Narcissus was a young handsome man who fell in love with his reflection whilst gazing into a pool. In Greek mythology Narcissus was so dam sexy that “legions of lusty men and bevies of girls” wanted him. He was cursed to stay staring at his reflection as a punishment from the avenging goddess Nemesis for rejecting the love of the nymph Echo. Narcissus pined away over his reflection until he died.
Narcissists are incapable of truly loving others because they only want others to reflect and prop up their own image. This isn’t love.
Freud defined narcissism as the channeling of the libido energy towards oneself.
Narcissists are very effective at short term mating but struggle in long term, committed relationships. Emotional intimacy and physical pleasure are essential human needs but narcissists avoid intimacy.
Narcissism is characterised by; superiority, entitlement and grandiosity, little empathy, interpersonally exploiting others, unrealistic positive self view, self focus and lack of care for others.
Narcissists prefer shorter affairs over long term relationships and are less faithful, emotionally intimate and committed. Narcissists are less interested in maintaining current relationships because they think options outside of their relationships are more appealing.
So, what is a sexual narcissist?
Sexual narcissists express general narcissistic traits within the realm of sex and relationships.
Men or women can be sexual narcissists but the research shows they are overwhelmingly men.
Traits of sexual narcissism include;
-Sense of sexual entitlement
-Use words like “power” and “dominance” in the context of sex
-Need to control sexual scenarios.
-Always in control of when and how the couple has sex
-See sex as means to a physical end rather than a way of strengthening an emotional connection
-Show an inability to experience emotional closeness and intimacy in a relationship
-Places sexuality above that of partner
-May have very chauvinistic, traditional ideas about female sexuality and gender roles
-Approach new relationships with bottomless energy and then quickly get bored and sexually unsatisfied.
-Can’t integrate sex and intimacy
-Are especially sensitive to sexual comparisons with others
-Make themselves feel better about themselves by comparing their sexual life with people who might be having less sex or less sexually satisfying lives
-Blame their partners for their sexual dissatisfaction
-Male sexual narcissists are likely to be sexually aggressive, abusive and/or cheat on their partners
-Might be more focussed on their sexual “performance” than your pleasure.
-View partners as “things” that can fulfil their needs like an appliance might rather than as a fully functional human.
A sexual narcissist has an intimacy disorder. They can’t actually give or receive true intimacy in a relationship because of his or her dysfunctional relationship ideas, insecurity, lack of self responsibility or low self esteem.
Underneath all the narcissists bravado or contempt and sneering for others there can be a very fragile sense of self that needs constant validation. Narcissists can be terrified of showing their truly vulnerable selves and use all manner of things to block intimacy.
In my next blog- I’ll explore how I work with couples where one of them is a sexual narcissist.
Cat O Dowd
Sex Therapist Couples Counsellor Art Psychotherapist