Welcome to My Dysfunctional Family

As we start the new year, I was reflecting on my goals for 2019, and that got me thinking about how much can happen in a year. A few years ago, my husband and I started a tradition of writing down Happy Thoughts throughout the year and stuffing them into a jar, then we read them to each other during the first few days of the new year. We’ve been doing that this week, and I’m realizing how much I have to be grateful for, and I don’t want to take anything for granted.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family, so it astonishes me that it took me as long as it did to recognize it when I found myself entrapped in it in my adult life. What’s more puzzling is that, even after my own experience, I didn’t see my best friend’s (now my husband) Stockholm Syndrome for what it was. In my defense, I was still licking my wounds and trying to make sense of what I had been through. I was also blinded by optimism and a renewed sense of hope.

So many people feel obligated to maintain unhealthy relationships because of a little shared DNA, and I’ll never completely understand that. I left my abuser, and I had no trouble disengaging from my narcissistic father. (I came to see both of them for what they were at roughly the same time.) DNA? That’s superficial. Toxic is toxic, and I refuse to feel obligated to enable a narcissist or to unduly stress myself out.

As of this writing, I haven’t spoken to my father in almost ten years (same for the narcopath I lived with; it was a clean break, no further communication), and it hasn’t been difficult at all. My husband went no-contact with his narcissistic mother a few years ago, and he doesn’t miss her either. I realize not everyone has an epiphany moment, or their toxic relative (or lover) does something so unforgivable to them, that trying to salvage the relationship is no longer an option, but I want to tell you that not having to deal with toxicity in your personal life on a regular basis is a much more peaceful way to exist.

Whether it’s a lover, a parent, sibling, or even a child, no one should have to endure emotional, psychological, or physical abuse out of a sense of duty or obligation. It may be difficult, but you can remove the negativity from your life. You are good enough, and your needs are just as important as anyone else’s. You can have hope and aspirations. You can live up to your full potential.

5 Reasons Narcissists Use Sex

Smoke and Mirrors

It’s quite common for men and women who’ve been romantically involved with narcissists, psychopaths, and other personality disordered individuals to recall the sex as being phenomenal or even the best they’ve ever had. Once that’s set in your mind, it can be difficult to heal from the emotional abuse inflicted by these incessant manipulators. Worse, if you miss going to bed with your ex, you’ll be especially vulnerable to any potential Hoover attempts from him or her. You also run the risk of ruining future relationships with healthy, sane partners if you compare all future partners to your malicious ex-narcissist.

Often, once a narcissist is sure that you are fully invested in them and the relationship, sexual intercourse tapers off. In some cases, they even take it off the table completely. They will use sex as a tool to obtain something from you, to get you to do something they want. Prior to giving it up, they will usually act as if being intimate with you is a chore. The mask has slipped, and you’ve glimpsed the darkness it hides. The kind, adoring, wonderful, too-good-to-be-true persona you fell for was never real, and neither was the sexual creature you thought them to be. To the disordered, sex is transactional in nature. The enthusiastic, acrobatic, anything-goes romps were as much a tool to get you hooked and reel you in as their loving words and adulation were.

What Does Sex Mean to a Manipulator?

1. Control

It makes them feel powerful to have control over you. They manipulate your emotions, making you believe that they love and adore you. In reality, they are incapable of such human emotions. They mirror you in so many ways, creating the illusion that you have the same hobbies, taste in music and films, political views, etc., and sex is no different. They adeptly pick up on what makes you feel good, and they capitalize on that to spellbind you. You feel like you’re with the perfect partner, but you are merely there for their amusement.
They sometimes withhold sex intentionally, as a punishment, maybe simultaneously giving you the silent treatment, until you can’t stand it anymore and apologize for whatever they’ve accused you of, give in to a demand they’ve made, or whatever the case may be. Manipulating your emotions makes them feel powerful, and it’s a turn-on for them. However, it’s not always capitulation they’re trying to elicit from you; sometimes they’ll intentionally make you angry because pushing your buttons also makes them feel like they have control over you.

2. Material Gain

Generally, we think of female personality disorders playing this card, but disordered men do it too. Maybe they’re seeking out a place to stay, food, money, a car to drive, or something else that you are able to provide them with, so they flirt and stroke your ego, and the next thing you know they are sharing your bed. Then they start in with the down-on-my-luck story, and you, of course, want to help, so you move them into your apartment, cook for them, loan them your car, or whatever else it is they seem to be in need of. Those generous souls who consider themselves “rescuers” are especially susceptible to this particular manipulation tactic.

3. Relief from Boredom

Narcissists and psychopaths easily become bored. They like to play with people the way children play with dolls or action figures. They’ll most likely butter you up first (see #1, above), especially if you’re in the beginning (idealization) stage of the relationship.

Relieving boredom may include sexual intercourse itself; maybe they were feeling the urge, and you just happened to be around. Afterward, you’ll either be cruelly discarded or used to meet other needs. In addition to becoming bored on a regular basis, the personality disordered have trouble regulating their emotions and frequently behave impulsively, lash out, or self-medicate, in order to suppress their discomfort; sex can serve as a distraction from feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, or general emotional upset.

4. Narcissistic Supply

If they are doting on you and flattering you to no end, you can bet you’re giving it right back to them. They need to feel special; they want you to put them on a pedestal. In the beginning of the relationship, you do this without even thinking about it, and later on you are hyper-vigilant to their moods and know exactly what they want to hear you say.

They are typically promiscuous in nature, and have many sexual partners; having many suitors makes them feel wanted. It makes them feel special. They also quickly become disenchanted with a victim and move on to a new target for fresh supply. So, if you were having intense, frequent romps with your narc in the beginning, but things rapidly cooled off, this may be what happened.

Social status also motivates certain types of narcissists. Maybe you’re someone who happens to be incredibly physically attractive, extremely wealthy, or hold a position of power at your place of employment. Or any combination thereof. You are a conquest. They want to be seen with you. They want to exploit you. To do so, they craftily elicit an emotional attachment from you in order to keep you under their thumb.

5. Triangulation

It’s quite common for narcissists and other personality disordered individuals to use one mate to make another target jealous. As stated above, having many partners to choose from also makes them feel that they are in high demand. To paint this vision for others, they will shamelessly flirt, sometimes dangling the promise of sex as a lure, in order to keep many admiring would-be suitors interested; this makes the narc appear to be ultra desirable to whoever he or she is targeting.

Don’t Get Caught in the Trap

The intensity of sexual interludes with psychopaths is often mistaken for intimacy. Don’t get confused by whatever emotional connections you are feeling during these capers, the narcopath is incapable of having the same feelings for you. Love, deep connection with another human being, a sense of caring for someone else; they can only fake these emotions. They can make you feel like you are the center of their universe, but the other shoe will eventually drop. You can have better relations with a genuinely loving partner; you can develop an emotional connection with a non-disordered person that will only enhance your love-making. But first, you have to get out of the abusive relationship and begin the healing process.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and personalized advice from a licensed therapist.