In some circles “narcissistic sex addict” has become redundant.  It almost sounds like a double put-down, and yet many sex addicts exhibit narcissistic personality traits. Often they are self-centered, ignore others’ needs and feel they should have special privileges.

Narcissism is on a continuum

At the mild end, there are narcissistic personality traits, the folks who seem a little overly impressed with themselves and who like being the center of attention.   At the extreme end, “narcissistic personality disorder” borders on the sociopathic.  These are the folks who barely know anyone else exists and couldn’t care less.  Somewhere in between are the people with what I call a “narcissistic defense system,” who are using a façade of power and self-importance to cover up deeper feelings of insecurity and low self worth.

Narcissism and sex addiction

A narcissistic defense is a brittle façade which covers feelings of being unlovable and unworthy.  This narcissistic “false self” is so common in sex addicts because they feel so deeply inadequate that they have a long-standing habit of avoiding intimacy.  Instead of getting close and trusting someone, the sex addict is essentially emotionally alone, choosing non-intimate sexual encounters instead.  Many sex addicts become progressively more isolated as their addiction progresses in what is called “relational regression,” even as they present a false picture of their own power and competence to the outside world.

Will Sex Addiction Treatment Cure Narcissism?

To a great extent, yes.  Sex addiction treatment involves a great deal of self-examination with an emphasis on learning honesty, integrity and the capacity to trust both self and others.  The same skills that help the addict recover from addiction are the skills that allow the addict to begin to behave in a more authentic and vulnerable way.  These newly learned abilities go a long way toward eliminating the need to put up a narcissistic defense.  As the sex addict gains an ability to see and accept him/herself more realistically, they will in turn be able to behave in a more trustworthy way and to connect on a deeper level with their fellow human beings.

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24 Comments

  1. It has been said that sex can not be an addiction as its is a biological given. I think that the article here wants to explore is the need for ‘multiple partners’ and the act of non-emotional sex. Intimacy implies a certain acquaintance of one’s partner with privileged information. Yet, it is exactly such partially wholly withheld information that buttress one’s sense of superiority, uniqueness, and mystery which, inevitably, vanish with disclosure and intimacy. Additionally, intimacy is a common and universal pursuit. It does not confer uniqueness on its seeker. When you get to know people intimate, they all seem unique to you. Personality idiosyncrasies surface with intimate acquaintances. Intimacy makes unique beings out all of us. It therefore, negates the self perceived uniqueness of the truly and exclusive unique – the narcissist. Finally, the very process of getting intimate creates (false) sensation of uniqueness. Two people getting to intimately know each other are made unique to each other. These traits of intimacy negates the narcissist’s notion of uniqueness. Intimacy may help distinguish us to our loved ones – but it also make us common and indistinguishable to others. If everybody is distinct, then no one is unique. Widespread acts of behaviors are anathema to uniqueness. Intimacy eliminates information asymmetries, obviates and demystifies. The narcissist does his damnedest to avoid intimacy. Hence multiple partners. A Narcissist is not interested in pleasuring another human being but pleasuring himself only. And most resort to masturbation or pornography to sexual, intimate acts.

    • Hi Eduardo,
      This is a great comment. Do you work in this field? Do you publish writing anywhere?
      Best of luck and thanks!

    • Your a hundred percent rite about everything you said I’m married to a sexual narssicist and I believe the same it’s just for his pleasure and nothing else

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  3. […] success (fame, money adoration) can cause what is known as “acquired situational narcissism.”  Narcissism is a false sense of self worth which can be bolstered and encouraged by massive amounts of positive […]

  4. Praising a narcissist keeps the relationship going until one realises that they themselves never receive any commendation, only criticism, albeit year after year. Nothing their partner does is good enough. One can query and beg a narcissist as to why they don’t want to get close, but they will say ‘with conviction’ that they do show plenty affection (believing their own complete LIE). They are excellent liars. They do view pornography and CANNOT have an intimate or emotional relationship with anyone, especially with their marriage partner. Their reputation is the most important thing in their life and if threatened exposure of their sordid dirty pornographic habits, they become extremely angry and hurtful towards the one that threatened them with exposing them. I thought the man I married was the best thing ever as he seemed ‘perfect’, only to realise a few weeks into the marriage that he was distant and there was no connection between us. When I asked for an explanation, the reply was always that it was me that was the problem. Years into the marriage, I realised he had serious issues. Now I have fully realised he is a complete narcissist. We are attracted to what we are used to – my mother is a narcissist and my father was always distant. We should always question our feelings and NOT RUSH INTO MARRIAGE. I see my husbands distant relationship with our two adorable children and it breaks my heart. I tried to nurture him to have a better relationship with them for ten years now and it will never happen!!! Thank you for the above article.

  5. I just found out that after 39 years of marriage that my husband has been cheating on me since “before” we were married. He has had multiple infidelities – more than I can count on fingers and toes. I knew something wasn’t right when he could not initiate “I love you”. Sometime he’d reply back “me too” and it took 10 years before he would say it and it was always during sex. We have two grown daughters who have elevated him to sainthood over the years. We’ve been in counseling with Christian counselors (I am a Christian), he wasn’t and now has been saved. He was tested for sex addiction and passed – we now know he lied on the test. He has been with multiple women and has even had three in my bed. We are very financially solid, own a successful business and I work full time at my own job. I do not plan to divorce him for the economic reasons, and the hope that he will fully disclose and we can begin to heal. We are separating this week, but he’s only moving to the guest house on our property. We are in intense counseling, but I feel so alone and there are no support groups for spouses of sex addicts in or near my home town. I really have hesitated to post on a Chat site and I hope this site is supportive and not a place where people are part of the problem and not the solution.

    • I just found out my husband of 31 years has cheated multiple times,he has went out of state to stay with relatives so he can get counseling for that and alcoholism. I know you feel alone, I have never felt so alone or shed so many tears,i too a Christian and am giving him time and even call him .

    • 38 year marriage, and your story is very similar to mine, except I went on a 5 month investigation to 3 places we had lived and was overwhelmed at what I found out, hundreds of women and was a swinger, so I filed for divorce. I lost about $500k, but it was well worth it. The money is not worth your sanity nor your dignity. They will never change. My ex-husband is such a narcissistic sociopath, he has created a new life based on lies with a new distorted version of the truth. He is now “saved” and “God has forgiven him, he has forgiven himself, and of course, he has forgiven me for the way I treated him throughout our marriage.” Seriously? I treated the man like a king. He provided “zero” disclosure and left it to me to discover everything on my own, but God has forgiven him? Not likely.

  6. Linda, thank you for this article! I finally broke free of a five-year relationship with a sex addict. For the sake of ease, I wanted to believe he never loved me, but I know that is a lie, so I have been searching studies and articles for insight into sexual addiction. Even though this man is abusive in every way, I have been able to eliminate him being a sociopath based on defining factors, although during his binges he seemed like one. The definition of narcissist did not completely fit, but your definition of ‘narcissistic defense system is spot on! I have known this man and his family since second grade. He comes from generations of abusive, cruel people who have no moral decency concerning sex or love. This is the lowest class family I have known on a personal level, yet they criticize and look down their noses at literally everyone. It is the most bizarre thing to watch! I soon realized it was a defense for their low-self esteem and absence of self-worth.

    Also, I did not completely read the comment by the person, who said ‘sex cannot be an addiction because ir is a biological given’ because that is a completely false statement. I KNOW my ex was a sex addict. I also know I am a food addict, and I know a few other people who are true food addicts, as well, which is also a biological given.

    Anyway, i know the other women just leave him with nothing more than calling him a p.o.s., but my search for truth in the ashes of the most excruciatingly painful has helped me to heal. So, again, thank you for your work in the area of sexuall addiction, your insight, and posting this article.

    Seek and you shall find.

    • Kimberly, everything you commented speaks to me. I too did a full investigatory reading to decipher if my boyfriend was a sociopath or a narcissist, trying to figure out if he really loved me or was I just a filler of extreme void that only fed his ego. I also couldn’t agree with you more in regards to sexual addiction being a true addiction, as there is no doubt that it is real! I’m still trying to sort through whether I should continue with him in this journey of recovery as this is still a recent discovery. He is attending SAA meetings and seeking CSAT counseling. In my many google searches about sexual addiction I have read some success stories, although in this brief comment history I have not. I have had times where I try to break away as I can see the emotional damage it’s causing me but it seems I’m always manipulated into trying to make things work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It would be nice to hear an update on how things are going for you since you broke it off.

  7. Researchers who have studied sex addiction extensively agree that (1) all sex addicts are, indeed, high-spectrum narcissists and (2) that there is no cure. Read the research by Omar Minwalla and Barb Strickland. Anyone who tells you sex addiction is curable is likely trying to sell you an expensive, time-consuming, futile “cure.”

  8. I want to say that after 19 years with a sex addict/intimacy disordered narcissistic selfish man who appeared on the outside to be quiet, kind, and upholding honesty etc that sticking by them even with multiple modes and combinations of therapy was crazy on my part. Started with porn at home, then porn on work computer thru network while traveling and losing his job. To getting a job out of state after 3 years(the also lack good interview, connection, and communication skills) he went right back after inpatient sex addiction treatment. This time as a sugar daddy to multiple very young prostitutes. Traded money, gits, totally out of control. Adultery on this third go round. Spent easily $100K by playing shell games with money and liquidating assets. Now in treatment and I’m left holding the bag, reeling, paying bills and tracing thru credit card statements and accounts for at least 6 years to determine how much of his retirement he spent(pretty close to all, when ailimony is factored in). I’m divorcing him and am grateful I found out. Oh he has Stage IV cancer(Secrets and stress makes one very sick!) That did not stop him, found out last year, slowed him down but he still got back on the sex train fast. NO awakening. I questioned, “why does seem so detached from this very serious illness.”

    If it seems like they are doing something and you see signs, denying doesn’t work. It is there. Deal with it and move on. Leave fear behind. I’m going into somatic, body therapy to purge out all the garbage he thrust in my world over the years. Good luck to you all. Proceed with extreme caution and don’t turn your back on the tiger. I wish I would have left after 1.5 years after we married. Oh, he was an alcoholic drug addict first. We met in treatment and dated for 2.6 years before marrying. I was sober the whole time. Moving from one addiction to others is also a sign, poor decisions with impulse buying with no real money to spend another sign. UGGH! Grateful I found out before he spent it all. Some do. They are such good hiders and liars and seem so steady, honest, and calm. His other life was real life, we were his fake life.

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