Infidelity and Narcissist

Voicing the Victims of Narcissistic Partners: A Qualitative Analysis of Responses to Narcissistic Injury and Self-Esteem Regulation.

By Valashjardi & Charles (2019)

SAGE Open; Apr-Jun2019, Vol. 9 Issue 2, pN.PAG-N.PAG, 1p

Excerpts reprinted below, Full Article

Narcissist feel special, superior and entitled.

“. . . he was always mad for no reason. He was always physically abusive when we argued. One time he sat on top of me and headbutted me on the nose because he saw a text I sent to a friend that he was “mentally ill.” I cried and panicked but he said it was my fault and later on showed remorse and started playing the victim. (Sarah—grandiose partner)”

Narcissist seek restoration of self-esteem through behaviors to undermine and derogate partners, often quite overtly, as a way to defend themselves against slightest injury and ego-threatening contexts.

“He didn’t like to be argued with, I should have just listened to him you know and have him taking over complete control. (Susan—grandiose partner)”

Common underlying trigger that evoked rage in narcissistic partners who displayed grandiose characteristics. 

“The minute I stood up against him or he felt he was losing control he would get aggressive and violent . . . once we were arguing and he knew he was losing the argument so he grabbed the iron, held it two inches from my face and said “I will burn you and nobody will ever look at you again.” (Jessica— grandiose partner)”

Common underlying trigger that fuels narcissistic rage, involves fear of being abandoned. Vulnerable characteristics of hypersensitivity, insecurity, jealousy, paranoia, control, and an exploitative interpersonal  style. Vulnerably narcissistic partners were perceived to regularly become enraged at the slightest fear of rejection or abandonment, underpinned by defenses against conscious vulnerability and interpersonal distress:

“Just the idea, the prospect of us breaking up freaked him out so much that I sort of had to take it back in a way you know because it seemed to utterly destroy him. (Elisabeth—vulnerable partner)”

“Well the fact that me and him were on the verge of breaking up for such a long time and never actually broke up says a lot about how he didn’t want me to ever leave him . . . (Rebecca— vulnerable partner)” 

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Infidelity refers to a fracture within a committed partnership, a partnership based on trust and mutuality.

Any relationship outside of the committed partnership can be considered infidelity…. any investment of time, money, energy, etc. that is taken away from the committed partnership. Beyond the damage to the committed partnership, Infidelity may also involve implications of cultural, religious and legal aspects. Sexual infidelity is rarely about sex! Typically, what is sought after is something missing in their own life – a sense of self-worth, relational issues, self-identity, self-care, and an understanding of moderation.

Types of Infidelity

Financial Infidelity

Secret money: incurring debt that partner or significant other is unaware of, and yet responsible for. Hiding funds from your partner or significant other.

Emotional Infidelity

Personal Information: sharing intimate details with someone outside of a committed relationship, in the attempt to gain outside support.

Online: typically an additional element of intimate information and/or visual stimulation involved.

Pornography: a) addictive, b) escalates requiring more time away from partner or significant other, c) desensitization in seeing people as object rather than individual, d) acting out sexually to replay the visual stimulus. (Dr. Victor Cline’s four progressive steps to porn addiction).

Physical Sexual Infidelity

Affairs: an infidelity that denotes an affectionate relationship that may or may not include a sexual relationship.

Sexual Liaisons: an interpersonal interaction entered into expressly for the purpose of sexual satisfaction; it can be for the satisfaction of one or both parties.

Sexual infidelity is rarely about sex!

Typically, what is sought after is something missing in their own life – a sense of self-worth, relational issues, self-identity, self-care, and an understanding of moderation.


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