type of narcissist inhibits other types of infidelity and so on and so forth. This study exposes the intricate dynamics between some types of narcissists.
And again, some types of narcissism inhibit cheating, prevent it, reduce it. And some types of narcissism enhance it and increase it, these types create favorable attitudes.
So, but still narcissists like everyone else end up having extramarital affairs, cheating, deceiving their partners.
And it would be who has to ask the question, why? What is the specific psychological dynamic or dynamics behind adultery, behind infidelity and unfaithfulness, of narcissists? Is it different to the psychodynamics of an average, normal, healthy person?
First of all, I would like to read to you something written by an acquaintance of mine. I had the privilege of spending some time with him and learning about sexuality from him. He's a leading sexologist. His name is Marty Klein. And he has this newsletter titled Sexual Intelligence. And the latest, I think number 56, video quickie number 56 was titled infidelity myths. And he writes, "As long as there have been committed couples, there has been infidelity." As you can see in the Bible, Shakespeare and the modern tales of Alfred Hocken, Taylor Swift.
Infidelity is one of the top reasons people see a therapist either alone or as a couple. Most people think they know something about it as a general subject.
But when infidelity actually occurs in someone's life, they need to share the common myths about it and quickly.
And then he enumerates four common myths.
Now these myths apply to infidelity in the general population, not in clinical settings and not specifically among narcissists. So these are general myths.
Number one, you can prevent your partner from cheating. You can't.
Number two, affairs are usually about sex. They're not.
Number three, some people are simply sex addicts. Partly true, largely not true.
Number four, it's always better. The relationship, the alternative relationship is always better. Not true.
So these are the general myths.
But now we need to consider another study. And this study has to do with promiscuity and the connection between promiscuity, cheating and divorce.
Now promiscuity is on the rise in Western industrialized countries and not only in Western industrialized countries. I would say it's on the rise globally.
And promiscuity is being defined and redefined and the goalposts are being moved constantly. The common cutoff number is nine partners, nine lifetime partners, full fledged sex. If you cross this number, allegedly, you become promiscuous.
Generally speaking, premarital intercourse is a really good predictor of divorce.
Now, we don't quite know why. There were all kinds of theories about the bridge of traditional relationship values, beliefs, all kinds of theories about why people who have premarital relationships possibly carry these relationships into the marriage. What I call the intimacy cloud, you know, all the excess revolving around your partner makes your marriage very difficult to maintain.
How does the past affect the present? And the future is a generally a general commandment in psychology. It dates back 150 years. We've been trying to understand the answer to this for, you know, well over two centuries and not very successfully.
The number of sexual partners a person has before marriage plays a role in cheating, infidelity and divorce. This role differs by gender, but it is universal across all relationships everywhere, all committed, invested relationships.
The question is, how many previous partners affect the future of a relationship? Is there a magic number? Is there an ingenious method to find out?
So there are studies, for example, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and so there's a lot of information there. And people have been mining this study.
Researchers, scholars have been mining this study for decades now. And they were trying to kind of categorize the data in divided by age groups, by demographics, by socioeconomic strata, by, you know, generations and so on and so forth.
There was dynamic research, static research and so on and so on.
And so one of the clear conclusions is that the number of premarital partners is intimately and directly connected, probably not only as a correlation, but some kind of causation is connected to divorce and to cheating, to infidelity. Promiscuity leads to much higher rates of divorce, up to five times higher actually, and to much higher rates of infidelity.
And in the past, people with a history of promiscuity reported far less contentment, far less happiness in committed relationships. They were much more easily bored and they experienced distress and discontent and they wanted out. They wanted out.
So the relationship between premarital intercourse, infidelity and divorce was, as the studies say, and I'm quoting, "significant and robust, even when accounting for early life factors.
Actually, there is a number and surprisingly, it's the very same number that defines promiscuity, nine lifetime partners.
When someone crosses this number, nine lifetime partners, their chances of committing infidelity, adultery and divorce are much higher. No one knows why nine, why not 16 and why not three. Simply no one knows.
But people with nine partners and more are much higher risks in intimate, committed, long-term relationships, including marriage.
Now, here are the groups. If you have nine partners or a higher figure, your risk of divorcing and committing infidelity is high, very high actually. If you have between one and eight partners, your risk is reduced. You're much less likely to divorce and less likely to commit infidelity.
And if you have never had a partner, like if you're a virgin, when you get married or when you enter a committed relationship, the chances for divorce and infidelity are almost nil.
So you see, the previous generations, the patriarchy, they knew something about life. They encouraged men to marry virgins.
And this is substantiated by research now. Virgins are much less likely to divorce and much less likely to cheat on you.
And yes, this applies to both genders, by the way. I'm quoting from the study. "Those with one to eight partners are also at greater risk of divorce, though this coefficient is weaker than those with nine to more partners. The odds for those with eight premarital partners were 64% higher than those with no partners.
People with the lowest risk of a future divorce had no previous premarital partners.
There were virgins.
And they had non-spousal relationships.
So there's a very real relationship between the number of partners one had before the marriage, the future possibility of infidelity and divorce.
And I repeat, this is true across all genders, male, female, and in between. This is not limited to women.
So this is not a chauvinistic, misogynistic message. It applies equally the same force to men.
The authors of the study are surprisingly surprised. They say, this is a surprising finding.
By the way, I don't find it surprising at all. I think there's a lot of wisdom in the sexual scripts and social sexual scripts of previous generations. And that we have done this wisdom is our minus, our bad, our stupidity, collective stupidity.
And one piece of this wisdom was, make your partner your first partner, then your chances to divorce or to commit infidelity are close to zero. And it's true.
This is the way it is.
But the authors are probably postmodern scholars. And so they're surprised. They say, this is a surprising finding.
The domains of sexuality and marriage are highly gendered. And they said that previous research has shown many plausible theoretical pathways, but still they're surprised.
The study was published in the Journal of Family Issues. And it contained a few other interesting new discoveries.
There was a finding, for example, that those who married for the first time later in life divorced about 10% of the time, which is a lot less than the average, and so on and so forth.
The research has found that roughly 21% of marriages have ended in divorce and an overwhelming majority of people, 84%, reported having had premarital or non-spousal relationships during the period of the study, of course. So the overwhelming majority of people who ended up cheating on each other and divorcing have had premarital and non-spousal relationships before.
Many of them have been actually promiscuous. They've had more than nine partners, which is pretty common nowadays.
Okay, this is the general picture of infidelity, psychodynamics, statistics, gender issues, and so on. Let's revert or focus or home in, zero in on narcissists.
Why do narcissists cheat on their partners? Why do they commit adultery? And why do they have extramarital affairs and liaisons?
Now remember the beginning of this video.
Not all narcissists are made the same.
Overt grandiose narcissists cheat less, not more. Covert vulnerable narcissists cheat more, whether they're women or men.
If your partner is an overt grandiose narcissist, you're likely to cheat less. If your partner is a covert narcissist and you're a woman, you're likely to cheat more. If your partner is a covert narcissist and you're a man, you're likely to cheat less.
Amazing, amazing findings in Israel. It's an Israeli study. Israel has become the center of victimhood studies and now it's becoming a center of narcissism studies. Kudos.
So narcissists do cheat depending on the type of narcissist, covert or overt, depending on the type of partner, covert or overt.
Still, there is cheating among narcissists exactly as there is cheating among the general population, you, the listeners, the viewers.
So, but the reasons narcissists cheat, the etiology of cheating, the reasons which cause narcissists to cheat, the psychodynamic processes underlying infidelity, in the case of narcissists, they're different.
And I'm going to describe this to you.
Number one, narcissistic supply.
In the quest for narcissistic supply, the somatic narcissist resorts to serial sexual conquests, which inevitably involve cheating or infidelity if he is in a committed relationship.
Number two, narcissists exactly like psychopaths and to some extent borderlines are easily bored. They have what we call a low boredom threshold. They have a lot tolerance for boredom as well. They don't tolerate it.
Well, sexual dalliances, affairs, flings alleviate these nagging and frustrating and we, the quest for novelty, thrills, thrill seeking, diversions, even risk, the forbidden, the suffocation for one's own life. This is combined with the journey of self exploration and discovery that involves filling in the gaps in the narcissist biography.
Narcissism, pathological narcissism is a reaction to a thwarted, subverted, stunted, arrested development, childhood development.
So there is a period of missed adolescence. So the narcissist fills in these gaps via extramarital affairs or extra dyadic affairs.
He finds a lover, finds a mistress, finds a partner for one night stand and that is the way he experiences the adolescence he's never had or maybe reawakened an old flame or found a new aspect of his personality.
It's a journey of self exploration. It's self-administered therapy via sex in a way.
Number three, narcissists maintain an island and focus of stability in their lives but all the other dimensions of the narcissist existence are chaotic, unstable and unpredictable and this is what I call the twister formation.
There's the eye of the storm, the eye of the hurricane and there's the twister.
So the twister formation serves many emotional needs and I describe this in another video and so a narcissist may be a model employee. He may pursue a career path over many decades even as he cheats on his wife, freighters the couple's savings away and divorces and remarries six times.
In other words, cheating, infidelity in this case is part and parcel of the narcissist chaotic life. He has one island of stability and all the rest is a whirlpool, some maelstrom and infidelity is a part of this.
He actually leverages or uses extra marital affairs, flings, infidelity and unfaithfulness in order to destabilize the parts of his life that he wants to get rid of.
Number four, narcissists feel superior and important and so they feel entitled to be above the law and engaging behaviors that are frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable in others.
Narcissists reject and vehemently resent all limitations and conditions placed upon them by their partners. They are contumacious, they are defiant, they act on their impulses, they are reckless and they pursue their desires unencumbered by social conventions and strictures.
This is the antisocial aspect and dimension of the narcissist, his psychopathic side.
Number five, marriage, monogamy, childbearing, childrearing, they are common activities that characterize the average person.
Narcissist feels robbed of his uniqueness by these pursuits, coerced into the relationship and into roles such as husband and father that reduce him to the lowest of common denominators.
Being faithful to his wife, being a good father or a good mother, of course there are many female narcissists, about half of all narcissists are female, so being a good parent, being a great spouse, anyone can do that. That's common, that's average.
The narcissist is special, he's unique, he's god-like, he's above the free volitions of life, the mundane and the humdrum and the pedestrian. He resents and rejects these impositions.
The narcissist when confronted with a need to act faithfully within a committed relationship endures narcissistic injury because it says a committed relationship says you are like everybody else, everyone else has a relationship, everyone has children, everyone gets married, you're just like everyone. You're not special, you're not unique, you're not sui genovese, the narcissist resents it and he rebels and he reasserts his superiority and his specialness by maintaining extra marital affairs, by acting unfaithfully, infidelity is his ticket to standing out and being noticed.
Number six, narcissists are control freaks. Having a relationship implies a give and take, a train of compromises which the narcissist acutely interprets to mean loss of control over his life.
In a relationship the narcissist feels almost immediately, almost instantly shackled, imprisoned, incarcerated, a hostage and to reassert control over his life the narcissist initiates other relationships in which he is the one to dictate the terms of engagement, love affairs for example.
Number seven, narcissists are terrified of intimacy and commitment. Commitment forms, their behavior is best characterized as an approach avoidance, repetition, compulsion. Adultery is an excellent tool in an attempt to destroy intimacy and to resort to a less threatening, more loose mode of interaction with the intimate partner or so-called intimate partner.
In short, by triangulating with other people, by having sex with someone else, by falling in love with someone else, by doing both with someone else, the narcissist introduces uncertainty and indeterminacy, reduces the likelihood of intimacy and redefines the relationship with his partner on terms which are more free, more loose, less committed.
Narcissists typically claim that they have cheated in order to put the spark back into the relationship with the spouse or primary intimate partner.
Of course, how exactly an act of betrayal, deceit and faithlessness, how such an act can rekindle the embers of a relationship is beyond me.
Relationships are founded initially on trust and sexual and emotional exclusivity and by undermining, by subverting these, you cannot rekindle the relationship.
On the very contrary, you suffocate it, you kill it.
But narcissists don't see it that way. They regard their exploits, their adventures, sexual adventures outside the dyad, outside the couple, as a great way to rejuvenate the couple somehow.
They believe in the power of triangulation perhaps or maybe they have cuckold fantasies or maybe they have masochistic deep inside.
It's not very clear, but they sincerely believe that there's nothing wrong with infidelity if you bring back the experience into the couple and use it to refuel and recharge the relationship.
In the wake of an affair, the narcissist possesses the perfect alibi. If he does try to revive his sex life with his spouse and he fails, he can proudly say, "I left no stone unturned. I even went as far as cheating on my partner," all in order to resurrect our bond and revive our sexual life.
And if he doesn't try to reanimate his sex life with his spouse, he turns it around as well and he says, "This is proof that the relationship was doomed to start with, was already dead. And what I did was therefore not cheating. I was actually forced to seek sexual and emotional alternatives by the dead weight of this so-called long-lapsed relationship."
Narcissists will always find a way to self-indicate and explain why what they have done, however immoral, however reprehensible, was for the greater good and definitely for the good of their insignificant other and so-called intimate so-called partner.
Narcissists are free spirits. They are like the wind, about as substantial and about as beneficial when it reaches hurricane 5 levels.