You suspect that your narcissistic partner is cheating on you.
Or maybe you have proof that your narcissistic ex did cheat on you.
And you are wondering why.
It all comes down to their mindset. The thought process that governs their actions.
This article will explore the reasons why a narcissist might cheat and how they might react when the infidelity is discovered.
But first of all, you may be wondering…
Do All Narcissists Cheat?
Short answer: no, not all narcissists are cheaters.
But Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) does make someone far more likely than the ordinary person to be unfaithful to their partner.
Similarly, you can’t say that all cheaters are narcissists.
People from all sorts of backgrounds and with all types of personality are capable of cheating.
But the reasons why a narcissist may cheat and the way they feel about it does separate them from others.
Why Do Narcissists Cheat?
The tendency of a narcissist to cheat on a partner comes from a combination of factors.
The following is a list of things that contribute.
1. Narcissistic Supply
Narcissists want attention and adoration. This is their drug of choice.
When people look at them, chase them, or want them in any way, it makes them feel good about themselves.
The problem is, they want a lot of attention and the right kind of attention.
And a single relationship does not always give them what they need, especially if that relationship is well established and no longer as exciting as it once was.
And so they look elsewhere for new admirers to provide the highs of attention.
2. A Sense Of Entitlement
A narcissist genuinely believes that they are more deserving of things than other people.
They often have a superiority complex and this makes them feel entitled to take whatever they want from life.
And this includes taking more than one partner or having affairs.
It’s not a question of whether this is morally the right or wrong thing to do because they don’t have to live by the standards of us lowly mortals.
There are different rules for them and these rules justify any emotional and physical infidelity.
3. An Inflated Ego
As we’ve just said, narcissists think a lot of themselves.
They think they are extremely desirable to others.
This gives them a degree of self-confidence around members of their desired sex and they are able to turn this into charm.
This charm creates positive attention which provides the narcissistic supply mentioned above.
And so they are not shy of putting themselves in situations where they end up flirting with a person other than their partner.
Sometimes it just remains as flirting, but just by being in these situations, they have more opportunities to cheat.
4. Poor Impulse Control
There is evidence to suggest a strong relationship between narcissism and impulsivity.
Not all of the time, mind you, because narcissists can also be very calculating.
But in situations where there is an opportunity to secure narcissistic supply and other physical or sexual gratification, a narcissist may find the urge irresistible.
With no regard to the consequences of their actions, they may cheat on a partner repeatedly for no other reason than a lack of self-control.
5. A High Sex Drive
Many narcissists have a strong libido.
Sex is, for them, another source of supply and a chance to prove their worth.
Regardless of how much they or their sexual partner enjoys it, a narcissist uses sex as a way to self-soothe.
It is a strong hit of the drug they need to feel good about themselves.
If they are no longer satisfied with the sex they have with their partner, this hit will not be as strong.
So they will seek out sex elsewhere in order to get what they need.
6. A Power Trip
Narcissists like to feel they have control over others. They get off on the power of convincing people to act however they wish.
Sex or other forms of physical or emotional compliance are pleasing to the narcissist.
And so they see it as a challenge to attract and seduce people. It doesn’t matter to them that they are already in a relationship.
They enjoy the chase and the satisfaction of successfully getting a prospect into bed.
It follows that they will get more pleasure out of controlling more than one partner. And so they may engage in affairs or lead multiple lives with multiple partners.
If they can get away with this, it proves to them that they truly are superior to others. More clever, more attractive, more likeable.
As discussed in this in-depth article on the subject, narcissists don’t see or treat people as human beings.
Other than being sources of attention, people are seen merely objects to use and abuse.
Their feelings don’t matter. Their well-being is of no concern.
A narcissist cares only about themselves.
Cheating on a partner is not really cheating in the eyes of a narcissist. How can one cheat on an object with another object?
8. Lack Of Guilt
The inevitable result of the previous point is that narcissists don’t feel any guilt or remorse for cheating on a partner.
It doesn’t matter if this is someone they have recently entered into a relationship with or a wife or husband of many years or decades.
They aren’t going to be held back from being unfaithful by any feelings toward their partner. They have no conscience to stop them.
And this feeds back into the lack of impulse control discussed earlier.
One thing that helps most people control their urges is a strong dislike of the negative feelings that result from breaking the trust of someone you care about.
But because narcissists feel no such thing, this mechanism to prevent infidelity is absent.
9. They Think They Can Get Away With It
Narcissists are skilled liars and manipulators. They may well cheat simply because they believe they can get away with it.
They don’t believe there will be any major consequences to their actions because they can talk their way out of them.
This isn’t to suggest that consequences would be enough to prevent them from cheating.
But they simply don’t foresee an outcome that would convince them not to cheat.
The Signs A Narcissist Is Cheating
Realizing that a narcissistic partner is cheating on you often comes down to spotting the signs.
These aren’t all that different to those you’d see with any person who is cheating, narcissist or not.
Though there are some things to highlight that related more specifically to narcissists.
1. They Disappear For Long Periods
You may not see them or hear from them for days on end no matter how many times you try to get in touch.
They can disappear off the face of the planet as they spend time with other partners or lovers.
Even if you live with them, they may find ways to be ‘away’ whether for work or a hobby or to see an old friend (one whom they might never have even mentioned to you before).
When you challenge them, they make up elaborate lies and tell you that you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Or they may even start a fight with you in order to create the need for a ‘cooling off’ period. This gives them the perfect excuse to be completely absent for a while.
2. They May Accuse You Of Cheating
To put you off the scent of their own infidelity, they may call you out and suggest that you are cheating on them.
After all, why would you suspect them of being unfaithful if they show a strong contempt for such behavior?
By attacking first, they also put you on the back foot. Even if you do think they are cheating on you, it’s hard to bring up the subject whilst also trying to defend yourself.
If you do, they will just brush any accusations off as your way of deflecting guilt.
This is not to be confused with classic psychological projection which is when a person attributes negative feelings to somebody else.
In the case of a narcissist, they don’t feel any negative feelings when they cheat and so their reasons for accusing you of cheating aren’t an attempt to make themselves feel better.
3. Overt Flirtation On Social Media
Do they often leave comments on the posts and photos of so-called friends that are quite flirtatious or suggestive?
They will claim that this is totally innocent, of course, but you might say that there is no smoke without fire.
Such comments are not enough by themselves to prove they are cheating. But if they are willing to be so brazen about their flirting, it shows that they don’t really care what you say or think.
4. Sex Habits Change
As was discussed above, sex is a means to an end for narcissists. It is a way for them to receive their fix of narcissistic supply.
And so if you find that your partner no longer demands as much sex from you, there is a good chance that they are getting it elsewhere.
Or if the sex comes in bursts, this may indicate that they have either discarded their latest lover or that person is not available for some reason. And so they return to you to meet their needs.
5. They Don’t Let You Near Their Phone (Or Are Too Open With It)
If a narcissist is cheating on you, they are probably arranging everything via messages.
This could be with people they already know, or it could be via various dating or hookup apps.
So, understandably, they won’t let you near their phone and will keep their password from you.
On the other end of the spectrum, they may be so open with their phone and allow you to use it whenever you want.
If this is the case, there is a chance that they have a second, secret phone that they use when you are not around.
Or perhaps they claim to have a work phone that you aren’t allowed to access, only they seem to be on it a lot out of office hours.
6. They Suddenly Become Very Frugal
Narcissists love to splash the cash on new love interests. This happens during the very early stages of a relationship when they love bomb their latest victims in an attempt to win them over.
The result is they have less money to spend on or with you.
Unless you’re married (and even then sometimes), the narcissist will insist on separate bank accounts, so you won’t know what they are spending money on.
But if they are asking you to foot the bills this month or simply not taking you out as much, it might be because they’re diverting funds toward someone else.
Confronting A Cheating Narcissist
Let’s assume that you are fairly confident that your narcissistic partner is cheating on you.
What happens when you confront them about it?
Typically, their first reaction is denial. They will refuse to admit to anything.
If they are cheating, they will simply spin some lie to convince you otherwise.
They will get angry and gaslight you in order to throw you off the scent.
They will refuse to engage on the issue and shut down the conversation any time you raise it.
But what if you have some form of evidence that suggests or shows that they are guilty?
Then they will first try to discredit any information you have. They will claim the source is unreliable, even if that source is you.
You heard wrong. You didn’t see what you think you saw. What you read wasn’t written by them.
If it’s another person who believes they saw or heard something, that person is lying to you. The narcissist will claim that person never liked them and is trying to break you up.
And what happens if you persist with the claim that they have cheated? What if your evidence can’t be denied?
The narcissist will turn things back on you and claim that it’s your behavior that has driven them to cheat.
You have been too nosey. You have not shown them trust. You have treated them poorly. You have let yourself go.
If they cannot wriggle out of things with a lie, they will do the next best thing and make it your fault.
This puts you back on the defensive and takes the focus away from their actions.
So should you even bother confronting them?
Yes and no.
Confronting them certainly won’t feel good and you can expect them to use all of their dirty tricks against you.
But if you require some admission of guilt, for the purpose of a divorce for instance, you might have to do it.
Even if you just want to leave the relationship, having this conversation can begin that process.
Leaving a narcissist is not easy – they won’t make it easy – but if they think you no longer believe their lies and that they cannot manipulate you, they might decide you’re no longer worth the effort.
The alternative is to up and leave and go no contact with them. In the long term, this is an effective way of dealing with a narcissist, but it poses its own problems in the short term.
Whatever approach you take, the narcissist is likely to conduct a smear campaign against you using flying monkeys to spread information that makes you out to be the bad person.
They won’t want others to believe that they are any less perfect than they think they are.
But in the end, cheating or no cheating, you are better off out of that relationship.