A few weeks I talked to you about The Dangers Of The Cerebral Narcissist And How To Avoid Them and many people have written in to ask about the somatic narcissist, who they are, and what to look out for regarding them.
I decided I’d like to share with you essential information about somatic narcissists.
Most narcissistic experts believe that there are two type of narcissists – the cerebral type who acquires narcissistic supply primarily with their brain, and the somatic narcissist who seeks attention and significance through their physicality.
What I really believe is that this generalisation is not entirely accurate, because narcissists can shift from one to the other, although it can be argued that predominately a narcissist may be cerebral or somatic.
To me, the vision of a traditional somatic narcissist would be someone who is obsessed with their looks and physical body almost to the exception of all else. This brings to mind men preening in front of the mirror at the gym and being obsessed with their weights routine and supplements, and women who talk virtually exclusively about hair, clothes, beauty treatments and makeup, and who aren’t much deeper than that.
This stereotype somatic narcissist is not the type of narcissist, male or female, I have personally had much experience with. I have tended to connect with the more cerebral type narcissist.
My reason for not gravitating toward your typical somatic narcissist was because at school I was a really gawky kid. I was very late developing, I had lank straight hair and braces and I wasn’t one of the cool kids. The boys who were “jocks” were way too popular to be interested in me.
As I got older, and even when I had opportunities to connect with somatic type men, their energy felt unappealing to me. I could aesthetically appreciate their looks, but being in a relationship with one of them would have left me cold. I’m not attracted to people who don’t have something deep, rich or spiritual to say (which the cerebral narcissists did). Surface level superficiality is not my cup of tea.
Somatic women similarly hold very little appeal for me. My close girlfriends are not women who have obsessive preoccupations with their looks, they have other interests in their life, even though they may look after themselves and have healthy beauty regimes. (There is a BIG difference!)
Another reason I was always more attracted to the cerebral type narcissist was that they were usually more successful in the real world, which of course suited my previous co-dependent fears of not being able to survive on my own. (Please do note, however, that there are somatic narcissists who also can get it together to create and generate wealth.)
Sooo … in many ways it is easier for me to connect with information about cerebral narcissists, yet because I have been working in this Community for 10 years with many clients and NARP Members who have been connected with somatic narcissists, and because of the somatic characteristics of the narcissists I was involved with (which absolutely did surface) – I feel like I can certainly tap in and share information with you about this type of narcissist.
I would like to say this though, with narcissistic sub-definitions, I believe there is no hard and fast law. Especially because narcissists can change their behaviour to suit how they work the people who they are using for narcissistic supply. Fundamentally they are chameleons.
The narcissistic behaviours, which are eerily common denominators, are covered in this article which both somatic and cerebral narcisists play out.
The Classic Somatic Narcissist
Somatic narcissists gain narcissistic supply with the use of their body. Their body is their weapon of choice to elicit admiration and envy.
This means that working out is common, as is diet, clothes, and adornments – in short anything to look better.
Somatic narcissists are often preoccupied with sex. They can use people for sex, feel very entitled to have and ask for sex, and believe any attention coming their way is an invitation for sex.
They like to imagine that everyone is attracted to them and wants to be with them.
Many somatic narcissists self-medicate their inner pain with sex and could be classified as sex-addicts. However, it can also be understood that somatic narcissists get copious amounts of narcissistic supply from the attention, drama and adoration their looks and bodies illicit, that doesn’t even include the actual act of sex.
The bottom line is they derive great significance in how they can affect other human beings who fall for them.
Many somatic narcissists are unfaithful and pathological in regard to extra-relationship affairs because sexual attention is the feed for their ego. The possibility of sexual attention – the chase and the conquest is far too enticing.
The Female Somatic Narcissist
Female narcissists often use their appearances to gain narcissistic supply. Female somatic narcissists are arguably (generally) more shallow and superficial than male somatics, who can at times have personalities that incorporate some other conversation than just aesthetic beauty.
Somatic female narcissists tend to make their appearance their career. It often works for them, because they have the ability to snare a man who is mesmerized by looks and charm and will do what good men do – try to make his woman happy.
This means funding and supporting her quest to look good, smell good, feel good and have the best of what she can have.
Somatic women are very good at spotting nice guys with fat wallets, who will fund a superficial lifestyle of diet, looks, exercise regimes, hair style and clothes – and whatever makes her feel “attractive” and “superior”. As well, of course, provide her with her everyday financial security.
She is entitled, she wants the best vacation spot, upgraded accommodation, business class flights, expensive wine, exotic cocktails, label name handbags and heels and believes he should provide it for her.
Even though the somatic narcissistic woman can be a master at pouring on the charm, sex, compassion and attentiveness that will ensure she gets what she wants – the cracks may not be very far from the surface. She overcompensates for her deep insecurities by trying to lord her superiority over others. For example, she can be cruel to waitresses, complaining when she believes she isn’t treated with the respect she deserves.
Another interesting trait I have heard about, time and time again from male and gay clients who have been with somatic females, is their hypochondria. Part of the ways that these women control people is to be sick and reliant and believe that they are entitled to be provided for and looked after.
They may act out histrionic behaviour such as threatening to take their own lives. They use guilt tactics and are into forcing people to take responsibility for them whilst refusing to take responsibility for themselves. And amongst it, they can still indulge their looks and use their appeal to get their way.
The most effective narcissistic women in securing narcissistic supply are generally somatic because many men are physically and chemically attracted to them.
The Male Somatic Narcissist
Somatic narcissism which is a preoccupation with looks and often possessing a dramatic even histrionic personality is often attributed to women. Traditionally, women are more concerned with appearances than men, even though there are absolutely males who are self-obsessed.
Many gay narcissists can be somatic in nature, even though there certainly are those who are cerebral too.
The male somatic narcissist brags about who he has sex with, flaunts his strength and male prowess and believes that people who show him attention wish to have sex with him. The stereotypical male somatic narcissist is obsessed with his physique. His diet and exercise regime is strict and produces the body which gains him masses of attention – narcissistic supply.
Somatic narcissist can be sex addicts, however generally the ego feed of being admired and being able to secure the object of supply that they wish and have the ensuing drama in getting people hooked on them, is more satisfying than the actual sex.
The male somatic narcissist, simply because he is male, may not be as hell-bent on securing a partner as the somatic female who may need a man to fund her lifestyle. Even though he wants women for supply, he is also terrified about being captured and controlled by one. He may prefer to reel people in, being the consummate adoring lover, and then push them away with cold aloofness and become totally switched off and sexless.
He will tend to be unfaithful, chasing the next high of the sexual conquest rather than suffer the constraints and boredom of a monogamous human love partnership.
That is unless his ego ascertains that “she” (or “he”) is the most incredible source of narcissistic supply possible and needs to be captured. Then the somatic narcissist can be like any narcissist – fixated on commitment, moving in and marriage.
Yet, down the track the inevitable narcissistic cycle of devalue and discard will come. It always follows the idealisation. Sooner or later the narcissist’s False Self will not receive the high it needs to sustain it, from this person, and the honeymoon is well and truly over.
What Differentiates Having Pride In One’s Appearance to Somatic Narcissism?
This I really want to talk about this, because so many people over the years have said to me, “Melanie, I look after myself. I exercise. I like to dress well and take care of how I look. Does this mean I have somatic narcissistic traits?”
I know that many of us who take pride in our appearance may become a little fearful when we start reading about somatic narcissists, and absolutely the thought used to cross my mind when I learnt about narcissism, Do I have somatic narcissistic tendencies?
The truth was when I was young and insecure and it was ALL about how I looked, I more than likely did!
Today, I don’t fear that at all anymore, and I still like to look after myself.
I personally don’t believe that wanting to eat healthily and exercise and dress well makes you a somatic narcissist UNLESS you are doing this to try to feel whole on the inside by getting attention from other people to feed your ego.
In stark contrast, when you are living the Thriver Way – putting your soul’s and inner being health as your number one priority, which means looking after yourself as an extension of feeling good on the inside – you become healthy authentically on the inside and outside. You start to exude “radiance”.
Our recently departed, much loved, Louise Hay was a huge advocate for adorning oneself beautifully. She believed it was an expression of loving oneself.
With somatic narcissists, in stark contrast, “looking after one’s self” is not an overflow from a blissful happy centre, rather the strictly honed outer appearance it is an attempt to try to get attention in order to feel better on the inside.
As normal as this may sound, it is never authentic or healthy.
This is sadly the case with people when “enough is never enough”. The muscles aren’t big enough, the waist isn’t slim enough, the tan isn’t dark enough – the list goes on and on. Naturally, this is about dire insecurity, which is synonymous with narcissism:
I am not enough to be worthy of life, and I need to be someone who I am not to survive.
We can be forgiven when thinking that people who have endless plastic surgery may be suffering from some form of somatic narcissism.
So … if you care about your appearance and eating healthily and exercising, keep it up IF it is an expression of the wellbeing you are generating from inside you.
It’s healthy for you and your children to model what self-care, self-respect and wellbeing are about.
How Somatic Narcissists Can Switch to Cerebrals
Often with somatic narcissists, once the thrill of the chase is gone they may turn cerebral.
Meaning they lose all interest in that level of sexuality with you. They may withhold sex, stand back and accuse you of being demanding with sex. And just to make you feel even crazier, if you choose to walk away, then the copious amounts of glorious love-making may start up again.
Or, when you start settling into a pattern of not wanting as much sex with them, they may punish you with guilt about your lack of sexual appetite.
This is atypically narcissistic – damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Somatic narcissists (like all narcissists) are not having sex with you in order to love you and connect with you. There would need to be a healthy True Self present within them for this to be the case. (People can only give genuinely Who They Are Being on the inside) Their sex with you is non-emotionally connected, it is a form of masturbation whilst they are using your body as the toy to get off.
Narcissists are disconnected, and their prowess in bed is to satiate their ego. It’s about their performance, it’s not about loving and pleasing you.
Why Do People Connect With Somatic Narcissists?
I really do believe that when we are attracted to people through our wounds, we tend to want the people who seemingly exhibit the qualities that we don’t feel we have within ourselves.
If we need to have someone on our arm who is physically breathtaking, without worrying about assessed their character or values as a relationship criteria, then maybe we are insecure about our own appearance.
A valid question may be: Do we love and accept ourselves imperfections and all?
We may believe that being with an attractive person boosts our own attractiveness, desirability, appeal and acceptance in the world.
If we are not clear about the human values we need to align with in order for a successful relationship, we may have “sexual appeal” as our BIG criteria, without realising that this can be disastrous for relationship longevity. Especially if this is with a narcissistic individual who has neither the resources or the care to be a healthy partner, or met you in unity consciousness.
There is a very powerful undercurrent going on here that we may not have realised:
If we are idolising someone as a result of their looks, then we are objectifying people. We are connecting to them at an ego level and not a soul or heart (true) level.
Yes, an attraction is important and that includes physicality, but there is an X factor regarding “appeal” – namely character, values, energy, presence, a person’s heart and soul – different criteria to just “looks” that make up the perfect package for us.
True compatibility is rooted deeply in values and spirit, rather than just aesthetics.
When we “feel” people at deeper soul levels, many of us acknowledge that even the most aesthetically perfect looking people can “feel” ugly, whereas individuals who are not classical stunning can be totally attractive due to their authenticity, peacefulness or wise and radiant nature.
If we are connecting to people through their “sex appeal” and “charm” without getting to know the other aspects of them, we are susceptible to somatic narcissists. And many somatic narcissists are overtly narcissistic, they don’t hide it as well as cerebrals. They are often boorish, immature, abrasive, dismissive and totally self-obsessed.
To be with one you have be focused exclusively on their looks and constantly making excuses for them.
And this is where we get to awaken and evolve, when we closely look at the matches within us that bring us together with certain people. People like to argue it is the differences that create the bond, but it is not. We are in a Quantum Universe of so within – so without, and the match in this instance is idolisation.
The narcissist is idolising you as an object who grants narcissistic supply. As the new supply, you are placed high up upon the pedestal. You are all shiny and new and offering the narcissist A-grade narcissistic supply – the essential self-medication from the inner wounds of his or her damaged True Self.
And of course, the bubble will burst – for both of you.
The narcissist will devalue and discard you; you will become the enemy who is no longer handing over “enough” or the “right” narcissistic supply, and rather than granting egoic relief you are causing narcissistic injury instead.
And the thing you loved about the narcissist – the physicality – will become exactly the obsession, superficiality, detachment and the narcissistic weapon that you detest.
All relationships based in idolisation (False Self) and not in spirit (True Self) end that way.
What Are Our Underlying Traumas Connecting Us To Somatics?
The truth is there is a high price to pay to couple with a somatic narcissist. You have to stroke their ego, you have to center your conversations around their looks, diet and newest this or that which they are doing, to satisfy their vanity.
You have to make sure you tell them they are the best-looking person in your world.
You have to put up with their tantrums, childishness, ego, vanity and insecurities, superficiality and sense of entitlement and selfishness.
You have to put up with a lot of other areas in their life that may be severely lacking, including what is necessary to have a fulfilling, mature, healthy relationship with someone.
You have to put up with the rollercoaster – being the flavour of the month one minute and tossed into the trash the next.
You have to put up with new sources of supply being flaunted and thrown in your face.
So … why might you be in the cycles of doing this – forgoing true intimacy for idolisation and hoping that will grant you and sustain you in true love?
Generally, a big chemical attraction to someone is a red flag.
When we feel the primal crazy urge for someone sexually – which is a common bond with somatic narcissists – the intensity of your feelings is often coming from wounds and not a solid love truth. The intensity of feelings is about obsessive painful desires to have previous emotional unmet needs met.
I have discovered within this Community time and time again, and within myself at times in my journey when I was playing out desire and connection with people who I idolised, that woundedness is the fuel driving it.
I believe people who have a strong emphasis on sexual and physical connections are usually the type of people who have addictive natures. All addiction is to do with an emptiness inside, a trauma, that we try to self-medicate with a substance, pastime or person to numb out the inner pain.
Generally, this emptiness is to do with self-worth, self-love and self-value deficits whereby we were parented in ways that did not allow our Inner Identity to develop as whole and healthy.
As children, we may not have felt valued or loved and approved of for who we were.
That is what requires healing to get out of this mess.
Healing From Somatic Narcissistic Attraction
I believe this is two fold.
We can go deeply inside to find, hold and release the traumas that may be blocking us from loving and approving of ourselves “warts and all”.
So that we can feel healthy and acceptable in our bodies, knowing we are loveable for who we are – unconditionally – rather than suffering insecurities and trauma about the way we look.
Then we will tend to not seek from the outside what we feel is missing on the inside (which ironically will be with someone just as, if not MORE, insecure than we feel about ourselves) to try to be anchored in feeling beautiful and worthy.
Because, that is an inside job, and ONLY then can other people add healthily to that.
Also, our healing is about self-partnering and holding and releasing the woundedness that is not allowing us to be truly present, connected and intimate.
What is it about us that is not yet emotionally available, and choosing others who are also not available? How are we unconsciously avoiding a true relationship – such as choosing people who there is no true relationship possibility with, such as the hot, young, buff guy 25 years younger than us?
Who in our earlier life was not emotionally available for us? Where did we feel so hurt by being abandoned, rejected or deemed irrelevant that we don’t want to risk truly connecting to someone for real again?
These are all childhood and generational traumas we can release and reverse if we are prepared to do the inner work.
And it’s essential, if we want to participate in different, much less painful love realities which are only confirming that we don’t deserve to be loved … repetitively.
The truth is we repeat our unconscious patterns, choosing people who represent how we really feel about ourselves. These people deliver the same old hurt we received when we were young, over and over again, and the intensity amplifies until we “get it.”
I really believe the playing it out with somatic narcissists – which I have viewed many people in this Community do – is a call to get out of the way of our own blindness to aesthetics and the surface level truth, such as “I know I like what I like. I am attracted to a certain type and that is it …” and being prepared to give up that self-defeating belief and go deeper.
Because then there will be the liberating awakening to realise that the attraction, which seems SO real, is about woundedness. This is about our unhealed parts screaming out for us to turn inwards to sort them out so that we can become “love-worthy”.
Then you will find that you WILL be attracted in healthy, steady, sane, endearing, connected and real ways to another healthy spirit.
That is what True Love is, and it stands the test of time.
I know there are many of you who have been through this and feel that love never works out for you.
I promise you it will and can when you know how to heal these subconscious patterns that have been taking you away from love and not toward it.
And, regardless of what our painful love pattern with a narcissist has been, I would love to show you how to heal it. I have an upcoming FREE Workshop called The 3 Keys To Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse where I take you through the process of how to find, meet and heal the wounds that have been drawing you into somatic, cerebral or other narcissistic type relationships.
I do hope with all my heart that this deep dive into understanding the somatic narcissist and how somatic narcissistic attraction plays out, as well as how to break free from them, helps you claim your liberation and a life free from toxic relationships.
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