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5 Psychological Reasons Why Narcissists Cheat in Relationships

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Narcissism, a term derived from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection, is more than just vanity or self-absorption. It’s a complex personality disorder that can manifest in various ways, one of which is infidelity. But why do narcissists cheat in relationships? 

1. The need for constant validation

At the heart of narcissism is a deep-seated need for validation. Narcissists thrive on admiration and the attention of others. In a relationship, this translates to a constant need for affirmation of their worth and attractiveness. When the novelty of a new relationship wears off, and the initial adoration fades, a narcissist might seek out new sources of validation. Cheating becomes an avenue to gain this affirmation, even if it’s fleeting or superficial.

2. A sense of entitlement

Narcissists often believe they are special and therefore entitled to more than others. This sense of entitlement can extend to relationships, where they feel they deserve multiple partners or experiences. They might justify their infidelity by thinking they’re too unique to be tied down to one person or that they deserve the excitement of multiple romantic pursuits.

3. Lack of empathy

One of the hallmark traits of narcissism is a lack of empathy. This means they struggle to understand or care about the feelings and needs of others. In the context of a relationship, this can lead to a disregard for the pain and betrayal their partner might feel upon discovering their infidelity. For the narcissist, their own desires and needs often overshadow any potential harm they might cause to others.

4. The thrill of the chase

For many narcissists, the thrill of pursuing someone new is intoxicating. The chase, the conquest, and the validation that comes with winning someone over can be addictive. This isn’t just about physical attraction; it’s about the power and control they feel when they can make someone desire them. Once the chase is over, and the newness of the relationship fades, they might move on to the next conquest, leaving a trail of broken hearts in their wake.

5. Avoiding vulnerability

Deep down, many narcissists harbour feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. To avoid confronting these feelings, they might engage in behaviours that keep them at an emotional distance from their partners. Cheating can be a way to avoid intimacy and vulnerability. By keeping multiple relationships at a superficial level, they can avoid the deep emotional connection that might force them to confront their own insecurities.


Understanding why narcissists cheat doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but it can offer insight into the complex interplay of self-worth, validation, and emotional avoidance that drives their actions. If you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s essential to recognise these patterns and seek support, whether it’s through therapy, counselling, or confiding in trusted friends and family. Remember, everyone deserves a relationship built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding.

Emma Taylor is a freelance writer specialising in psychology and relationships. With over a decade of experience, she offers a unique perspective on the intricacies of human behaviour.

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