Narcissists are prone to cheat, yet will have adverse reactions if their partner cheats. This information comes from two recent studies. I’ve included the links below.
A study done in Denmark shows that narcissists are inclined to cheat the lower relationship satisfaction is. Higher relationship satisfaction promotes commitment, so, logically, a narcissist’s tendency to cheat may be more significant. We must ask ourselves, when have we ever heard of a narcissist being satisfied?
The authors of the study write, “Relative to non-narcissists, narcissistic individuals tend to be less committed to their romantic partners and to play games with their romantic partners; they also tend to be less satisfied.”
Covert and grandiose (overt) narcissists may react differently to the infidelity of their partners. However, if we look at the traits of narcissism, the bottom line is their responses to cheating stem from their need for entitlement and control.
In my experience and what I’ve heard from hundreds of survivors, here are the typical reactions when a narcissist finds out about a partner’s infidelity.
1.Blame and shame.
A narcissist may punish a partner for an affair for weeks, months, or years. Yet if the narcissist is caught cheating, that person might say something like, “You weren’t meeting my needs at home.”
2.Dole out the silent treatment or other passive-aggressive techniques.
Passive-aggressive techniques include backhanded compliments, procrastination, stonewalling, withdrawal, and the silent treatment. All of these are harmful to the victim. Psychologists say the silent treatment for prolonged periods is considered emotional abuse because it profoundly influences a person’s state of mind. The silent treatment tells the victim that you don’t matter or aren’t important or intelligent enough to speak with me.
3.Become the victim.
Narcissists might use phrases when they flip the script, such as, “I have worked so hard to give you everything you need. And now you cheat on me!” or “I am your biggest fan and supporter, and look what you’ve done!”
Some narcissists have even told their partners who had affairs, “I would never cheat on you,” while continuing their infidelity.
Narcissists may demand to know the details about the infidelity. They want to know where, when, how, and why. Then, they use those specifics later to punish and chastise their partner.
Narcissists don’t wait on karma or a higher power to seek vengeance. Instead, they may take matters into their own hands, such as confronting the other person in the relationship or withholding financial support.
If you drill down further, covert narcissists and overt narcissists may react differently to infidelity. The grandiose narcissist (GN), an energy vampire, is more likely to control a situation. A GN might establish restrictions on a partner’s friends, activities, money, and more. GN’s have been known to place tracking devices on the car or phone of their partner to watch every move that person makes.
The GN may show anger and jealousy but in a more controlled fashion. If there is a loud outburst, it’s often to flip the script and become the victim, hence a narcissistic injury.
The covert narcissist (CN) may show more jealousy and outrage than their GN counterparts. The study says such reactions are due to a CN’s paranoia and low self-esteem. While GN’s can regulate their self-esteem some of the time, CNs have difficulty dealing with any insult to their self-worth. The CN may also work to reduce their insecurity about the relationship by demanding loyalty or looking for another supply to discard the current partner.
It’s important to remember that a healthy relationship has mutual respect, trust, honesty, good communication, and compromise. The term “infidelity” is on the list of markers of a toxic or unhealthy relationship. Cheating is a sign that something is wrong in a monogamous relationship. In any harmful situation, therapy or relationship guidance may be in order.