One of the areas least discussed and most problematic when you are married to a narcissist is sex. It can be described in one of two ways:
- He has a constant desire for sex and wants you to be available at all times, according to his whim and what’s happening in his pants.
- He has little desire for sex and you go for long stretches without it. You have to beg for it and even then he often turns you down.
While it might seem odd that Narcissists, who are all pretty predictable in other ways, can be so opposite when it comes to their sexuality it really isn’t. You must remember that everything in a narcissist’s life is about controlling you. It’s how he gets his energy. Like an emotional vampire he sucks it out of you any way he can. Sex is one of the best ways of getting control.
Intimacy Isn’t on the Menu
Intimacy is a requirement for good, healthy sex. It’s about more than the physical responses as anyone in a healthy relationship knows. Your narcissistic husband (or ex) does not allow intimacy because that would make him vulnerable like the rest of us. He is above that so, while he may say and do all of the right things, you always have the feeling that something is lacking. You feel like he isn’t really with you, there is no spiritual or emotional connection, and even though he may be skilled at creating pleasure (when he wants to) it almost seems like you are not there.
That’s because narcissists use their partners as warm, living blow-up dolls. They are, in essence, masturbating only you are the vehicle. Most narcissists would not, or at least not admit, to masturbating by themselves because they are above all of that. It’s OK though, they can use you for that purpose.
I bet that really turns you on, doesn’t it?
The Narcissist’s Three Stages of Relationship
If you don’t identify with what I’ve said above you may be in one of the earlier stages of the relationship, or your narcissist may have some other reason for making the effort to keep it hot. Perhaps he heard you mention to a friend that the sex was great or thinks that you may be talking about it with someone. This way he can be admired by more people.
In any case, most narcissists go through the following three stages of sex.
First Stage: Pursuit
You’ve met the guy. He is amazing in every way, in fact it’s almost unbelievable. He is romantic, he whispers sexy sweet things in your ear. He gives you foot rubs, he buys you flowers, and all of his attention is on you.
You feel adored in every way and fall hook, line, and sinker.
Here’s what’s really going on. He has seen you and you fit his needs for now. You make him look good in some way and lift him up in the eyes of his peers. Maybe someone else was courting you and he decided to create an unspoken competition to steal you away from a less suave opponent. You can be sure that no matter what interested him in you he feels it will move him closer to his goals in some way. Prestige.
Second Stage: Entrapment
The last grain of rice is hardly brushed from your hair, your wedding bouquet is still fresh and suddenly you feel that something has changed but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
It isn’t always marriage. Sometimes it’s a ring, moving in together, a baby, or you quitting your job to be a homemaker but as soon as he has a commitment from you in some way he owns you. Now there is no longer a need to make an effort to win you over. You have become a part of him just like his arm or leg. He can control his arm at will without an effort and that’s what he expects from you, too.
It’s sometime during this time that sex will become a battlefield in in way or another. He’ll either be grabbing at you every time you pass in the hall and require sex often (even several times a day), or he will decide that he can control you best by withholding it.
It’s about Control
My ex would withhold sex for long periods of time. Six week, eight weeks, sometimes more. I could ask, beg, plead, or wear the sexiest nightie available and it would not matter. He would kiss me goodnight, give me a perfunctory “I love you”, and roll over with his back to me. No cuddling, no intimate whispering, and no implication of desire. It was less intimate than sleeping with your best friend at a sleepover.
When I went for counsel with a woman at our church I was told to wear sexy nighties and let him be in control. This is the worst advice ever and I wish I had known it at the time! Doing that will just feed his narcissism.
And it did.
I have a high sex drive. Not having sex for a long period of time is uncomfortable for me physically as well as emotionally. During one counseling session he let the counselor know that my masturbation bothered him. She asked me to stop so as not to overwhelm him. I stopped and you know what? Now he had full control of my sexuality – as much as if we were into BDSM and I was wearing a leather chastity belt (and no I am not into that). Not only was he in control of when and where we had sex, he was now in control of when I was allowed to have an orgasm.
One Way in Public Another at Home
When we were around other people he would act like we were doing it like bunnies. Even around our kids he’d make comments and insinuations about our amazing sex life. Everyone saw us as the perfect couple. I didn’t defend myself because I wanted to make my marriage work so I continually looked for ways to be better, sexier, cuter, sweeter, and a wife he could be proud of.
The only time that he couldn’t keep his hands off of me is the one or two times that I told him no. Once I was so angry about everything that I turned my back to him and didn’t even say goodnight. He kept touching me, whispering how much he wanted me, and all the rest of it. He pulled me over onto my back. I did not resist.
When it was over I sobbed. You know what he said? “I thought you wanted to.”
At some point you realize that you are trapped
Third Stage: Abandonment
You finally “get it”. It took me a long time because I am stubborn and I wanted to have a happily ever after life. You begin to resist being his Stepford wife and you begin to express your own ideas, thoughts and opinions. You argue, you cry, and you check up on all of his lies.
Now he has to figure out another way to control you. Maybe you get the silent treatment and are shunned for hours or days. This can be quite nice, actually. Verbal abuse will start and he will disdain you, cut you down, scream at you, or hurt you in some other way with his words. Your responses are labeled “drama” in his file and he tells you that you’re overreacting, deceived, or a complete narcissist who thinks the world revolves around you. It works for him because he is still feeding off of your emotions and he is still controlling your world.
Once you decide to stop reacting to him in any way he loses something he desperately needs. One of two things happens at this point but the end result is the same. Either he will find another victim and manufacture a reason to leave or you will decide you are not going to live like this anymore and you leave.
Moving on with Your Life
If you think that once you are out of it you can go back to being your normal, confident self you are wrong. You are going to have to look at everything you believe about yourself, write it down, and then go through it to see what is true and which things are lies that you have been fed for so long that you have accepted them. It can be a long and difficult process so you might want to consider getting counseling.
Just as a side note – I’ve read articles by various people, some of whom are psychiatrists, which discuss how to live with a narcissist. According to these articles it can be done successfully. My question is this – maybe it can but why would you want to?
See? You aren’t alone. Many women have gone through the exact same thing. Join First Wives World today to share your story and help yourself, as well as others, move into a place of healing.
All images Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons. Thanks to EKelly89& Ctwiler12