Pathological envy is not the same as romantic jealousy. These two emotions have little to do with each other.

Romantic jealousy is the product of a violation of trust; a breach of romantic exclusivity of intimacy; and a denial of possession. It also involves damage to the self-esteem and self-perception of the cuckolded spouse, as he compares himself unfavourably to the "competition": the affair is perceived to be an overall rejection of the cheated partner.

But there's much more to it when it comes to narcissists.

Romantic jealousy is a narcissistic defence. It reflects the narcissistic traits and behaviors of possessiveness; objectification (treating the spouse and regarding her as an object); and extension (treating the spouse and regarding her as an extension of oneself: devoid of autonomy, personality, needs, wishes, and emotions). Thus, the spouse’s cheating (as in infidelity) is perceived by the narcissist to be tantamount to a violation of and an encroachment on his self, or, more simply put: it amounts to a major narcissistic injury.

Exactly like non-narcissists, narcissists are humiliated by having been lied to; suffer abandonment anxiety; compare themselves with the spouse’s new paramour; and feel deprived when the “services” of the unfaithful spouse are no longer available to them (a denial of service which may encompass sex, emotional intimacy, house chores, companionship, or any other function.)

But, in the narcissist, the violation of trust provokes full-scale and raging paranoia (where else lurks deceit?); the breach of exclusivity threatens the aforementioned narcissistic enmeshment; and the denial of possession translates to an overwhelming fear of loss and to crippling abandonment anxiety. Some narcissists even begin to display codependent behaviors, such as clinging, in a desperate attempt to regain their control over the doomed relationship.

Additionally, the narcissist's self-perception as unique, perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient - in short: his False Self - is threatened and challenged by his spouse's affair. If he is, indeed, unique and perfect - why did his spouse stray? If he is omnipotent - how did he fail to prevent the transgression? And if he is omniscient - how come he was the last to know about his wife's fling, or, worse, her long-term illicit liaison?

Narcissists are, consequently, even romantically jealous of intimate partners their spouse has had before the marriage and after the divorce. Some narcissists, realizing that they cannot control their spouses forever, become swingers or engage in group sex, where they feel that, by bringing adultery home, they have “tamed” and “controlled” it. If you can’t beat it – join it, as the saying goes.

Author's Bio: 

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam's Web site at