Do Narcissists’ Affairs Last? What You Need to Know

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If you are the spouse of a narcissist or the person with whom a narcissist is cheating, you may be interested to know whether or not their affairs last. You might want to know because you’re hoping you can weather this storm or you want them to leave their spouse and pick you over them. The truth about what is likely to happen in either case is not something that will be very satisfying. 

Narcissists’ affairs last as long as they are getting what they need from everyone involved. Narcissists always do what serves them the most, and when something or someone stops being useful, that’s when they implement the discard. The narcissist will not consider your needs in this equation.

Narcissists will never show remorse for anything they’ve done, and they only do what suits their need for narcissistic supply. Manipulating and controlling romantic partners makes them feel powerful. It’s essential to understand why this is to really grasp how a narcissist views an affair and the relationship they have with their spouse. Read on to get more of this critical information. 

Will a Narcissist Continue an Affair for a Long Time?

Will a Narcissist Continue an Affair for a Long Time

Narcissists have a poorly developed sense of self. They have created a false self-image and infused it with grandiose ideas of omnipotence and superiority. The problem is they need other people to prop up those grandiose ideas. 

That’s a big reason why a narcissist begins an affair. It gives them a sense of superiority to be desired by another person who is not their spouse. It also gives them a sense of power by being able to manipulate and control their spouse. 

The longer they can keep their spouse in the dark, the more powerful they feel. They also want to keep the person with whom they’re having the affair on the hook in case the spouse finds out and leaves them. They don’t want to lose the rich supply of adoration that a spouse brings them. 

Their paramour is little more than a backup source of narcissistic supply, someone who can step in at a moment’s notice. This entire situation is complicated by the fact that narcissists also fear abandonment. It’s not their primary concern, but they don’t want anyone walking away from them. 

That’s why they do everything in their power to keep the spouse from finding out, and it’s why they don’t just leave their spouse. They want to keep everyone playing their game. 

If either the spouse or the infidelity partner stop serving the narcissist’s needs, only then will the narcissist discard them. As long as the narcissist is getting feeling powerful and getting their self-esteem propped up by these two sources of narcissistic supply, they will keep going. 

If they do leave their spouse, their new partner will become the object of their attention. Unfortunately, they will most likely suffer the same fate as the spouse did at some point in time.

Do Narcissists Even Love Their Spouses?

Do Narcissists Even Love Their Spouses

This is a complicated question. Of course, narcissists are human and have emotions, but their personality disorder clouds and distorts their genuine emotions. Even if they do care for them, they will always put their own needs first. 

That’s true, as well, for the paramour. They might have some genuine feelings somewhere for this person, but they fear intimacy and hate feeling vulnerable. That’s why they avoid acknowledging or showing their real feelings. 

To express genuine love for someone is to be vulnerable, and the narcissist learned long ago that being vulnerable is a dangerous thing. They were usually abused, either emotionally or physically, in their own childhood, and this is what prompted the development of their narcissism. 

They’ve buried their true self, and with it, any expression of true emotion. That’s why neither the spouse nor the paramour can be certain they are getting an expression of true feelings from the narcissist. 

This is also why the narcissist will never show remorse or take responsibility for what they have done. They will blame either the paramour or the spouse if they are discovered. They will never acknowledge their own role in what happened. 

What are the Signs You Might be Dating a Cheating Narcissist?

What are the Signs You Might be Dating a Cheating Narcissist

Narcissists often try to hide their marriage from their paramours, and it can come as a total surprise that you’re dating a cheating narcissist. There are, however, usually signs that suggest this is the case. Here are several things to look for that indicate you’re involved with a narcissist who is cheating on their spouse. 

They Grandstand About How They Would Never be Unfaithful

It’s a red flag if the person you’re dating starts grandstanding early in the relationship about how they would never cheat on a romantic partner. This is a kind of gaslighting to make you question any doubts you might have. 

It’s also a way to distract you from even questioning their honesty. They frequently also are extremely jealous of you because they are projecting their bad behavior onto you. It’s another way to distract you, too. 

They Never Take You to Their Home

Early on in a relationship, it’s not necessarily odd to meet in public places, and if you’re a woman, it’s quite normal for a man to pick you up at your house. After a while, however, if your date never wants to take you to their home, it’s suspicious. 

A good strategy is to ask to see their house. You’ll often get an agreement to go there, but when the time comes, they have some kind of convenient excuse as to why you can’t go. The truth is they don’t want to take you there because you’ll undoubtedly discover the truth. 

They Disappear for Days

This is due to the fact that they have family obligations. If they are doing something with their family, they may text you while they’re gone, but they are not likely to call you. They can’t risk their spouse overhearing their phone conversation. 

Of course, they may tell you they’re on a work trip or visiting a relative, but these disappearing acts will happen frequently. If you try to call them, your calls will go unanswered, and they may even turn their phone off. 

You Never Meet Their Friends

Their close friends will know their spouse, so the narcissist may be reticent to introduce you to them. While part of them wants their friends to know about you because it makes them look superior in their own mind, they won’t want to risk that one of those friends might tell their spouse. 

They will surely be telling some of their friends about you to get their admiration, but they still won’t want to introduce you to them. 

Will the Narcissist Ever Leave Their Spouse for You?

Will the Narcissist Ever Leave Their Spouse for You

The simple truth is that they might leave their spouse, but it won’t be because they have decided they really love you better. As clinical psychotherapist Karen Arluck points out, “In the moment they find ways to rationalize their cheating, but anytime their side relationship goes south or they feel rejected or annoyed by someone new, they often seek the validation of their spouse and crave the more predictable behavior they get at home.” 

That tends to keep them with their spouse, but if they do leave them, it is usually because their spouse has stopped being useful to them, and they’ve discarded them. That doesn’t mean things will now go great for you though. 

Even if they do leave them, it’s not necessarily forever. It often happens that a narcissist leaves their spouse for their paramour, and then when the paramour stops being useful, they cycle back to the spouse. 

This is part of why the discard from a narcissist is often abrupt and without explanation. They want to keep you holding on even if it’s just because you don’t understand what happened. If they can keep a spouse or lover trying to get an explanation from them, it offers them an opportunity to return at some point. 

If for some reason, the narcissist did leave their spouse and marry you, it’s also true that they will likely begin cheating on you. No matter what they may truly feel for you somewhere down deep inside, their personality disorder will keep them from fully committing to any relationship. They’re too fearful for that. 

Final Thoughts

While narcissists’ affairs may last for a long period of time, they usually lack true depth. Even if they do eventually leave their spouse for their lover, they will simply start cheating on the lover. In fact, they often have several paramours at once. It’s the nature of their personality disorder that they need so much adoration to prop up their own self-esteem, and they will do almost anything to get it. 

If you’re involved with a narcissist, either as their spouse or their lover, you need to read this article about whether they will ever admit to cheating or not. It has information you absolutely need to know if you’re romantically involved with a narcissist. 


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Narcissistic abuse takes a terrible toll on your life. I’m Patricia, and my mother is a narcissist, so I know what you’re going through. These blog posts will help you understand narcissism better and give you tips for dealing with the narcissists in your life. Healing starts here!

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