25 Sep Narcissism, Co-Dependency and the Sex Barometer
Is Your Sex Life Healthy?
Sex is sometimes talked about as a barometer for communication in a relationship. There are sound reasons for this. In many areas of life we can avoid one another, hide our feelings and otherwise be dishonest about how things are between us. This is more difficult when we are sharing a bed with someone. In this case, it is the quality of our intimate time that tells a story.
So, if your sex life were a barometer, what reading would you get on the dial?
Fair Weather Sailing
Is your sex life healthy and fun most of the time. Do you sometimes feel playful and adventurous, knowing that whatever happens you will be safe and cared for by your significant other?
As with the weather, it is unrealistic to expect blue skies all year round but providing there is an underlying feeling of wellbeing, trust, respect and safety your sex life and relationship is likely to be healthy.
Very Dry For the Foreseeable
Everybody’s libido cycles up and down but if your sex life has hit the doldrums with little sign of a breeze to shift you along then you could be heading for the rocks.
If this describes your sex life, it is important that you urgently open up communication channels. There are many reasons why sex stops happening, from medical conditions and stress to a lack of trust or fulfillment. It would be a shame if you allowed your sex life and relationship to fail when an honest conversation or even a holiday could be all it takes to reset the clock on your romance.
On the other hand, if sex is being avoided due to fear or distrust or withheld as a punishment, a perilous narcissism-codependency dynamic could be at play.
Like the ocean itself, most relationships chop and change with the seasons and, on the whole, this is nothing to be worried about.
After a period of stress or a difficult life event, your sex life can become a low priority for one or both of you. Your partner’s reaction when you are not in the mood for intimacy can be a powerful clue as to whether your relationship as a whole is healthy. A supportive partner, even if they feel frustrated, will understand and give you the space and time to recover from whatever is dampening your libido.
For a narcissist however, the fact that they want to have sex would trump any issues that you may be experiencing. Their reaction could range from sulking to verbal abuse right the way up to, in severe cases, outright rape.
If the narcissist decides he or she does not want to sleep with you they will be equally dismissive of your needs for intimacy, perhaps openly watching pornography or having an affair to make the rejection even more painful.
Of course, if they feel they are losing their power over you they will quickly adjust their behavior to convince you that they do want to be with you after all. The desperate and relieved co-dependent will then be back to square one.
Storm Clouds Gather
Like a cloud passing over the sun, does the thought of impending intimacy fill you with dread? There are many reasons why we may feel nervous and uncomfortable when at our most vulnerable. A new partner, previous bad experiences and low self-esteem are just some of them. However, if you are afraid for your personal safety because of your partner’s current or past behaviour then that is a different matter.
People have different ideas of what sexual intimacy should involve but this should always be negotiated. For example, it is normal to enact fantasies in the bedroom but only when all parties consent and there is an understanding that ‘no means no,’ and ‘stop means stop.’
Of course, the narcissist is only concerned with their personal enjoyment and so the refusal to compromise on bedroom activity is a strong sign that you may be in a relationship with someone who will hurt you – psychologically if not physically.
Be honest with yourself. Are your fears based on the way your partner has treated you in the past – whether in the bedroom or not? Trust is central to good sex and a good relationship. Its absence should be heeded as one of the strongest warning signs of all that you need to get out – and fast.
Sex and Recovering from a Narcissist
If you have managed to escape from your narcissistic relationship and are entering a new intimate partnership you may find that your previous negative experiences involving your sex life are having an impact, preventing you from moving on.
If you feel stuck and unable to enjoy your sex life with your new partner, you should seriously consider accessing professional counselling. For more information about both the unhooking and recovery phases of a narcissism-codependency dynamic, consider buying a copy of my book, ‘Narcissism and Co-Dependency: Both Sides of the Coin.’
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