The traits that characterize NPD and other personality disorders tend to remain pretty constant over time.
These traits also show up in multiple areas of life. So, someone with characteristics of NPD won’t just show narcissistic behaviors at work or around family and friends. You’ll eventually begin to recognize the signs in most of their interactions.
In a romantic or sexual relationship, key traits that characterize NPD can absolutely extend to all domains of your relationship, including the bedroom.
That said, you may not always notice specific behaviors right away, especially when your partner makes a dedicated effort to present a different side of themselves.
When a sexual partner exhibits symptoms of NPD, you might notice some of the following.
Sure, sex can be a lot of fun. Purely physical, no-strings-attached sex can be perfectly satisfying — as long as that’s what you and your partner both want.
In a relationship, sex (plus post-coital cuddling and pillow talk) also helps you connect with your partner on an intimate level. It doesn’t just feel good, it also promotes bonding and increased closeness.
But partners with symptoms of NPD may have little or no interest in building intimacy once they’ve accomplished their goal of sexual gratification.
If you try to talk about your feelings or the relationship, they might offer some token participation but seem bored or disinterested and quickly change the subject to how they feel.
People who display narcissistic behaviors generally have a high opinion of themselves. They may consider themselves special, uniquely gifted, and more important than anyone else.
In bed, this can sometimes translate to putting their own pleasure first. They may want you to satisfy theirneeds, and if yours don’t get met, well, that’s not really their concern.
That said, self-importance can also mean that they could want to satisfy you so you can praise their skills and tell them how considerate they are as a partner.
So, instead of sharing how much fun you had together, they might want you to describe, in great detail, just how great they are at sex and how much you enjoyed the encounter.
They might look for this validation and approval every time you have sex. When you don’t offer the admiration they’re hoping for, they might press you for further compliments or even get angry.
Let’s say you mention something you didn’t like or you suggest something to try in the future.
“I don’t love it when you bite my neck.” “Please don’t hold my head when I’m going down on you.” “I think it would be really fun to try sex standing up.”
It’s absolutely valid to express your own needs and preferences. Yet even when you do so respectfully, comments like these might challenge their perception of themselves as the “best” partner.
So, they might respond by dismissing your request, pointing out “flaws” in your appearance or performance, or making unkind remarks.
“You always seemed to like it before.”“I only try to keep your head still because you’re not very good at that. I’d never finish otherwise.” “What would you know? It’s not like you’re that exciting in bed.”
Narcissism is often characterized by a sense of entitlement, so a partner with symptoms of NPD might assume you’ll jump at the chance to have sex whenever they’re in the mood.
After all, they might reason, shouldn’t the chance to have sex with someone so attractive and talented delight you?
When you don’t want to have sex, they might:
try to make you feel guilty by saying you don’t care about themaccuse you of cheatingcall you names compare your performance to past partnersthreaten to leave you or have sex with someone else
You may not automatically recognize these behaviors as abuse. You might even start to wonder whether not wanting to have sex makes you a bad partner and you really are the one at fault.
These manipulation tactics fall under the umbrella of sexual coercion, however. You can consider them calculated attempts to make you feel bad and give in to what they want.
No one deserves sex.
A partner might feel a little disappointed when they want to have sex and you don’t. But in a healthy relationship, they’ll respect your decision and your boundaries, and they won’t pressure you to change your mind.
Narcissism typically involves a lack of empathy.
Low empathy doesn’t make someone completely incapable of understanding other people’s feelings.
But it does mean they may not spend much time thinking about the impact of their behavior. They might even seem unaware that other people even have feelings.
If your partner displays symptoms of NPD, you might get the impression that as long as they get what they want, nothing else matters.
Maybe they have a very detailed and specific outline of how your encounters should play out. They tell you what they want to do, in what position, and what you should wear to bed and say during sex. They don’t ask your opinion or consider that you might want to try something else.
This can leave you feeling more like an object than a partner.