Understanding the Narcissist's Madonna-Whore Complex

Narcissists have intimacy issues and cannot see their partner in a healthy way. They are unable to see what most men dream of in a woman — someone who is both sweet and sexy at the same time. They cannot help categorizing people into one of two separate categories — saintly or sexy. They find it impossible to see someone as both. To them, someone is one or the other, but never both. This is what psychologists refer to as a Madonna-Whore Complex.

For example, if a woman is sweet and nice, the narcissist classifies her as a Madonna. If she treats him badly, she is defined as a Whore. A Madonna is sexless. A Whore turns a narcissist on like nothing else. This is why the book "Why Men Love Bitches" is such a huge bestseller.

In the beginning of a relationship, every woman is sexy to a narcissist because the thrill of the chase makes her enticing. The harder to get she plays, the sexier she becomes. However, once she has been conquered by the narcissist, she slowly loses her desirability. The more comfortable the relationship becomes and the more caring she becomes, the less enticing she is to him sexually. She loses her sex appeal and becomes a saintly Madonna figure.

A Madonna fulfills a narcissist’s need to be catered to like a child. A Whore fulfills his adult sexual needs. A Whore is the type of woman that turns a narcissist on. A Madonna is completely sexless. Over time, any woman who is good and caring to a narcissist will inevitably become sexless.

In an interview for Playboy, John Mayer said he would rather masturbate by himself than be with a real woman. In my opinion, this man is a perfect example of a raging narcissist who has significant Madonna-Whore issues.

I believe the easy and instant access teenagers have to pornography today contributes to the development of a Madonna-Whore Complex. When a teenager is repeatedly exposed to pornography, it can skew their understanding of intimacy.

Instead of learning that sex is something you save for someone you love, pornography teaches young men that sex is not sacred. It teaches them that sex need not be reserved for only the one you love. Many teens today are learning about sex and love through pornography. As a result, they see the two as mutually exclusive.

Just like the narcissist, they begin to view love as sexless, pure, and saintly; whereas sex is dirty and reserved for Whores. I believe this is one example of how modern society contributes to the increase of narcissism in our society.

If you are good to a narcissist, he eventually withdraws sexually from any type of intimate relationship you once had with him. It is inevitable in any long-term relationship with a narcissist. You become sexless.

Whether they revert to pornography or begin sleeping with others, the narcissist will always perceive the object of his sexual desire as dirty because that is the only thing that turns him on. A woman who is kind, sweet, and giving will always be viewed as a saintly, sexless Madonna to the narcissist.

He still needs you, no doubt. However, this is only because he needs you to cater to his child-like needs. He needs you to ensure that someone will always be present to validate him, should the outside world fall short of his expectations.

Bottomline, narcissists are incapable of real intimacy. Don't let them drag you down into their disconnected world. You deserve so much more and owe it to yourself to break free.

Sep 25 - 11AM
Narcphobia's picture

Makes sense...

Jul 3 - 4AM
boubou29's picture


Sep 25 - 1PM (Reply to #13)
talktothehand's picture


Jul 10 - 9PM
transcend's picture



May 18 - 6AM
Kitty84's picture

This post has been not only

Feb 26 - 5AM
Hidden Waters
Hidden Waters's picture

Narcissists and Older Adult Virgins?

My ex-N is now with a woman who is 35 and a virgin...and when I mean virgin, I mean in every sense of the word. She's religious and has saved herself for a long time. This woman has only kissed one another man in her life and that was a couple of times (according to some journal entries of hers online (public ones), she's never participated in oral sex, as far as I know, seen a penis in person up front in a connection. The "seen a penis up front" could be different now since she's with my ex-N and she might have seen him on webcam or in person recently (they are in a long distance relationship), but when I did find out about her, I found out about these details. She likes to coin herself "snow white," due to her lack of experiences, sexually. What are your views on how narcs respond to virgins, especially older ones? Do they treat these women any differently? Will they value these women more than a woman who isn't a virgin? Once he manages to get this woman to sleep with him, will he lose interest? What kind of impression does a virgin make on a narcissist, usually?
Feb 28 - 3AM (Reply to #9)
greengirl91's picture

May I tell you my opinion

May I tell you my opinion about this, Hidden Waters? I think he will treat her exactly the same, as any other woman who has even crossed his path. Even worse. You know why? Because knowing he will not use her as sexually, he will use her emotionally, really, really bad. You should read any other story of women who were married, and became these guys`s wives. It`s all the same story, with different puppets. Because "the Master" remains the same. It really does not matter, that is what the article tries to explain also, because it is not from you, whether you are one or the other, it is from THEM, to them, love and sex are separate, with separate people. Because they cannot "make love" with someone they do love, without always having someone "on the side". Or many.
Feb 23 - 4PM
repressed memory
repressed memory's picture

I love the quote for the

I love the quote for the "good" and the "naughty" and being "fully evolved." Touche!! HIP HIP Hooray! Isn't that what its all about- Being with a good girl, someone who loves you inside and outside and likes to get naughty once in while between the sheets! That's what makes successful relationships. In monogamous relationships chemistry, sex and mutual attraction is essential or the relationship can not sustain itself.
Feb 23 - 2AM
HadEnough80's picture

Makes sense now!

Thank you so much for explaining this! It used to drive me crazy and I never could understand what was happeing! My exN husband would be furious with me if I tried to be creaitive or dress up for him in our intimate life. He wanted to keep the madonna image of me, and would ridicule me and say I shouldn't be dressing like that, and that is inappropriate for a well respected woman like myself. It frustrated me like hell, but went with whatever he want as usual, just to avoid further conflict like I did with all our issues. I appreciate this knowledge! Thank you
Feb 22 - 7PM
sexy72's picture

I think I was both to my Ex Narc....Is that possible?

After reading both your blog on this Lisa and the link you had in it, I think I was both to my Ex Narc! Is this possible with a Narc? I am the beauty and the brains girl with a double Masters Degree and he is a Chiropractor, who is five years older than me. I have had a crush on him since I was in grade school, but I just met him two years ago when I was 38 and he was 43. He has never been married and has no children. He has been with his girlfriend on and off (so he says) for about 17 years now and at the time he met me he told me it was like 11 years on and off and it wasn't going good and he was going to have her move out. He told me that night that she wasn't "The One" after I asked why he has never married her. He is still a very goregous man with thick medium blonde hair and sparkling baby blue eyes, he knows he is good looking too! We hit it off immediately and he got my number after we talked and hung out for five or six hours and ignored all the people each of us were in town with. He contacted me at 8 a.m. that Monday morning via email and worked on me to go out with him later that month, after I returned from a vacation. I had a bad feeling about him right away in my gut, the day after our first date, but I ignored it because he was my dream guy, my JFK Jr. my entire life! He turned into a jerk on the second date, and we didn't see eachother for six months after that, but he kept me on "the hook" because he knew I had had a crush on him since I was a kid. Then we went out again, and to be honest he made me feel like a hooker and I had drove 2 1/2 hours to visit him... but he had me hooked. I finally pushed him to make a choice about six weeks later. He said he and his girlfriend were going to try to work it out one last time. One month later he and I were talking again and a month after that we were seeing eachother again all the time! He told me, "you always knew we belonged together, why couldn't I see it? But now I do!" He was a new person! He contacted me all the time and made plans and kept them the majority of the time. We got very close, or close for him, not close the way I did in other relationships I have had. He wined and dined me in his home town and didn't hide me at all and in really nice resturants. He didn't bring up his girlfriend often, except to say that it wasn't going to work and that she had gained a lot of weight and that wasn't who he wanted to be seen with. She is an RN and Department Clinical Director at a large regional hospital. However she isn't the look he is going for these days I guess. She and I are the same age, and I finally saw a picture of her after we broke up and she looks at least ten years older than I do. I was very surprised by her looks. I think the stress of being with him has aged her terribly and he is why she has put on all the extra weight. I think she is his Madonna, but he didn't want to be seen with her anymore... at all and I was suppose to be his Sexy Freak, but then he found out I was both, because I am a Mom too and I talk about my daughter a lot. He told me after we ended things the first time that he had thought of me as being the mother of his children, and his girlfried couldn't have kids, and he wanted them still. After we started seeing eachother the last time he brought up the child thing quite often. Yet I was still his Sexy and Classy girl on the side, with a brain and a good family so he would go anywhere with me and tell me he would never be embarassed to be seen with me. I figured out that me having the strong family background like his girlfriend, and I cook and bake and am a very hands on Mom seemed to appeal to him. Yet I travel and go out and have a lot of fun too. So this is what he tried to start changing with me. He started judging me from a distance if I went out and said something about it. So I started adjusting my life around him and he knew it! He was getting control of me and moulding me into more of the Madonna girl and anytime I wasn't that way he would get upset with me and give me the silent treatment. One night I didn't conform perfectly to his plans and he said I embarassed him infront of his friends (obnoxious vulgar people who think they are something) because I had a couple drinks was giggley... he turned into a complete monster instantly! We drove to his friends house, where he was staying and he accused me of texting a guy while we were driving and I didn't text anyone. He was cold as ice, I started to cry and cry and he eventually pretended to be compassionate and calm me down. We joined his friend in the hot tub and everything seemed fine. We went to bed and it was like nothing was wrong. The next day he drove me to my Jeep and broke up with me as he dropped me off, but didn't say it like that. He started twisting my words and degrading me. He was a completely different person once again! He was on a roller coaster and dragging me on it! I have never seen him again. We almost got back together a few times over the following month. He played game after game and I noticed I didn't feel sad anymore. He called me at work one Friday, and I could tell he got jealous when I said I was going to the season opener Pro Football game that weekend. I do this most Sundays during the football season, before it was cool that I did, but this time he wrote me an email while I was at work ending it again. A week later his old girlfriend from high school (about 30 years ago), who was recently divorced and I knew he talked with sometimes, came up to me at a benefit and told me she was having sex with him, she didn't say it as PC as I just typed or very nice. She is a Narc herself and she looks terrible becaue she has led a party life. He would tell me that all her drinking and smoking had taken a toll on her and she was rough! I guess not to rough it turns out! This is why I think I turned into being more of the Madonna type to him, but at first he thought I was just going to be the Sexy Freak type to him. Thoughts? Sorry so long, but I have never told my story on here yet, it's way longer and a bigger roller coaster than this and I haven't wanted to give it my energy! We broke up the middle of August, and I knew I would never take him back after the Ex told me about their hook up or hook ups the end of September, I think they may have happened when I was with him too. I will be one month NO CONTACT with him tomorrow, because I didn't answer his last degrading email! Another long story! But Yay for me!!!! lol
Feb 22 - 7AM
greengirl91's picture

Much love to you Lisa!! >:D<

Much love to you Lisa!! >:D
Feb 20 - 9PM
Armed's picture

Don't they switch your roles

Don't they switch your roles during idealization and devaluation? Sometimes mine would treat me very well then other days he'd call me a bitch from hell.
Feb 20 - 10PM (Reply to #1)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


Yes, you're right Armed. They are very Jekkyl & Hyde and can quickly swing from extreme highs to extreme lows.....one moment you are cherished and adored, the next you are hardly tolerated.. the rollercoaster, the crazy-making behavior, they exhibit it all! It's maddening, to say the least, but once you understand it and know what to expect, it helps you start to recognize, disengage and eventually deprogram from the hold they have over you.
Feb 22 - 7PM (Reply to #3)
sexy72's picture

Right On!!!!

That is exactly what I dealt with all the time! I didn't realize it at first, but looking back, it was all the time!
Feb 21 - 4PM (Reply to #2)
SundaySmile's picture

B&W thinking

Lisa is that the black and white all or nothing type of thinking often described in patho narc? Also I was wondering if that would explain the fast disconnect right after sex and subsequent denial when she asks him about it. For example - and I recognize N runs along a continuum - a man (in this ex) starts yawning and talking about being so tired and that she wore him out. He has to get up early. Cannot sleep with anyone and never has been able to. Gets up. Showers to wash off his junk without inviting her. The one who could not wait to strip off his clothes then puts them on completely covering himself...and then walks her to the door at best. But not to her car shortly after and it is past midnight. Never mind. I think I just answered it. :)