A reader describes how her narcissistic boyfriend used physical abuse and sex to undermine her sense of self-worth. She asks whether narcissists are capable of cruelty.
My thanks to Mandy* (not her real name) for allowing me to publish extracts from her emails.
Mandy: It was like the worst roller coaster ride ever.
“I felt the need to write to seek your views on a particular issue I have faced on a number of occasions with my narcissistic boyfriend. I have been with him for nine months and all of the narcissism traits you have described on your blog fit him to a T. Like you I went through hell. He physically abused me, pinched and bit me but never explained why. It was like the worst roller coaster ride ever.
“My friends begged me to leave him but I kept going back. I couldn’t understand why. Before I met him I was very confident but now I am the opposite. I hated myself and loved him like he was some kind of God. He never cared about my emotional needs or the stress and pain he caused me.
“The issue is that on a few occasions whilst we were intimate he abruptly moved away from me when he felt l was about to climax. This affected me greatly the first few times he did this but l did not address it with him at the time. Just recently he did the exact same thing and this time I flipped… l was mad as hell. l really had a go at him and told him that he did it deliberately. He denied doing anything wrong. I told him he knew what he was doing and being an educated man, a dentist, he knew about a woman’s sexual needs.
“So my point is – can narcissists be so cruel? l have been suffering months of hell and finally felt l couldn’t handle it anymore.”
Avalanche: Sex is just one of the ways in which narcissists seek to establish power
I am so sorry that this happened to you, Mandy. Well done for escaping this man and reaching out as part of your recovery. Here is my opinion, based on my own experiences.
What sex means to a narcissist
You ask about why your boyfriend behaved this way in the bedroom. There may be other underlying issues here, but if your boyfriend does indeed have narcissistic personality disorder, it is very likely that he uses sex as a means of achieving his all-consuming desire for control. Like everything a narcissist does, sex is about him and his needs. Your needs do not feature at all.
The behaviour you describe seems typical of this. Some people describe sex with a narcissist as like being part of masturbation. Researchers argue that narcissists see a sexual partner as an object, not a person. Their sexual partner isn’t really there, for the narcissist. There is no connection. There is just a body.
Narcissists are driven by their own needs and desires. Even though they may know how to give pleasure to their sexual partner, the primary motivation is that they have the power to grant or deny it. Sometimes they withhold sex. Sometimes they want intimacy constantly. But always, sex is a tool of control.
This form of power-play is extremely hurtful and damaging to those on the receiving end. It reinforces the belief that narcissists want so desperately to instil in us: that we are dependent upon them for all things – even pleasure – and that they are powerful and we are powerless.
Cruelty and the need for control
You want to know if narcissists are capable of cruelty. My answer is yes, they are. You describe several examples of cruelty that you have experienced at the hands of your boyfriend.
Narcissists are cruel because their world revolves around themselves. They are aware of their cruelty, and – as you say – it is entirely deliberate. This is because their needs and their desire for control come above all other things.
They believe that everyone else in their life should see things the way that they do. That means you are expected to prioritise the narcissist’s needs at the expense of your own.
Your boyfriend never explained his cruelty to you. Narcissists won’t admit to being cruel, because this may encourage you to leave – or try to change his behaviour. This is the last thing that they want, because the narcissist needs you. Like a soul-vampire, he feeds on your love, your energy, and your resources. That’s why living with a narcissist puts our physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing in jeopardy.
You are worth more than the narcissistic abuser wants you to believe. You deserve better than this. I’m glad you are free of the man who treated you in this way.
Be free, be safe, be happy.
Have you been caught-up in a narcissist’s It’s All About Me show? Do you have advice to share with Mandy and others in a similar position? Please share.
ALSO SEE: Information on disengaging from abuse, permanently, in Escaping Abuse.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14