People typically associate narcissism with that self-centred personality trait that is unpleasant to deal with. However, many do not know that it is also a key aspect of narcissistic personality disorder or NPD, which is no longer considered a personality trait but a mental disorder.
Narcissism goes beyond just having a swollen ego, as having NPD is also associated with lacking empathy for others, seeking instant gratification, and having an unhealthy craving for praise and admiration. As one might guess, people with NPD have a greater propensity to cheat in their relationships, as the main features of the disorder may inherently encourage infidelity.
Conventional vs Narcissistic Cheating Patterns
Cheating can occur in any relationship for many reasons, but narcissistic cheating is unlike conventional cheating in that it can be traced back to the features of NPD. For instance, individuals with narcissistic cheating behaviour generally display things like:
- Continuous betrayal and deception
- Lack of any feelings of guilt or remorse
- Objectification of their partner
- Manipulation tactics, and
- Self-serving justifications
The traits above arise in specific narcissistic cheating patterns whenever unfaithfulness occurs, which include the following:
1. Tall-tale telling
One aspect that is common among those exhibiting narcissistic cheating behaviours is telling outlandish stories about sexual encounters, which are more often than not complete fabrications meant to hurt their partner, validate their worth to them, or test the waters by seeing how they would react if they actually did cheat.
2. Serial cheating
According to professional counsellors in Singapore, severe deficiency in areas of interpersonal relationships is what defines personality disorders. In the case of NPD, the self-serving nature and incapability of feeling empathy for others translate to quickly moving from one partner to another, further exacerbated by the fact that people with NPD easily get bored once the novelty of being with someone new wears off.
3. Justifying cheating
Narcissists tend to attribute external factors to rationalising their infidelity, such as saying things like they deserve more admiration or attention or feel unfulfilled in the current relationship. They might also shift the blame to their partner by asserting that their actions would have been different if certain issues have not arisen.
4. Harem formation
As if serial cheating was not enough, narcissistic cheating in NPD could also involve having multiple partners simultaneously. Narcissists may go down this route to keep their options open since having more than one love interest ensures they will always have a source of admiration and praise. Moreover, it also serves to gather people who can serve their ego in a particular way.
5. Protectiveness over social media accounts
This universal red flag needs no introduction, but unlike conventional cheating, narcissists may turn the suspicion towards them back to their partner. In other words, they cannot trust their significant other to not cheat even though they are the only ones being unfaithful. As such, broaching the subject could result in the narcissist being the one to demand full access to accounts and passwords instead and react harshly or inflict some form of punishment should their partner refuse.
6. Extensive time away
This warning sign applies to conventional and narcissistic cheating and often comes in the form of taking frequent business trips, making new friends, or discovering new interests, which are all pursued while excluding the main partner. A person with narcissistic cheating behaviours may voice how they enjoy spending time with these new friends and hobbies to inflate their sense of self-worth and incite jealousy in their partner.
7. Increasing display of cruelty
Since people with narcissistic cheating behaviours typically do not see their partners as equals but rather as assets that can meet their needs, they may display increased cruelty in their actions once they deem that the latter no longer fulfils their purpose in the relationship. Thus, an uptick in abuse and cruelty often indicates they have found somewhere else to get all the validation they need, and the negativity towards their current partner is likened to punishment for no longer being perfect in their eyes.
The emotional manipulation from being in a relationship with someone who exhibits symptoms of NPD makes it difficult to recognise cheating or to know how to deal with it if it ever happens. With narcissistic personality disorder being a lifelong mental health condition, it is best to consult a therapist to see whether relationships with such partners are worth salvaging.
Here at A Space Between, we know how challenging it can be to get troubled relationships back on track. As such, besides matching you to the therapist best suited for your situation, we also provide you with a safe space to facilitate effective therapy. For more information about our services, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] or call (65) 8233 3832.
No matter what you’re facing, perhaps our website can offer up some solace or comfort. Know that you’re not alone, and that there is help available. This can be hard to keep in mind if you haven’t quite found the right support system. While it’s definitely not easy to find the right fit—whether you’re looking for a support group or a mental health provider—with diligence, it’s totally possible.
If you are a therapist, life coach or counsellor looking to join our growing community, head over to book a tour once you have learnt about the plans we offer. At A Space Between, there is a ready league of providers you can network with. With professionals from various backgrounds and therapy practices, there are bound to be the ones you can connect with. Private practice does not have to be lonely.