The Evolution of Cheating Online: Red Flags For Your Relationship

The Evolution of Cheating Online: Red Flags For Your Relationship

Cheating has moved beyond the physical realm to the virtual world. Even when cheating is only online, it can destroy the emotional bonds of your relationship.

There are always signs that you can pick up on if your partner is cheating. However, before you panic and confront your partner, ensure that the evidence you found is real!

Be wary of these signs that your partner may be cheating online:

1. Spending time on hookup apps. There are multiple hookup apps that are designed to help people connect. These apps range from matchmaking to intimate sites.

  • If your spouse or partner is spending time on hookup apps, it’s a major red flag for cheating. Even if they don’t have a complete profile, your partner may still be connecting with others through messaging.
  • Your partner may be sending explicit texts and other messages through these apps. They may or may not meet them in person.
  • These types of apps are often a gateway to affairs in real life. There’s also the possibility of emotional cheating that involves your partner sharing intimate details with a stranger without physical contact.

2. Chatting with former partners online. If your partner is talking to an ex online, it’s another sign to notice.

  •  Often, online interactions with a former partner can lead to meetings in the real world. Your partner may restart a relationship with an ex by first connecting with them online.
  •  It’s important to recognize that not all interactions will lead to cheating, especially if they must discuss pertinent information about their children, but they can be a dangerous pathway.

3. Flirting on social media. Is your partner flirting with strangers online and using social media to connect with them?

  •  Social media can be a great way to meet new people, yet it can also pose risks for your relationship. If your partner is using it to flirt with strangers and interact with them inappropriately, this is a big red flag. Be aware of this behavior and monitor the interactions.
  • Innocent flirtations can still hurt and may show a deeper set of issues in the relationship.

4. Spending too much time with new friends online. Your partner may have innocent and good relationships with friends online. However, these connections may also be risky and hurt your relationship.

  • If your partner is spending more time with friends online than with you in the real world, then pay attention. Many affairs start as friendships and turn into something more serious.

What Can You Do To Help Prevent Online Cheating,

Rather than trying to ban your partner from using social media, strike a balance:

1. Draw a line. Set up boundaries before either of you goes online. Talk about things that you consider to be cheating online that could hurt your relationship. Discuss your concerns calmly and avoid heated arguments and fights.

  • People can safely use the internet without getting involved with cheating or affairs. Agree on your boundaries and then trust your partner to use it safely.

2. Recognize that online relationships can be strong and are real. They shouldn’t be ignored. Even if your partner isn’t physically touching the other person, emotional cheating can still happen.

Online cheating can have a huge impact on your relationship. These signs can help you determine what is really happening in your partner’s virtual world.

How do narcissists see marriage?

How do narcissists see marriage?

Narcissists seem to have an unusual perspective about marriage, probably because of their own childhood trauma. They don’t see marriage in the romantic or long-term sense, but rather as a contract: a deal, a trade, and an arrangement between two partners.


What do narcissists think about marriage and why do they get married?

It’s no secret that narcissists, as a rule, have a tendency to be incapable of fulfilling the role of a decent marital partner. And, we can probably agree that people with NPD aren’t going to change overnight – if at all. But this is precisely why they wind up in relationships where their character flaws are not so much manifest as they are magnified.

So why do they even bother getting married if they’re only going to fail miserably in their spousal role? Stick with me, and I’ll fill you in on the psychology of why narcissists get married and what it means for you. But first, let’s define what I mean by “narcissist.”

What is a narcissist?

A narcissist is a person who may have a diagnosed Cluster B personality disorder who demonstrates a grandiose, overblown sense of self-importance and marked lack of compassion and emotional empathy. Narcissists need to feel that they are superior to everyone else.

In other words, narcissists are identifiable by their marked lack of compassion and emotional empathy, which leads to the noticeable inability or unwillingness to recognize or identify with anyone else’s feelings and needs – especially those closest to them, since that’s the only time they actually relax enough to let their “mask slip,” as in revealing their true selves.

Pathological narcissists are manipulative, egotistical, and controlling when it comes to life and sadly, this includes their marriages and families. Still, they’re human, right? So you’d assume that, like the rest of the population, they get married for love, companionship, or to meet some societal expectation. But what’s the truth about narcissists and marriage?

Why do narcissists get married?

Narcissists need other people as much as everyone else does. But narcissists prefer to have relationships that are one-sided, and it’s not so hard to see why – narcissists need to be the center of attention and always seek admiration and adoration from other people.

While narcissists can be cold-hearted and cruel to their partners in their relationships, there is also something alluring about relationships in general. They might not even realize it because it’s subconscious, but they shape their lives to meet the needs of that ideal “special someone,” at least at the beginning of their typical toxic relationship cycle.

Do narcissists intend to hurt you when they marry you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve heard from narcissistic abuse recovery coaching clients is this: did the narcissist marry me just to hurt me? The truth is that while there are some narcissistic sociopaths and psychopaths who might literally get married for the purpose of hurting their spouses in some way, the majority of them might (at some point) genuinely believe they married you because they loved you. Of course, you have to consider the narcissist’s definition of love. That’s why, when you find out that you’ve been dealing with a narcissist, your mind is completely blown; it’s why you are having such a hard time believing that the narcissist has been fooling you into thinking you were the problem this whole time.

The narcissist has gaslighted you into doubting your entire reality. This is both shocking and infuriating once you start to realize what it all means. 

Did the narcissist ever really love you?

You’ve got to consider that while narcissists are known to love…differently than most of us, we know they can experience what might, in the moment, actually feel like genuine feelings of love to them. Narcissists seem to have a painfully misunderstood and misdirected need for love. Like every other human, they crave connection, and they need people in order to feel secure and remain functional. But rather than get security through love, genuine connection, or the narcissist feels they need to claim it, control it, take it for themselves.

What made them become a narcissist?

Trauma, often beginning in childhood, seems to lead people to become narcissistic. Narcissists develop their personality disorders like anyone else – the majority have been deeply affected by the events in their lives. For a small percentage of narcissists, there are “other” kinds of causes for pathological narcissism, but for most, it all started with something traumatic that happened to them during their childhood. Their trauma has just manifested differently than ours.

Consider the narcissist’s definition of love.

They are taught early in life that they’re pathologically and painfully alone in the world. So, love feels like a sense of ownership and control, all focused on the facilitation of their own needs and comforts. From my own observations, they seem to lack the natural urge for full reciprocation in a relationship and feel instead entitled to the approval, admiration, service, and subservience of their closest sources of narcissistic supply. 

Narcissists, underneath it all, are human.

They, like all of us, want to be loved and accepted and to belong somewhere. But deep down, they are well-aware of their flaws, at least on a subconscious level. This leads them to believe that they’re broken, flawed, or otherwise not good enough. Just like you and me, they also often suffered trauma that destroyed the person they might have been – but while you may have become a people-pleasing codependent, the same kinds of trauma might have led to their personality disorder.

If we take a closer look at the lives of these toxic people, we can see that they’ve got some things in common. For one, their role models and parental figures in childhood were often selfish and hurtful. They were either exploited by others or neglected in favor of the other parent. This childhood experience leaves them with deep emotional wounds, which make them feel unloved and unworthy.

How do narcissists see marriage?

Based on what we know so far about narcissists and marriage, consider the following.

1. A source of narcissistic supply.

The narcissist sees marriage as a too; they treat their partners as subjects… objects, really…and they seem to intrinsically believe that these partners are not significant beyond their utility to serve narcissistic needs. In other words, whether they realize it or not, marriage for most narcissists holds one main goal: to obtain and secure an always-available source of narcissistic supply.

Think about it. Malignant narcissism, or pathological narcissism, involves a group of personality traits including grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration. They can develop a pattern of exploiting other people in order to get what they want. When you are looking for a partner with whom they will live the rest of your life might find some narcissists that seem initially appealing.

2. An extension of self.

A narcissist does not see their partner as a separate person, rather an extension of themselves. There is a point at which it becomes unhealthy – and that’s the point at which narcissists operate. Even if they seem to love their partners, they expect them to act as extensions, not really separate people.

3. An in-house ego booster.

The idea of seeing a therapist or even a doctor might seem foreign or off-putting to a narcissist who finds the idea of sharing secrets with another person for advice to be tricky. Though it can be a challenge to recognize, most narcissists struggle with low self-esteem and a poor sense of identity. Being in a marriage makes them feel valuable when they allow others to see them as valuable by loving them.

4. An emotional garbage dumpster for their self-loathing.

While they desperately cling to the idea that no one is quite like them, and like they’re the original, only, best, or true (fill in the blank with their grandiose fantasies) around, narcissists secretly live in the deep sludge that is self-loathing. In other words, they secretly hate who they are at the very core. So they spend a lot of time building up this false self-image that on some level, they even actually believe.

5. A built-in source of false image support.

The narcissist develops an image based on their false self, or the mask they wear to hide their perceived inadequacies from most people in their lives. This image must remain infallible to everyone outside of a select few when it comes to survival for a narcissist. So they need someone who will always be on their team and support their false self-image, while also being an emotional garbage dumpster to turn your life upside down.

6. Validation on tap.

Since they cannot self-validate, narcissists require constant validation to feel better about themselves. Relationships allow them to feel special and important. Having a properly-conditioned partner in place, they have found a way to get validation whenever they need it.

Do all narcissists get married? 

No, not all narcissists get married. Not every narcissist desires or searches out relationships at all. Like all sentient humans, while they do seem to have a playbook, narcissists are still relatively unique individual people with specific lives. So, whether they even want to be in a relationship always depends on the nature of the narcissist. Some are solitary, some are attracted to power. To be fair, most are both, at least in their own individual ways.

Why do married narcissists cheat on their partners?

Narcissists are avoidants by nature, preferring to take their distance from others, rather than getting close to them. That also means that they have problems with intimacy, that is being close physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually to another person. Narcissists have a unique ability to take just about any situation and find a way to benefit from it. One of these situations is an affair.

One of the most disproportionately high personality disorders to find itself involved in extramarital affairs is narcissism. While statistics vary, it’s often said that between 20-33% of individuals who are involved in affairs are narcissists. That’s not to say that one-fifth of all people who cheat are narcissists (we wouldn’t want to make generalizations like that!), but it does seem to indicate that if you’ve got a narcissist in your midst, there’s a chance they could be cheating on you.

People with severe personality disorders often find themselves in relationship after relationship, cheating whenever something threatens their self-image, and fear of abandonment. Narcissists cheat because they feel entitled to do so and they can’t handle someone calling them out on that behavior.

Though many marriages are based on codependency, you should never feel like you need to act like someone’s mother or father.

Yes, narcissists DO get married, but…

Some people think that narcissists don’t get married at all. I guess that in some ways, this can be considered true; but in reality, narcissists don’t get married for the same reasons as everyone else.   They won’t marry for the same reasons everyone else gets married. Narcissists see marriage differently than most people. To start with, they don’t really know what marriage is supposed to be.

For example, maybe they didn’t have the privilege of growing up in a family where the parents stayed married to each other. Or their parents stayed married, but they didn’t see their parents demonstrating selfless love for each other, for themselves, and others. So when they get married at some point in life, it has little or no meaning to them. They certainly might become obsessed with their marriage; but only because it gives them something that gives them narcissistic supply. Something that makes them feel powerful and important, or if this isn’t possible – needed.

Are you married to a narcissist? Take this toxic relationship self-assessment to find out and get insight into your emotions.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

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Narcissists and Public Humiliation: How & Why Narcissists Shame You Publicly

Narcissists and Public Humiliation: How & Why Narcissists Shame You Publicly

Public humiliation is one of many ways that a narcissist will manipulate and psychologically abuse his or her sources of narcissistic supply.

Narcissists and Public Humiliation

Often, a narcissist will humiliate you in public as part of an active smear campaign – and while I’ve previously explained smear campaigns, today I’m going to go a little more in-depth on the public humiliation part of it – which, in my opinion, is one of the most traumatic parts of the whole smear campaign tactic. So, first off, I’m going to give you a few real-life examples of how toxic narcissists have used public humiliation to hurt the people who loved them.

The Litigious Loser

One client told me her narcissistic ex-husband would use their children as bargaining chips and poison them against her. Then, he’d intentionally push, poke and agitate her to the point she’d get really upset and confused – and would then start videotaping her and threaten to use it to take her to court. He held the recordings over her head in order to continue to manipulate and control her even though they’d been divorced – which he did for several years before she came to me for narcissistic abuse recovery coaching.

The Sexy Selfie Stronghold

In today’s digital world, nearly everyone can admit to having snapped a sexy photo for the one they love and even, in some cases, participated in on-camera sexual activities with that person.

And you know how narcissists are, right? Yep. SEVERAL of my clients have told me that their narcissists – both male and female – have either used or threatened to use nude or otherwise compromising photos of them in order to blackmail them into doing what they wanted.

Flying Monkey ‘Friends’

Another way that narcissists like to manipulate and publicly humiliate their victims is through the use of flying monkeys – people who, willingly or otherwise, help the narcissist to manipulate you.

For example, a narcissistic wife of one of my clients managed to humiliate him by spreading gossip among his female co-workers about his sexual health – none of which were true, but all of which really changed the way his co-workers saw him.

Her intention, of course, was to ensure his fidelity as he worked alongside his attractive coworkers each day. But in her selfishness and lack of concern and empathy for her husband, this narcissist had managed to make sure that he felt completely isolated, alone, and humiliated in his workplace every day. The environment eventually became so toxic that my client moved on to a new company – and thankfully, he got divorced (and eventually moved on with a much healthier girlfriend).

In all three of those cases, there’s a similarity – and I’m not talking about the obvious one (the humiliation factor). I’m talking about the fact that none of these people recognized at first that they were even being abused – or at least, they couldn’t admit it.

So let’s talk about that.

The Humiliation Factor: No One Wants to Admit They’re Accepting the Abuse

So, how can you possibly “miss” the fact that you’re being abused?

The problem with abuse is that most relationships don’t begin with abuse. Instead, there are subtle shifts along the way, silent reprogramming until the abuser feels confident that they can control the relationship.

In most cases, by the time the abuse becomes recognizable, the victim has been so brainwashed that she or he (men can also be victims of abusive relationships) doesn’t recognize the actions as abuse and actually takes the blame for his or her predicament.

Victims often can’t be convinced that they’re experiencing abuse. They’re so busy justifying the behavior of the abuser that they don’t see it for what it is.
In many cases, the simple answer is that it’s hard to admit you’ve allowed this to happen. But if you recognize some of the following patterns in your own relationship, it’s quite possible that you are in fact, a victim of abuse.

Thoughts? Share them, along with your relevant experiences, in the comments below this video.

Emotional Terrorism: Narcissists Who Gaslight and Torment You on Social Media

Emotional Terrorism: Narcissists Who Gaslight and Torment You on Social Media

So often, I hear from viewers, readers, and my coaching clients that they’re being bullied online by a narcissist – usually, one they’ve been personally involved with.

In those cases, narcissists will do everything from attempting to use social media to publicly and personally humiliate their victims to generally spreading rumors and lies about them – and then some.

For example, when a victim goes no-contact with a toxic narcissist, he or she may first put on a really good “poor me” show for his/her connections. They may ask for advice – “how do I deal with this crazy person” – or they may flat-out make false claims about their target to the world.

So why is this such an effective way to continue to abuse their victims?

In addition to the fact that it often connects to literally everyone you know, social media bullying can be the ultimate platform for life-destroying passive-aggressive behavior – and we all know that’s a narcissist’s comfort zone.

We have so much technology now that’s supposed to streamline our lives and make it easier to connect with the people that we care about.

It’s supposed to make it easier to do business and make good things happen for our careers. But strangely, the technology that was supposed to be the key to our happiness, comfort and success has the potential to backfire.

Instead of helping, especially in toxic situations, the use of technology has led many people to deeper levels of stress, feelings of discontentment and lives so busy that they’re hardly living at all.

Toxic Abuse in the “Virtual”

Often, a narcissist will lash out at a victim through social media – and this may happen either during the relationship or after its over.

They (or their flying monkeys – aka enablers) will spread gossip, harrass you, blow up your PMs or even post publicly on your page – or theirs – to let everyone know how “terrible” you are.

This, like every kind of narcissistic abuse, serves a couple of purposes.

First, people who aren’t clued into the situation will offer the narc sympathy and say nasty things to or about his/her target. This gives the narc some good “supply,” and also helps him/her to accomplish their goal of making you look crazy (hello gaslighting!).

Essentiallly, a toxic narcissist will use social media to target his or her various sources of supply (and/or anyone who makes him/her feel bad about themselves). This might include ex-spouses, ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, current partner, new wife or girlfriend of an ex, colleagues, friends and even people the narcissist never met. I’ve personally had this one happen quite often, doing what I do, as I’m sure you can imagine.

In addition to basically anyone who makes a narc feel bad about him/herself and her behavior, the narcissist may target anyone who gets in their way and/or anyone they fear will expose their true nature.

Many narcissists (not to mention histrionics, borderlines and other self-obsessed, abusive personality types) use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms to run smear campaigns, make false allegations abput their targets – and more.

Others will go so as far as to use social media to perpetrate parent/child alienation (especially with divorced and/or step-parent situations) and to stalk and harass their targets while simultaneously portraying themselves as the much-maligned victim, superman/woman and/or mother/father of the year.

Let’s talk about emotional terrorism.

Since a lot of narcissists are especially gifted when it comes to finding your sensitive issues – the little “sore spots” we all have – they intuitively use social media to lash out at or attack their victims.

They’ll hurt people without a second thought, and they’ll do it while making themselves look like the injured party – it’s narcissistic injury on crack.

Of course, they use this platform to push people around and down – and raise themselves up. They need to have power over other people, and they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want.

Listen, these aren’t new behaviors for narcissists in general – it just allows them to reach a bigger audience. It’s the whole smear campaign thing times a million.

So how do you deal with being gaslighted and manipulated through social media?

You start by not getting involved. If you see it happen, immediately block the narcissist so they don’t have access to your profile and can’t tag you in their drama.

Even though it’s complete bullshit, you have to stand firm by not getting involved. If you DO fire back publicly through social media, the narcissist will only use it to cement his/her case – “see, I told you she/he was crazy!”

Even if you’re just an online bystander to someone else’s drama, if you experience that, your mind will register the same type of anxious response as if you had been involved and your feelings will follow the lead of your thoughts.

When you see how wonderful someone else’s life appears to be online, it can lead you to become discontent and irritable. It can make you focus on the negative instead of looking at the positive.

Dealing with Narcissists in Social Media? Awareness of Your Thoughts is Key

Online interaction can also make you feed yourself negative self talk – especially when you see others who are better looking, richer, have nicer homes, easier looking lives and appear to be having more fun.

Not only will you feel bad about yourself, but your stress level will go up. When you practice mindfulness in associating with your technology use, you’ll discover that your happiness level will increase.

You can do this by setting limits on when you’ll be online and how much time you’ll spend online. Refuse to keep your cellphone with you 24/7. When you are on social media or online, find ways to use it to do something positive such as encourage someone else.

Let go of the things online that are irrelevant to your life or that make your negativity or stress level rise. When you do go online, make sure that you have a defined purpose and a time limit and stick to that.

So, if you’re there right now, or if you’ve been there before, tell me about your experiences. How did you deal? What tips would you offer another survivor in the same situation?

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Tune In: How to Deal When Online Drama Affects Your ‘Real Life’

Tune In: How to Deal When Online Drama Affects Your ‘Real Life’

“All of the biggest technological inventions created by man – the airplane, the automobile, the computer – says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.” – Mark Kennedy

 

Technolgy affects happiness

Life is Different Than it Used to Be

We live in an online world more often than not. We have so much technology now that’s supposed to streamline our lives and make it easier to connect with the people that we care about.

It’s supposed to make it easier to do business and make good things happen for our careers. But strangely, the technology that was supposed to be the key to our happiness, comfort and success has the potential to backfire.

Instead of helping, in many cases, the use of technology has led people to deeper levels of stress, feelings of discontentment and lives so busy that they’re hardly living at all.

Related: Kissing Frogs – 27 things everyone should know about online dating

It’s Not JUST the Internet – Take Responsibility for Your Choices

Studies performed on the link between stress and time spend on the Internet or social media sites can be misleading when they claim that spending time online can lower stress.

The factors involved in the studies don’t take into consideration the offline lifestyles of those involved in the studies. Technology in itself is neither good nor bad. It’s how it’s used that can make it something that can negatively impact your life.

That’s it – the key to using technology and staying happy at the same time. 

The key is to use technology with mindfulness. You can incorporate what’s good and positive about being online and the various use of technology to connect with other people in a meaningful way.

For example, if you have family members that live a good distance away from you, it can make you feel happier when you connect with them instantly through a text message or through an online chat.

You can share updates about your life or send relatives photos of your kids instantly. When you use social media with mindfulness, it can help you to be able to better manage stress.

It can also lead to feelings of contentment and leave you with a more positive outlook. The dark side of being online is that there’s a great deal of negativity floating around in cyberspace.

The Trolls Online

We’ve all heard about online trolls, and some of us are even privileged enough to know one. Are all trolls narcissists? Maybe, maybe not. But there are numerous stories about people being hateful to each other, calling names, bullying, threatening or harassing. There are people who keep drama heightened through online fighting.

8374037-77549111_23-s1-v1Even if you’re just an online bystander to someone else’s drama, if you experience that, your mind will register the same type of anxious response as if you had been involved and your feelings will follow the lead of your thoughts.

When you see how wonderful someone else’s life appears to be online, it can lead you to become discontent and irritable. It can make you focus on the negative instead of looking at the positive.

Awareness of Your Thoughts is Key

Online interaction can also make you feed yourself negative self talk – especially when you see others who are better looking, richer, have nicer homes, easier looking lives and appear to be having more fun.

Not only will you feel bad about yourself, but your stress level will go up. When you practice mindfulness in associating with your technology use, you’ll discover that your happiness level will increase.

You can do this by setting limits on when you’ll be online and how much time you’ll spend online. Refuse to keep your cellphone with you 24/7. When you are on social media or online, find ways to use it to do something positive such as encourage someone else.

Let go of the things online that are irrelevant to your life or that make your negativity or stress level rise. When you do go online, make sure that you have a defined purpose and a time limit and stick to that.

What do you think? How does living “online” affect your “real life” these days? Could you benefit from being more mindful about your technology use? 

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