Why YOU Stay, Narcissist Cheats, Both Triangulate?

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Pathological demand avoidance in the bargaining phase of the shared fantasy explains why narcissists cheat (commit adultery, infidelity, have extramarital affairs).

Some spouses elect to have extramarital affairs, deceive their partners, and remain in a marriage devoid of love, intimacy, or, often, sex. Why would any person in his right mind make such a self-defeating and demoralizing choice? Why not abandon ship altogether? Why eat the stale and putrid cake and still have it?

In order of frequency and import:

1. Money: the most recurring and crucial reason. Financial security and prosperity trump all other considerations. Driven by fear, insecurities, and sheer avarice, people sacrifice their individuality, identity, morality, values, their children's mental or physical health as well as their own, and their happiness.

2. Pity, compassion, and care for the partner. This is especially common in couples where one of the partners is parentified. Divorce feels like abandoning a helpless, hurting child.

3. Shared memories and common history. The attachment and bonding are displaced into a counterfactual and fantastic sentimental form of nostalgia. It renders the couple "sticky".

4. The children's interests and welfare come last and are rarely a truly decisive part of the calculus of pros and cons. Parents deceive themselves into believing that their kids are the reasons they are not divorcing when the true, profound motives are the above.

5. Cultural and social mores. In some societies and cultures, divorce is still frowned upon and stigmatized. It also carries inordinate costs (such as losing access to the children and the share in the community property).

6. Peer and family pressures and expectations, including the influence of pastors, therapists, judges, and friends who advocate against the dissolution of the dyad.

7. "Knowing that divorcing a person of this type is sometimes harder than managing to tolerate living with them." (comment on Instagram)

Narcissists cheat on their spouses, commit adultery and have extramarital affairs and liaisons for a variety of reasons which reflect disparate psychodynamic processes:

1. In the quest for narcissistic supply, the somatic narcissist resorts to serial sexual conquests.

2. Narcissists are easily bored (they have a low boredom threshold) and they have a low tolerance for boredom. Sexual dalliances alleviate this nagging and frustrating ennui. The quest for novelty, diversions, and thrills – a vacation from his own life - is combined with a journey of self-exploration and discovery that involves “filling in the gaps” in the narcissist’s biography: a missed adolescence, an old flame, a new aspect of his personality.

3. Narcissists maintain an island and focus of stability in their life, but all the other dimensions of their existence are chaotic, unstable, and unpredictable. This "twister" formation serves many emotional needs which I expound upon elsewhere. Thus, a narcissist may be a model employee and pursue a career path over decades even as he cheats on his wife and fritters their savings away.

4. Narcissists feel superior and important and so entitled to be above the law and to engage in behaviors that are frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable in others. They reject and vehemently resent all limitations and conditions placed upon them by their partners. They act on their impulses and desires unencumbered by social conventions and strictures.

5. Marriage, monogamy, and child-bearing and rearing are common activities that characterize the average person. The narcissist feels robbed of his uniqueness by these pursuits and coerced into the relationship and into roles - such as a husband and a father - that reduce him to the lowest of common denominators. This narcissistic injury leads him to rebel and reassert his superiority and specialness by maintaining extramarital affairs.

6. Narcissists are control freaks. Having a relationship implies a give-and-take and a train of compromises which the narcissist acutely interprets to mean a loss of control over his life. To reassert control, the narcissist initiates other relationships in which he dictates the terms of engagement (love affairs).

7. Narcissists are terrified of intimacy. Their behavior is best characterized as an approach-avoidance repetition compulsion. Adultery is an excellent tool in the attempt to retard intimacy and resort to a less threatening mode of interaction.

Narcissists typically claim that they have cheated in order to “put the spark back into the relationship (with the spouse or primary intimate partner.)”

There are 2 types of triangulation (using a third party to manage the emotional, intimacy, and transactional aspects of a relationship): breakup and restorative.

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