3 Narcissistic Cheating Patterns With Jeni Woodfin LMFT

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT

Narcissistic cheating patterns are important to learn. They will help you see through attempts to gaslight and manipulate your perception of reality. Because highly narcissistic people and full blown NPDs i.e. people with narcissistic personality disorder, are compulsive liars, they excel at concealing their true intentions and activities. Confrontation is useless. The closest most people come to getting a straight answer out of a narcissist are the farfetched accusations they make to deflect from the terrible truth about their treachery.

So how do you catch a narcissist cheating?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT explains that the truth is evident in their behavior and shares how to spot three key narcissistic cheating patterns.

Why Are Most Narcissists Chronically Unfaithful?

Narcissists are relentlessly disloyal, which is why involvement with them leads to inevitable harm. 

More often than not, narcissism is a driving force behind promiscuity and infidelity. Narcissists may feign commitment as a means to an end but in reality, they approach romantic relationships with an attitude of I’ll-get-you-before-you-get-me.

One of the reasons for this is that narcissists detest feelings of vulnerability. They are driven by an insatiable hunger for power and control because it relieves them of early experiences of impotence.

Narcissists prefer ego-boosting sexual conquests as proof positive of their ability to charm and seduce. It’s one of the ways they parade their superior manipulation skills.

Lying puts narcissists at an advantage as it thwarts their partner’s ability to make informed decisions. Misleading and deceiving others is a way to ease the nagging insecurities that plague them.

The risks of a relationship with a cheating narcissist

Under normal circumstances, infidelity can destroy relationships. But if your partner is a narcissist, the betrayals are so absolute and extreme that they may leave you completely shellshocked. 

If you’re involved with a narcissist and they are cheating on you, you’re likely at risk for a traumatic discard which may include being unceremoniously replaced by a new partner who they’ve secretly been grooming behind your back.

Alternatively, a cheating narcissist may drive you to end the relationship with one outrageous offense after the next. Only to immediately replace you with a new love interest they have quietly groomed behind your back.

Learning to recognize these three subtle narcissistic cheating patterns will empower you to see past the smoke and mirrors of a narcissistic partner’s endless deceptions.

3 Narcissistic Cheating Patterns

For expert guidance, we reached out to Jeni Woodfin, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist trained in repairing relationships after infidelity. She obtained her master’s degree in counseling psychology from John F. Kennedy University. Today she practices in Silicon Valley where she specializes in betrayal trauma, including infidelity, emotional affairs, and other trust breaches. 

They Put More Effort Into Their Appearance

Manya Wakefield: You’ve worked with hundreds of couples as well as with people who are cheating or recovering from infidelity. What’s the first narcissistic cheating pattern to look out for?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: Your partner changes and it’s noticeable. 

Manya Wakefield: Do you mean that there are changes in the narcissist’s baseline behavior?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: You may see your partner become very happy, suddenly interested in their appearance, losing weight, buying new clothes, trying a new haircut, or updating their manscaping game. 

Manya Wakefield: So the first narcissistic cheating pattern to watch out for is some kind of superficial change, like a change in style or appearance.

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: If you notice your partner suddenly grooming more than normal, this is a potential sign your partner is thinking about how to be and feel attractive.

They Start Changing Their Schedule

Manya Wakefield: What would you say is the second of the narcissistic cheating patterns people should be aware of? 

Jenny Woodfin, LMFT: Another clue would be a change in schedules. 

Manya Wakefield: Can you describe what changes in the narcissist’s schedule might look like?

Jenny Woodfin, LMFT: Many of us have a fairly predictable schedule or routine. If your partner begins to take late meetings at work, has new business dinners in the evening, or is away from the house more, this potentially signals they are making time for another person. 

There Are Changes in Sexual Activity

Manya Wakefield: So, a narcissist who is unfaithful would be grooming themselves more and making changes to their routine to win over another romantic interest. What would you say is the third one of the narcissistic cheating patterns to look out for?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: The last sign that often happens is a change in the bedroom that can go either way. Sex may increase, new sexual moves may be introduced, or new sexual behaviors may be requested. Or, some affair-involved partners go the opposite way with the bedroom becoming dead. 

Manya Wakefield: This is an interesting red flag because, for many, it seems like a dead giveaway. Walk us through the strategy of the last one of these narcissistic cheating patterns. Why would a cheating narcissist stop having sex with their partner?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: These people may experience very low sexual desire for their partner, may avoid being sexual, or may have difficulty performing. 

Manya Wakefield: Something I often hear from survivors is that people with this personality report feelings of boredom. Their infidelities are usually less about their partner and more about the insatiable emptiness they are constantly trying to fill with white knuckle experiences like substance use, promiscuity, infidelity, gambling, and the power trip of manipulation.

To summarize, what would you say is the common denominator shared by all three narcissistic cheating patterns?

Jeni Woodfin, LMFT: The link between all these signs is change. Many couples know each other very, very well. If you see a change from a long-time pattern, especially if the change results in coldness or distance, this could be a result of an affair.


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Manya Wakefield is an educator and recovery coach specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma. She is also the author of 'Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?' and host of the Narcissistic Abuse Rehab Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.