How do you know if you’re married to a narcissist? How can you tell if your spouse is a narcissist, or if they’re just unwittingly submitting to their own trauma? Can they heal, or is your marriage doomed to be toxic forever? Married or not, if you’ve ever been in a sexual or romantic relationship with a narcissist, you might already understand that they often seem to be more interested in sex and pleasure than actual emotional intimacy.
It isn’t quite that simple, though, because some narcissists – specifically those of a more covert and/or cerebral nature, actually tend to reject sexual experiences, and are less likely to cheat on a partner – but more likely to slide under the radar of even their own victims.
Narcissists, Intimacy and Sex in Marriage
In fact, narcissists and those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) “are more likely to philander and dump their partners than people who view important parts of a relationship,” according to psychologist Ilan Shrira.
“Narcissists have a heightened sense of sexuality, but they tend to view sex very differently than other people do,” said Shrira, whose 2006 study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. “They see sexuality more in terms of power, influence and as something daring, in contrast to people with low narcissistic qualities who associated sex more with caring and love.”
That’s why some narcissists tend to bounce from one relationship to the next—and most often, the relationships don’t last long and they don’t involve much emotional intimacy.
Lack of Emotional Intimacy and Connection in Toxic Relationships
“Even when they’re in a relationship, they always seem to be on the lookout for other partners and searching for a better deal,” Shrira said after the study. “Whether that’s because of their heightened sexuality or because they think multiple partners enhance their self-image isn’t entirely clear.”
Narcissists typically have an inflated sense of their own level of importance and they expect people around them to admire them and cater to them.
They often appear to have an overblown ego and can be very charming if they choose to be.
12 Signs You’re Married to a Narcissist
According to authors Steven Carter and Julia Sokol in their book Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist, there are ways to know if your significant other is a narcissist.
They are as follows:
- It feels like you’re the one doing most of the “work” in the relationship.
- Your partner does things to sabotage the relationship and prevent it from moving forward—but doesn’t want to let you go either.
- Your partner could have a history of troubled relationships and/or addictions.
- Your partner has episodes of excessive and often unjustified anger— sometimes even infidelity—and he or she somehow makes it all your fault.
- You feel emotionally exhausted, often completely drained, by how hard you have to work to make or keep your partner happy.
- The relationship is mostly focused around your partner’s interests and activities. When it’s not, there will be an ugly argument or outburst.
- You feel controlled or manipulated by your partner’s moods to the point that you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time, a slave to his or her whims.
- You might find yourself covering up, explaining, or apologizing for his or her behavior.
- Your partner might make one-sided decisions that impact your safety and well-being.
- You might feel unsafe by some of the actions your partner takes.
- Your partner will refuse to see your good intentions, always blaming you for every situation, always making you admit you’re wrong, even when that’s not the case.
- You sometimes find yourself desperately trying to remember the times when your partner showed love for you, acted like you could do no wrong—often this is in the early parts of the relationship.
Narcissistic Abuse in Marriage: Recovery Support & Resources
If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.