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June 1st is World Narcissist Abuse Awareness day.
I will write about this as many times as I can to help to shed some light for those of you who are trapped within this dynamic or are dealing with the aftermath of it—in hopes that it can help you to find your way back to you and begin your healing.
This post will primarily focus on the infidelity of people diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
In my experience, narcissists are not loyal. They cheat often, and even if it may not be by having actual physical sex with someone, I can assure you that they have engaged in disloyal relations at some point in your relationship—and probably more than once.
This was a hard truth for me to come to terms with…mostly because our initial response to that is to think how unworthy we are. We can spiral into shame as feelings of unworthiness and being unlovable crash over us like a tsunami. But the one thing we need to learn fast is that the narcissist choosing someone else has zero to do with us at all. Seeking therapy and friends who will support you during your healing is going to be crucial to help you undo the programming of these false beliefs.
The reality is that even at your most perfect and attractive state, a narcissist can cheat on you and be disloyal—because it has to do with their own inner loathing.
How do narcissists cheat?
Well, for starters, they love to keep their exes on the sidelines as possible “supply” for when they have their lulls.
Because they need the constant highs and fixes, once things start to settle in their relationship or the other person gets wise to them and calls them out, or anything really, they will need a fix from someone who will give them their undivided attention. An ex who is still in love with you or hooked by you is perfect for this. Why? Well, for those of us who have been with narcissists, we know how intense that connection can be…and then how rocky and rollercoaster it is after. We also know how devastating the “devalue stage” is when we begin to receive “breadcrumbs,” which is a type of intermittent reinforcement.
These types of dynamics are what prime us to be trauma bonded with the individual. And eventually, during the “discard phase,” we feel a deep devastation, loss, and hole within us that feels like nobody but them will ever be able to fill. So, when they reach out and suddenly pay us all this attention, it’s normal to feel a huge surge of “feel-good” emotions, or a surge of dopamine. We feel elated that they are “choosing us.”
They pay us special attention, make small, inside jokes with us, and maybe even make a complaint about their current partner. They might throw in flattery or take it up a notch and say how “no one was ever as good as you.” Thus making us excellent targets for supply as the groundwork has already been laid. We are yearning for them to choose us and we desperately want that. We feel intoxication when we connect with them, even if it’s just a message after a long bout of silence.
And the kicker is: they know this. They can feel it immediately. And I promise you that they are not thinking the same as you. This is why going no contact with an ex who is like this is crucial for our healing. And if I’m being honest, someone keeping all their exes as friends on the sideline would be a red flag for me—because let’s be real here: most breakups are not mutual and on good terms, so we know that there is someone in that dynamic who was let go and someone who is holding on. So, that is something to keep your eye on.
But they don’t only cheat with exes.
Narcissists love keeping friends who like them on the sidelines for the amount of attention and adoration they constantly give them. They might flirt with you or just be super friendly. They know how you feel but they tell you they don’t want a relationship with you. They keep you hooked on the “almost” table or “maybe” or “there could be a possibility”—and if all else fails, we stay on the bench just happy to be in their company because of the intense dynamic and chemistry we experience with these people. Rest assured that even if you don’t tell them about your feelings, they absolutely know and will milk it any time that they need a fix.
These people that get hooked tend to be strong, warm-hearted individuals with their own trauma and feelings of unworthiness who have the tendency to pick toxic people as partners. And some of the reasons they might not pick us as a “partner” could be because of something external about us. Narcissists tend to be shallow and materialistic, and there could very well be a physical reason why they won’t choose us. Or it could be because they have their eye on someone else. Or, they do have someone else and we don’t even know about it. They are masters of lying and deceit. They keep their affairs hidden. Narcissists will also keep other narcissist friends who are like them and might engage in promiscuous sexual encounters with them from time to time.
Narcissists may also cheat by having online dating profiles and talking with several people online while in a relationship. Or even people they know from work or their other groups. They might engage in flirting or sexting with these people. They may even have no intention of meeting them—they just need that constant flow of supply.
The intensity of these things, because they “shouldn’t be doing it,” really raises the stakes for them and gives them the type of high that they need—because narcissists, at the end of the day, are incapable of providing themselves with inner fulfillment and joy and are on a constant hunt for outward stimulus to fill their gaping void of self-loathing. Their inability to sit with their pain leads them to frantically and perpetually search for something to quell that within them; thus, these online dating profiles give them massive bursts of highs to drown out that which they refuse to face.
The bottom line is: someone who is a narcissist or has narcissistic tendencies has a high chance of cheating and being disloyal.
Engaging in promiscuous and “dangerous” encounters is exhilarating to some. For those who stay in long-term relationships, they often stay because they are like a leech, and once they have no need for us and have drained us of our supply and we are “spent,” they move onto someone else…who they have already been grooming and priming in the background for a while now.
This is certain because a narcissist will absolutely never leave you unless they already have someone secure lined up for them. They have fed that new supply lies and fabrications about you, so as angry as you want to be toward this person, keep in mind that the narcissist has filled their head with stories about your being “crazy” and a myriad of other things. They are being duped, too.
I don’t want to end this with the intensity of feelings you may have, now that you’ve come to the realization of many things while reading this. I want to end this on a positive note.
There is so much to read out there about narcissists and we can use our own discernment about what applies to us and what does not, but when we choose to move away from a relationship with a narcissist and heal, we learn that it was never about them and they have no bearing on our life. Instead, it was about our own inner wounding that leads us to choose someone else and not choose ourselves.
Yesterday marked seven years of no contact for me.
I began my journey a long time ago, and though I have been over my last relationship for a long while now, the journey has since became solely about me—the unlearning and healing of past programming.
You see, I had to investigate the “why” behind choosing people who were like this.
The reality is that many of the red flags were there in the beginning. But I didn’t understand what red flags were and I had no idea what a boundary was or how to even place one. In fact, even when I did learn what they were, noticing how incapable I was of placing and holding a boundary was absolutely terrifying! I have come a long way since then. I have had a massive spiritual awakening and have gone through a few dark night of the souls. I have learned how to face my shadow parts, do the inner work, and release not only my own trauma, but the ancestral trauma and programming I have been carrying from many generations.
So, what does that all mean? It means that now, when I am faced with a similar situation, I choose differently. I choose me. I place the boundary. And I hold it firmly.
Having that awareness is what truly gives me joy and makes me recognize the win.
What might that look like? Here is an example:
After chatting with someone for a couple of months and things seemingly going well, the moment appeared when he brought forward his aggressive stance on something and gave absolutely no room to discuss it, and when I asserted my own stance in a kind, open, and respectful way, his response was to shut it down, a refusal to budge. He said that we should stop talking, to which I immediately replied, “that’s a really good idea.” And that was that.
At first I was angry at his audacity! And that I wasted those weeks on someone who was suddenly this gross and angry person on a subject that was so very important to me—which, I might add, I thought we were in agreement on in the beginning. But after I had a moment to pause and reflect, I was actually so pleased and proud of myself. And I felt good!
Why? Well, here is why this is the most important part:
The old me would have been spiraling into anxiety, wanting to keep the lines of communication open, trying desperately to explain and smooth things over with him—because I just wanted to be chosen and keep that connection going.
The reality is, many of those “red flag moments” were present in my previous narcissist relationships and when those moments came up in the beginning, I stayed. I let it slide. I made excuses and I yielded and I submitted to them. Every single time, I stayed.
But this time, I didn’t.
And each and every time that I choose me, I am reinforcing that pattern. I am setting the tone for what I allow and making it known what my worth is and that I am well aware of it. And it never escalates past the beginning stages anymore.
So, know that your healing is never in vain. You are now armed with an arsenal of tools and awareness that are going to lead you toward the best possible version of you.
And it doesn’t just stop there. You will stop tolerating “less than” things across the board: in your workplace, your friendships, family, and habits. All the things that do not align with your best version of you will suddenly feel repellant to you. You will gravitate toward the things that feed your soul and your spirit. You will want to nurture yourself, you’ll crave those things. Because when we embark on this healing journey after narcissist abuse, the aftermath of all of that is the most extraordinary growth that you will ever experience in your lifetime. A true phoenix rising from the flames moment. And I want that for all of you. You want that for you!
So, be proud of yourself wherever you are in your journey. Know that you are not alone. And for those who haven’t even begun yet, know that there is help, you can get out, you can stop the cycle, and it does get better. And most importantly, you absolutely deserve love in its entirety and purest form. Begin by choosing you and loving you. You are worthy, beautiful, and magnificent, even if somewhere along the line someone made you believe that you were not. They lied. And it’s time to claim back your glorious power.