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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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Recently, I responded to another FWW'r who blogged about how sex with her ex was painful.  This got me to thinking about my own experiences and some conclusions that I have reached over the past couple of years.

Sex doesn't have to be the be all, end all of a relationship, as my fiancé says "it's the icing on the cake".  We don't have a great relationship because the sex is great.  The sex is great because we have a great relationship.  I came to this revelation a few years ago and I learned a lot about my self.  The sexual relationship I have with (lets call him Dave) is (as odd as this may sound) one of the reasons that I knew early on in our relationship that he was NOT a narc.

I've decided the best way to explain these revelations is to discuss them as they came to me.   There really is no way to describe this without being completely open and honest, so if you are uncomfortable with the subject, please move along.  I am quite comfortable with my sexuality, but many are not, so again move along.  I promise there will be no graphic content, R rating not required.

I always thought that I liked sex and that my ex was a pretty good lover.  Turns out he was really bad, exceedingly selfish (I know shocker, huh) and at a subconscious level I didn't trust him.

On my journey to find meaning and explain the crazy, I found a list of 25 narcissist traits, one of which was narc's will withhold sex.  It was the one thing that did not match my ex.  I never really thought it applied to him because my ex wanted sex a lot, for the first half of our marriage almost daily, I would hide in the bathroom until I heard him snoring.  If I didn't give in he would act like a baby and the verbal battering and emotional abuse would ensue.  I didn't love him, I don't understand he needs to have sex, I was controlling, trying to punish him, frigid.  Eventually I learned to turn off and mentally went somewhere else.  There were several occasions where I asked my ex to stop doing something because I didn't like it.  I got the long sigh of disappointment and that was it, I had ruined everything.  This would be a no brainer for a person who respects your boundaries, they just stop.

Do you know what using guilt or bullying someone into sex is called.  Rape.   I mentioned that several years ago, just out of general conversation.  My ex went ballistic, yelling at me that it wasn't the same thing.  I asked him why that made him so upset.  I didn't get a response.  One would infer that he was fully aware that he used bullying tactics to get what he wanted; he just didn't care or think he was doing anything wrong.  Then there's having sex with you when you passed out drunk, I rarely drink and he always had a way of trying to get me drunk.  He was always pushing alcohol at me.  He wasn't successful most times, I learned over the years to not allow him to pour my drinks.  He would make them increasingly stronger, because I couldn't taste the alcohol, so you think you've only had 4, but it turns out you had closer to 10.  He told my psychiatrist once that liked to get me drunk because I was more sexually pliable.  Why she didn't see this as a huge flag is beyond me.  For the past 25 years I thought I had problems, I've learned that I don't.  As a result, I would like to tweak that earlier definition to:  Narc's use sex as a way to dominate and control their victims.  Not 50 Shades of Grey dominate, that book is BS by the way, I mean monopolize.  Make it all about their wants and needs.

When I type this stuff I can't believe I was married to this person that I stayed for so long.

Asking the Right Questions

I've noticed a somewhat subtle difference between how narcissist and normal people behave and what questions they ask.  Post-sexual encounter, a narcissist will ask how they were or how was it, because they are concerned with their performance.  Heaven forbid you say anything remotely negative and if you do it's best to blame yourself, ie your tired, having difficulties, it wasn't you.  He actually asked me once, "why don't you make any noise during sex?"  At the time I didn't know why.  But that is a criticism aimed at me, if I wasn't screaming his name then obviously I have a problem.  

When I'm with Dave occasionally he will "feel me out" (no pun intended) and ask is everything okay, if he feels it wasn't good for me.  Early in our relationship he would request feedback, but not ten seconds later.  The former was looking for a critique; the latter wanted to make the best possible experience for me.  Wow, someone’s actually concerned about me.  Dave has never asked me to "critique his performance".  He's a bit of perfectionist when it comes to himself, as he sets pretty high standards for his performance at any task.  He doesn't have to be the best, just do the best that he can.  Oh, poor me, what shall I do about that.  I would suggest that one tread cautiously when judging a potential lover's intentions when they are probing you for information (again no pun intended).  Most men are pretty insecure about their performance, the size of their junk, stamina.  The question you need to ask yourself, what does he want?  To impress you or make you happy.   A good lover has one goal, to please you.

Because narcs live in a false world that is about taking they don't know how to give.  They only know how to act like they are.  Do their actions match their words?

Sex is Better When you Like the Person

I thought I loved my husband.  The sad fact is, I didn't, I never really did.  I loved who I thought he was, the person he was sometimes when he was love bombing me.  I've noticed that many women who are in the early stages of discovering narcdom say the same things.  I miss the man he used to be, or I want that man back.  Ladies that man does not exist and is as real as an actor in the movies.  He may look like Han Solo, sound like Han Solo and pilot the Millennium Falcon, but Han Solo is not real.  But I digress, I realize now that the sex was bad because I didn't really like who he was.  Instinctively I knew that he was a monster and I was lying to myself about who and what he really was.  I found myself constantly telling him how wonderful he was, because I thought he needed to hear it, even though sometimes I knew it wasn't true.  He was always playing the poor me card and I fell for it.  Making sure that he's needs were met because he's a friend and family didn't treat him good enough.

Trust and Intimacy is a Game Changer

I was never intimate with my ex husband, we had sex, I required quite a bit of work and foreplay to achieve orgasm and sometimes that didn't even happen.  To make things even more difficult I didn't like to be caressed.  I wanted to, but it made my skin crawl.  In movies or TV a couple gets together, makes out, gets hot and heavy and has great sex.  I used to think who dreams up this BS.  It doesn't work that way.

For myself I discovered the root of true and deep intimacy is trust.  With intimacy and trust came fantastic sex.  Yes, I said fan friggin'tastic sex.  I don't know if this would be the same for everyone.  But it was for me.  I was 46 when I started dating Dave and I had never gotten sexually aroused kissing someone.  I had dated a few men before my ex and a few men after, before I started dating Dave, and this was the absolute first time something like that ever happened to me.  It didn't happen the first time we kissed, more like a couple of weeks later, likely because I was less nervous.  I have to admit the whole, I want to wait six months, plan went out the window.   I had to explore this further, so when the kids where at Grandma's I dragged him into the bedroom (to be fair I did know him for a year, I'm not that easy).  Unfortunately the oldest came home early while I was screaming Dave's name.  Oh, how I wish that story wasn't true.  But I was able to finally answer that question.  I do make noise during sex, lots in fact, sex with my ex husband just wasn't scream worthy.

I Like to Over Analyze Everything

One would think I would just be happy with great sex and not dwell on it, but for those of you who know me.  I dwell.

The question was, why was it so good?  He didn't have any special technique.  It wasn't a new thing, because I had dated jerk face for six months (Hence, the six month rule, which I broke with Dave, I know I have no shame).  But there were other things too, I no longer require the traditional foreplay.  If he snuggles his face in my neck and strokes my arm, I turn to mush, I'm like a puddle.  So if we're cuddled up at night and he's snuggling I tell him "he's either going to have to stop or do something about it."  I think the reason for this is trust.  I am very comfortable with him, I don't worry about him pushing my boundaries and violating the limits that I set.  He doesn't mock me, get frustrated or turn into a baby when I tell him to stop.   He never pushes me for sex.  I have decided and I've told him, I will never have sex with him unless I absolutely want to, I will never fake it.  Sex should never be a chore or an obligation.  I value my relationship with him too much and he knows that I'm always genuine and that I am into him.

There was a time that I could spend days getting up the courage to tell my ex something. Sometimes I opted not to.  Now I just blurt it out, anything.  I've known Dave for just over four years (dated three) and he knows things about me that my ex doesn't (I was with my ex for 25 years).  I would never until my ex anything that could be used to embarrass or humiliate me.  With time I found it easy to tell Dave things.  There's no need to be embarrassed, because there is no judgment or keeping score.

I wish I could tell you some definitive facts or words that could help you determine if a man is a narc or not.  But I can tell you that when you know, you know.  What you do notice is there's a huge change in yourself and you really start to recognize the toxic behavior from your past.

(originally posted by a member of our private social network. Join a community of supportive women today!)

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  • Comment Link blueharvest Sunday, 08 April 2018 19:46 posted by blueharvest

    You have described my sex life with my ex to a "T". We were married for 30 years, and only after our recent divorce did I realize that he suffers from NPD and I am now the survivor of his disorder.

    He pushed for sex right away in our relationship, and was very concerned with his performance. He didn't so much ask me about his performance as he just expected an automatic "OMG that was awesome, you are amazing" reaction every time. Once he even said "you could tell me how amazing that was like my ex-gf used to!"

    He often accused me of being "cold, frigid, uncaring and not capable of showing love". I told him on numerous occasions that if he treated me with respect and love on a consistent basis then trust and great sex would follow. His response was the opposite. He said "great sex is what builds a great relationship, not the other way around." I was dumbfounded by that statement.

    He pushed my boundaries numerous times during sex, and it was horrible. When I would actually tell him "no", he would tell me the reason our sex life is not great is because I would not fully give myself over to him. Jerk.

    So I internalized all of this. I let him make me out to be the unlovable and unloving one. His tagline was "every other woman in America initiates sex with their husband but you! I am the most neglected man ever." He also loved to drink, and then proceed to tell me that "every other woman in America loves it when their husband lasts all night long." My skin crawls right now at the thought of those awful memories and the way he made me believe I was so wrong.

    Unlike you, I have only been divorced 3 mos so havent even begun dating again. But when I do think of my future and loving another man, what I want most is respect and trust, and hopefully a great sex life will follow. :)

  • Comment Link LeeLou Wednesday, 25 January 2017 21:47 posted by LeeLou

    My first reply too! What a great article - thank you. My STBX was very withholding of sex and we only ever had it when he wanted it, eventually I stopped trying to initiate it ever. I know now this was a control/lack of empathy/intimacy issue on his part and he confessed fairly early on in the relationship that he had used prostitutes - during this initial part of our relationship (I wonder now if as a test of what I would tolerate, he didn't have to tell me). Although I don't think he had a very high libido (which is fine, not everyone does) he never ever reciprocated my initiating sex. It was always on his timetable and always felt very mechanical - I hated him kissing me (and previously I had experienced kissing as the sexiest thing ever in other relationships) and, like you, he actually made my skin crawl, although I did crave loving touch - just the reality of his was horrid. Although for a long time I would take any scraps thrown my way (even if I knew the dynamic was not ok), eventually I did become very avoidant of sex and we didn't have sex for the whole last 2 years of our (20 year) marriage. This was aided by him being on medication that impaired his (already pretty ordinary) performance. However, it was still me who was the frigid one of course. I gained 20kg in the last 4 years after being a normal BMI all my life. I'm not even sure why and have already lost 10kg without trying in the last 2 months (I don't think just stress, in so many ways I am relieved to have the MF out of my life - he has been atrocious to me and, worst of all, our children since he left with the OW). I have to wonder if I didn't gain this weight as a way to protect myself from his slimy sexual advances. Right now my focus is my kids and just sorting out the basic practicalities of our lives (unlike his - he left this morning to fly OW half way around the world, business class, to meet his family after being together 2 months (mmmm...) - yes, his mother is an atrocious narc herself! Oh and after refusing to have any kind of holiday with the rest of his family for 3 years - not lost on his kids either! I digress! So easy to do!) However, I know that I would like to have a relationship again at some point in the future - and, you never know, even get to have some enjoyable sex! Your article is so wonderful - it gives me hope that this is possible and, of course, what a healthy sexual relationship looks like. The reason my (introverted/covert) narc left was that his exploitative/entitled/deceptive behaviours had become more and more overt to the point where I really couldn't just walk over/around them anymore. I could no longer ignore what was going on (took me 20 years and if you knew my background/profession I'm pretty sure you'd be surprised) and I started to call him on it, or at least not engage in his gaslighting/blame shifting tactics - this was when he started to feel "so unloved" and could "no longer tolerate it". Thank god for me. Like so many here, I wish he would just F-off and I'd never have to see him again in my life. Sadly I did breed with the fuckwit (my children are by far the most precious thing in the world to me, I just wish I had needed a sperm donor and he had been the anonymous one - a fantasy I have had for many years) so I don't get to go no contact. Just working on detached contact instead (was trying to do "detached compassion" but had this misused, of course - he can't help himself). Sorry, I'm ranting - it is my first post! I love so many of the articles on here but this really resonated. Thank you :)

  • Comment Link Allyoopz Wednesday, 25 January 2017 16:22 posted by Allyoopz

    Thank you so much for this! My ex was the same way, constantly wanting sex and using bullying, sulking, fits of rage toward the whole family, etc... until I caved and gave him what he wanted. Afterward, when he'd gotten his way, he'd be all self-satisfied and charming for a while, then the pushy angry mood would start again. I learned to "put-out" right before we had to go somewhere so he'd be tolerable until we got home. It was like an addiction to him and he'd need another fix after a while. He was obsessed with certain acts he saw during his marathon porn watching sessions and insisted I do those things, even though they hurt me. Now that I'm free of him, the mere thought of sex pretty much weirds me out. I don't know if I'll ever feel good about it again. :(

  • Comment Link E Sunday, 22 January 2017 21:10 posted by E

    I never usually reply to articles but this one I just have to. I can relate to sooooo much of what you wrote. I never felt comfortable sexually with my ex narc husband. He was over well endowed and rammed me on occasion and I could never trust him not to do it again. He would breach my boundaries and almost every time he had sex with MY body he would try to push it up my bottom which I hated. I would wake up to him removing my pj trousers and pants and trying to have sex with me, I'd wake up to him masturbating in my face. He would grope me randomly, rut me like a dog if I was bent down getting a pan from the kitchen cupboard and if I protested I was told I should be grateful he wants sex with me after I've had kids. He'd watch porn on the PC then wander into th roving room, stand infront of me, undo his trousers and poke me in the face till I finished him off, and he'd watch porn in the bath and text me to come up into the bathroom so he could probe at my privates whilst he finished himself off. My punishment for resisting wouldn't be days of the silent treatment. After years of this, I figured I could handle the sex stuff if I switched off and dissociated, I couldn't handle being stone walled. I kicked him out in the end and it was only then I realised I'd been sexually abused. My body gave him beautiful children and he used my body to masturbate himself. Of course, he blamed it all on me. It wasn't abuse, I was a bad person for denying him sex. He just couldn't understand why I didn't approach him for sex. Why the hell would I when I had to do it whether I wanted to or not! The damage this has done has been huge. Reading your article has given me hope that maybe I will find someone who will understand all my bodily triggers and also that my ex hasn't stolen my sexuality. Maybe I hid it somewhere really safe, where he couldn't access it.

  • Comment Link Summertime Friday, 06 January 2017 12:39 posted by Summertime

    WOW. WOW.. Powerful message. so well written. I am so happy for you ... you sound like a wonderfully engaged, sensitive and SMART woman. Thank you for writing this.. I haven't had sex with my STBX in about 5 years and the thought of anything like that makes my skin crawl... he's been so verbally abusive (imbetween being so incredibly nice) that I can't imagine EVER being intimate with him again. or anyone else. It's nice to know that it might happen for me someday.. to get my mojo back!