A great question was posted on Quora. “Are Narcissists ashamed of their behavior?”
Many of us who are victims of infidelity can relate. People who are unfaithful in marriage are generally narcissistic. They simply cannot empathize with others and what their actions do to people. (Empathy and Narcissism are opposites)
One of the answers that are a bit further down the page stood out to me. I encourage you to read the entire above link, but I wanted to address this answer on my blog.
Most narcissists are beset by shame. They are so filled with shame that it causes them to put on a mask of entitlement, specialness, superiority, and all the rest of the DSM traits.
The mask of entitlement and superiority is so prevalent in Allie, my ex-wife. She was always expressing how much better she is than anyone else. Her ideas are better. Her workouts are better. Her ways of doing things are better. And often, they weren’t. For example. She’s a total slob. But would complain that I left my toothbrush on the counter. Meanwhile, her entire makeup set, brush, and everything else were on the counter.
The mask becomes one with them, meaning that they forget that it’s a mask because the shame is so strong. They come to feel they ARE superior, entitled, due to special and attention and so forth.
I can’t tell you how much the above statement resonates with me. Allie truly believes she is superior to all others. Recently she took me to court for an order of protection (she lost) because she doesn’t like that I call her on her shit. She simply can’t handle it. So she hires an attorney and spends lots of money to “prove” that I am being mean to her. (as a side note: I won without even having to put on a defense)
They can’t generate any self-esteem internally. So they rely on other people to generate it for them. This generated self-esteem from others is called narcissistic supply, and it is the sweet nectar of attention, admiration, being treated as special, getting more than anybody else, and so on.
A small example of Allie’s desire to feel special. When she goes to Whole Foods, she will often say “watch me get this for free.” Then she’d approach the counter and ask if the person had ever tried whatever she wanted to get for free. They would often comp it for her and she’d talk about it for a bit on the way home. She loved the idea that she is the only one who can get stuff for free there. Or that she got stuff for free “all the time.”
When they don’t get this, or when things go bad for them, they enter withdrawal. To prevent this, they have secondary sources of narcissistic supply available if the primary runs out. For example, they might have affairs in case the primary relationship goes bad.
If you’ve read this blog at all, you know that Allie had three affairs that I know of. Must have been times where I wasn’t giving her all the supply she “needed” and she had to find the attention somewhere else. She has said this to me. She stated that “she felt lonely in our marriage” or that “her needs weren’t being met.”