August 19, 2008

Intentional Infidelity

The Frog Prince by Walter Crane, 1874


This is a Link to brief video of Elizabeth and John Edwards discussing the political impact of the Internet. Poor weather prevented Elizabeth from traveling to New York, so an impromptu conference was set up in her home via Skype video. John arrived unexpectedly and joined Elizabeth's conversation with Andrew Rasiej. 

Andrew concludes their dialogue by saying, "The Internet community loves your wife." To which John replies, "Yes, I'm aware of that. I do, too!"

Every now and then, another woman’s story parallels our own to such a degree, we cannot ignore the commonality of a woman’s experience in a sexist world.

And we wake up and we see things we never saw before and we know what we’ve glimpsed is so much larger than ourselves, that we fear our minds will break by acknowledging the truth. We’re chagrined to discover how little we knew about reality. We’re overwhelmed with our inability to change injustice. How do we unravel the strands of a web so tangled, so finely intertwined, that we cannot distinguish the end from the beginning? We're deceptively safe in a cuddling cocoon, oblivious to the dangers of unquestioned assumptions.

Not too long ago, I worked side-by-side with a contractor’s crew, redesigning our home to fit our family’s lifestyle. Every morning at 7:00 a.m., we started our workday together: tearing down walls, redesigning walls, building walls, spackling, painting, varnishing. I sweated with the best of the boys. We worked well together. Though our labor was dusty and exhausting, we managed to create consensus, a complimentary team. It wasn’t easy.

At first, the men were dubious about my hands-on involvement. They were as doubtful of my skills as I was of theirs. (I am a woman of vision, dedicated to quality and precision, to be sure!) After several weeks, our initial doubts were replaced by reliance on one another’s expertise. The dream home was becoming a reality. They were pleased. I was pleased. Everyone was pleased with our success; but most especially, we were pleased with our developing friendship.

If the testosterone got too heavy in the kitchen, I figured a way to work with four men unaccustomed to a woman yielding a measuring tape and a paintbrush. After a few months had passed without wilting on my fainting sofa, the contractor pulled my husband aside and said, “We absolutely love your wife!” My husband embraced me and replied, “Yes, I’m aware of that. I do, too!”

Six months into a two-year remodel, I overheard a shocking telephone conversation. My husband was whispering titillating “love me’s” in his soul mate’s ear. He was on the prowl for a woman who knew her place. And that place was beneath him; not at his side.

Every now and then, another woman’s story parallels our own to such a degree, we cannot ignore the commonality of a woman’s experience in a sexist world.

Sexism is Alive & Well

It's hard to admit I logged-in to the following commentary, but it's pertinent to objectification whether women are labeled as ditzes or criticized as nags. Rush Limbaugh is so tickled with himself that he repeats his words just in case we didn't hear 'im the first time:

"We know---we've been told that Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards. That's part of the puff pieces on them that we've seen. Ergo, if Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards, is it likely that she thinks she knows better than he does what his speeches ought to contain and what kind of things he ought to be doing strategy-wise in the campaign?

"If she is smarter than he is, could it have been her decision to keep going with the campaign? In other words, could it be that she doesn't shut up? Now, that's as far as I'm going to go." 

Later, Limbaugh added: 
"It just seems to me that Edwards might be attracted to a woman whose mouth did something other than talk."

Limbaugh went on to say in a subsequent segment: 
"My theory that I just explained to you about why---you know, what could have John Edwards' motivations been to have the affair with Rielle Hunter, given his wife is smarter than he is and probably nagging him a lot about doing this, and he found somebody that did something with her mouth other than talk."

Link: MediaMatters, August 12, 2008

Infidelity as a Weapon

What does a narcissist do when a woman becomes her own authority? He cuts her down to size. He has numerous tools at his disposal but the most efficient of all is replacing her with another person. No matter how valuable she felt her 'role' to be, he lets her know that it’s no big deal to find another woman eager to fill her shoes. If the narcissist is especially sadistic, he'll choose a woman who will never measure up to his wife’s competence---a woman who will never threaten his superior status as a maN. In other words: The narcissist trades down, not up. He punishes his wife for being whole.

That’s a brutal thing to say, I know. But when we talking about infidelity and narcissists, we not talking about sex with a human being---we’re talking about the subjugation of an object. We’re talking about exploiting women so the narcissist can prove his manliness to other men.

If his wife was criticized for wearing the pants in the family, he'll shame her for his perceived humiliation. A narcissist will find a way, even if it’s self-destructive, to put an uppity woman in her place. Why? Because a narcissist interprets a partner’s equality as a devious attempt to steal the throne from beneath his royal ass.

I think we miss a crucial truth behind a narcissist’s intentional infidelity. Most people make the faulty assumption that infidelity is all about sex. It’s not. When attempts to control the object-of-his-affection fail, he forces compliance by putting her family at risk. He knows she will subjugate herself when the life she has constructed is threatened; she'll weaken immediately when self-trust in her own perceptions is crushed by his betrayal. She’ll be stunned, if not broken, which satisfies his sadism no matter what his tears lead others to assume.

If his wife dared to be his equal, if she received admiration he felt was his, he will punish her. Maybe he’s not as obvious as the batterer leaving bruises, but he'll batter her in ways that are socially acceptable.

People cannot fathom the hatred seething beneath the narcissist’s unconscious envy. Rarely do people define infidelity as abuse for surely a husband could never envy nor disrespect the mother of his children! It’s strange to even think a man would detest his partner’s competence! The narcissist is no fool though; he has studied people’s reactions and knows his intentional infidelity is socially permissible. In fact, ten bucks says the narcissist predicts (and quite accurately, too) that his wife will bear the brunt of social query. If she was too articulate for some people’s tastes, he knows he’ll get away with attacking her self-worth. If she was too confident, too smart, too self-directed, too intimate, or dared to see herself as his equal, she’ll unwittingly pay a price---a price to be exacted not only by the narcissist, but also by society.

Narcissists have affairs when they cannot mature a relationship into a shared partnership. Assuming a woman to be equal to their superior birthright is a demotion in status, at least in the narcissist’s distorted perceptions. Narcissists don’t share anything. Every relationship in life is based on a superior-inferior, win-lose construction.

If his wife is too ‘full’ of herself, he’ll humiliate her and cut her back to size. He’ll discredit her. Call her a nag, a shrew, a woman who talked too much. Degrade her worth by reinforcing her sole purpose in life: serving men. Whether her service means saving face in public, or using her mouth to save his ego in private.



  1. I love what you write and your writing style. Its important to know others have been through these experiences and felt pain, and you share that well.

    I don't doubt that women are subjected to much sexism in life, but I hope people don't forget there are men who go through the same experiences with female narcissists and the story is not so different. It can affect men, and little boys and children greatly.

    But sexism is never fair. Keep up the good work and thanks for educating people!

  2. Hello, 'the stranger'! Thanks for reading and thank you for commenting on this message. Writing about sexism can be tricky if people leap to the false conclusion that criticizing 'the system' means I hate men.

    I think it's crucial to view The System as something both men and women are 'shaped by' and also 'creators of'. So when I speak about sexism, I'm trying to describe how oblivious we are to a Way of Thinking that leads to dysfunctional (and limited) relationships.

    More women write about male narcissists than the reverse. From what I've read about this gender difference, it appears women are more comfortable being self-revelatory. This might lead people to assume that narcissists are exclusively male, which isn't the case.

    I'd love to see more men writing about female narcissists.

    But what I do hope is that men, who have been in relationships with female narcissists, also see themselves in my essays. When it comes to Intentional Infidelity, female narcissists are just as malicious as men.

    ***One difference we might note is that an infidel woman deals with more social rejection than an infidel man. That might restrain her behavior somewhat; but, I’m guessing that any man who has been cuckolded feels the same way as myself.

    Infidelity is not a ‘victimless crime’ as people would like to believe. I think it's important for people like ourselves to speak up and tell the truth about our experience.



  3. A W E S O M E ! _ CZBZ

  4. Thanks for clarifying, CZ, it does make me feel better. I don't see you as a man-hater or male basher at all. Just about everything I've learned about narcissism I've learned from women, and it does echo my experiences completely and I get just as much from it as everybody else. Its not hard for me to identify with what you write about.

    I'd agree that an infidel woman is looked down upon more than a male doing the same thing. The N I dealt with though, was able to manipulate the people around her into thinking it was acceptable. Its acceptable to look for a replacement for your husband or partner if you lead them to believe he's horribly abusive. People might even encourage that behavior to help get you out of bad situation. Aren't N's crafty? But now that I think about it, narcissistic behavior does seem much more acceptable coming from a male than a female.

    But! Its a great blog post and I don't want to debate or take away from what its about. I think its great what you are doing here.

  5. CZBZ, wow, all these things have been on my mind lately. Thank you, I love your site. Be proud, Lady, be very proud.

  6. Very interesting, I hadn't seen that side of what I have gone through. My ex-husband, who was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as NPD, cheated on me at a time when he was having significant problems at work. I believe he wanted to create a diversion from his job difficulties and destroy his marriage so he could blame his subsequent job/career loss on the divorce. Which is what he did, but he doesn't like that he has no credibility as he lost his job, but I have done very well in mine and I have succeeded as a single mother better without him and he has failed miserably without me.

    I now see through your article that he was also cheating in order to destroy my self-esteem and keep me weak and afraid to leave and he hoped to KEEP me through his job loss so that he could rely on me and my income!

    However, he subsequently married a woman WAY "lower" than I (and I only mean this in the sense that I am well-educated and successful whereas new wife is a former stripper and has other "issues" - including three prior husbands at the age of 27). Again, I now realize this is an attack on me and what I represent, which is respectable womanhood. I get it and it doesn't bother me in any real sense, but it is painful if I let myself think about it.

    Mostly, I just want NC so that I don't have to interact with his vile self (he enjoys being nasty and evil to me now that we are divorced more than he enjoyed pretending to be nice to me when I was his wife), but having young children makes this impossible. Any thoughts on what would make him get less pleasure out of hassling me???

  7. Love the Limbaugh insight. It has always amazed me at how men could justify an affair by a full-frontal assault on the wife: nag, b!tch, lazy, whatever insults he can come up with from minor problems from the past or from his *perceptions* at the moment. In fact, my ex told me he was cheating because it was my fault! Literally. It darn near knocked me over to hear those words. My ex loved Limbaugh, and I can see why. I heard so much of the same attitude out of my ex, words that at the time took the wind out of my sails. Now, looking back and reading and learning so much, I am happy my ex is no longer a part of my life. The crazy-making behavior is something else when you really live with it. A narcissist is quite talented at coming up with reasoning and methods to make themselves look like the victim.

    Still, it never fails to amaze me to see the same stories played out over and over again, just different characters using different words. Same attitudes. I think what Limbaugh said about Elizabeth Edwards was shameful.

    Thanks for the insight. I'm sure I'll be back to read more.

  8. I am a man that has recently been dumped by a woman who has NPD,and I thought I would share my thoughts, story and hope others can heal, forgive, and get back the part of their soul that was damaged by their N partner. I met this woman, and she totally blew me away and met all the things I was seeking. After being single a few years, I had a mental "checklist" of things I wanted, sought in a mate, as most of us do. She was on the surface accomodating, well spoken, very financially sucessful, immaculately dressed, etc. I fell hard for her. I have never had trouble meeting or dating women, as I have been a fitness model and have done well in business. As I got closer to this woman and showed intimacy, she totally shut me out, never returned my calls, and throught a text message said were done, never call me again! I was stunned, broken, and had no closure, but respected her wishes.
    After initially meeting her, I am open and communicative, and we shared things about our past, ( me doing the sharing, and her not really wanting to) she told me of childhood sexual, mental and physical abuse. I would just like to say that I have difficulty when I read here, or elsewhere on the net, etc of the "vampires", and other negative labels put on narcissists. I have begun my healing, although the hrut is like no other i have ever felt. I see this woman as a young girl, who was abused, and being a caring, empathetic soul, I picture her on her bed, crying, sad, in her room after being abused. We are all born innocent children, and I ache and hurt for HER, not me now. To know that I must walk a away from someone that NEEDS help, love, and "fixing" is hard as a loving human. We will eventually heal, with some scars, but to know this woman, who isstill that helpless, innocent child, will walk a lonely path, lonelier as time passes, ABSOLUTELY KILLS ME!I am in tears as I tyoe this, I say a prayer for her each night. I know that her disorder has shunned her from loving me, and others, so please find it in your hearts to see the "vampire" as a helpess child,that suffered from early in life, and find forgiveness in your heart.

  9. I am totally open to opinion - I have been married to my husband of 1.5 years who had a work breakdown 2 years ago...I experienced something similar 4 years prior so thought I had a real support opportunity for this extremelys successful executive....he still isn't working, turned to alcohol daily, ignores my attempts at budgeting and dealing with daily issues, and is constantly blaming everyone else, and after supporting him for 2 years financially, found out that for the past 4 months, he's been online looking for "afternoon delights"...didn't want to leave me apparently, but I left him....he said it didn't mean anything and he never would have 'hooked up' this just ego or narcissim...he gave me a family of his older children and their grandkids...and now we are slowly tearing I trust him when he says 'all he needs is a job and it will be ok'....??

  10. Song Title: What did I do
    Subject: R& B song about infidelity. The lyrics also address the new tinsel town bogus "sex addict" cop-out. Video is the lyric sheet synchronized to the audio recording.
    Video URL:

  11. Infidelity is seen as a victimless crime? That is news to me! It may or may not be a criminal offense, depending on where you live, but how can anyone call it victimless? Don't the wife and children count?

    What people of Limbaugh's ilk fail to get is that marriage is a legal contract and the person having an affair has broken the contract.

    These same people get all worked up when contracts are broken in the world of business and government, warning us of the "slippery slope of moral hazard" and how sacred contract law is in civilized society etc. etc.

    Pity Limbaugh hasn't found a better way to use his mouth.

  12. "Pity Limbaugh hasn't found a better way to use HIS mouth!"

    hahaha...If he has found another way to use his mouth, I sure don't wanna hear about it.


  13. "I don't doubt that women are subjected to much sexism in life, but I hope people don't forget there are men who go through the same experiences with female narcissists and the story is not so different. It can affect men, and little boys and children greatly. "

    Source? I know a female narcissist who was married to an ex soldier. After they had a big fight he left for Australia to meet some woman he met overseas (which happened while they were still together). To be fair she has cheated on boyfriends before him. They weren't so much sordid affairs as they were just one night stands and I'm not even sure that most of those guys ever found out.

    I'm not suggesting that all men are terrible or something like that. But if women suffer more from male narcissists then we need to accept that as long as it is the truth. If you're just saying that men suffer the same, then you'll need evidence.

    I can accept the fact that over 90% of criminals are men without hating men. I've been partnered for the last 6 years to the same man.

    1. Very interesting comment, anon. When I write about sexism, someone usually reminds me that "men suffer, too". I understand people feeling sensitive to the view of narcissism as a predominately male character trait; we've only recently been talking about female narcissists and the damage they can do to a partner, a family, an organization.

      A female narcissist can be ruthless. However, her aggression is not sanctioned by society like male narcissists, so there's that. Her "infidelity" is less acceptable, too although I'm sure that's no recompense to a man who's been betrayed. A distinction comes to mind here:

      When a man betrays his partner, the general assumption is that something is wrong with "her" because she could not keep her partner satisfied (sex may have nothing to do with infidelity but that's another essay).

      When a woman betrays her partner, the general assumption is that something is wrong with "her."


      This is my impression having witnessed people's reactions to infidelity. And of course, being subjected to insults when my partner betrayed me. Nothing brings sexism home quite like being replaced by another woman and nobody gives his behavior another thought. "Men will be men" and all that misogynistic bullshite.

      But your question is intriguing and brings me to a new level of thought about the damage a male narcissist does to women's lives (and often without censure!). I hadn't considered there might be a distinction of difference.



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