When my boyfriend and I broke up permanently, I thought the meanest thing I could possibly do was to ask him to throw out the naked pictures of me. It finalized the break up (I hadn’t asked him to get rid of them the first time we broke up) and implied “I hate you so much that I don’t get any joy out of thinking about your seeing me naked.” (What could be further from the truth and what could be more insulting from your narcissistic ex-girlfriend?) What I really thought was, “I am so repulsed by you that I see you as a sexual absurdity, and what could be more horrifying than the prospect that the pictures of me might eventually become a sexual absurdity to you?” Eventually he would get another girlfriend, find joy in someone else’s body. It only seemed natural that at some point he would cease to get joy out of seeing my body, except in a nostalgic sense. And I couldn’t stand to think of his looking at pictures of me, disaffected. It made me feel sad for what we once were to each other and worthless that someday I would cease to please him even as a body. I couldn’t bear to think the one-day he would stare at my naked body blankly, deriving no pleasure from me, and I found it imperative that this never happened. So I asked him to get rid of the pictures. But really what I hoped, more than anything, was that he would say he still wanted them, as a keepsake.
From his perspective, I know he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to end things on decent terms and figured this was what I wanted. How could he have thought otherwise? I mean, this kind of thing is commonly expected at the end of a relationship and it is common courtesy to comply. Additionally, from his perspective, how pathetic would he have looked if he just gotten dumped permanently and refused to relinquish pictures of his ex-girlfriend? If he was unwilling to give up even the most detached, superficial, physical manifestations of me, surely he was not ready to let go.
I inquired a week later as to whether he had thrown them out yet. He took it as my encouraging him to clear himself out of my life promptly and thoroughly. But it was intended as a more pathetic gesture, as in, “Are you sure you don’t want to hold on to them?” Rather than, “When are you going to get rid of them?” Panicky, I asked once more when specifically he would throw them out. He figured I was monitoring him, when my gesture could more accurately be described as a desperate plea. He informed me that he wasn’t at his home with the pictures (his parents have two houses), but assured me that when he was there, he would get rid of them—no big deal.
With that, my last glimpse of hope was shattered. I was crushed. I felt rejected by the boy whom I had rejected—the ultimate low. He was so over me, he didn’t even want to hold onto pictures–the last of me that was his. I still have pictures of him and the first time I dumped him I looked at them and cried. I now look through them occasionally and think of what once was. I know it was unfair for me to present it to him in a humiliating way—in a way that implied I didn’t think he was worthy of seeing my naked body—when all I wanted was for him to still want me, on some level, even though I had broken his heart and even though we could not be together.
The only reason I asked him to give up the pictures in the first place was because I couldn’t stand to think of him not taking pleasure in my naked body. My manipulative and allegedly self-serving actions confirmed my worst fear: He did not, in fact, want me even in picture form. Forget not wanting me—he was indifferent! I want to be thrown away with fiery vehemence, not tossed out with the recycling! And thus is the terminal nature of pathological narcissism. I could not express my feelings to him out of fear that it would make me look needy. And so I got nothing. I chose winning over tenderness, vulnerability—the acknowledgment that I still wanted him to find me attractive and that I always wanted to be his, even if only in the form of a nostalgic keepsake. And, therefore, I forfeited in a way befitting for a narcissist—self-defeating in the end. With my ego, I lost his admiration.
I am the epitome of a sexual narcissist: My sexual self-esteem is inordinately high, but exceedingly fragile because sex is so integral to my self-concept.