The Narcissist’s Secret Playground – Burning Man

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*Warning* – Do not read this article if you are faint of heart regarding topics of a sexual nature

I almost didn’t write this article…mainly because I didn’t want to give any ideas to the followers I have who are themselves narcissists…who follow my blog because they discovered their partner does, and so they monitor my site in an attempt to stay ahead of the game.

But, I decided I’d be doing more good than harm by informing all of my followers about the latest narcissistic craze.

Burning Man.

Now, I’m not saying that every person who attends this event is a narcissist, because there is a cultural and spiritual element to it…many lives have been changed because of Burning Man.  I’ve communicated with people directly who told me how Burning Man was a turning point for them.  Indeed, for the truly spiritual person, Burning Man is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  People even take their children there.

But, culture and spirituality are not what the narcissist is seeking when he or she buys their ticket. This may be difficult to discern, especially if you’re involved with a pseudo-spiritual narcissist.  (Yes, they have infiltrated affinity groups quite intricately).

Unless you are into open relationships and the likelihood of your narcissistic partner having sex with multiple people while attending this event, you may be scarred for life.  It’s definitely not something Empathic, Introverted HSPs can take lightly.

Seriously, if you’re at all sensitive or have high standards around monogamy and the narcissist in your life has mentioned this event to you – even casually – you should seriously consider that there may be a critical compatibility issue in the relationship which will result in your being traumatized for months.

The Good

Burning Man promotes academics and being green.  Their mission statement is:

A temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome.

And that’s precisely what the festival represents for most people who attend.  Indeed, it’s a beautiful platform for self-connectedness – for the right people.

But, there’s a different element to the event that’s not fully described on the site.  While there is mention of sexual “adventure”, what they don’t really reveal is just how shocking the sexual aspect of the event can be.  

Burning Man doesn’t coordinate the sexual activities available there, but allows shop owners to establish various “sex tents” on-site.

So, what ‘s the great attraction to Burning Man as it pertains to the narcissist?  I did some research on the subject since it’s become a recurring struggle among many of my coaching clients whose partners have been there or are making plans to attend.

I’ll give it to you straight–so you can compare notes in the event your partner may be planning to reserve their spot (or you discover their intentions without their telling you) – and it’s not because they want to check out the creative art.

The Low-Down

The media images available on the internet make Burning Man appear as a modern-day Woodstock.  Many describe it as the ultimate self-image healing experience–which makes it unfortunate that so many of my clients have been traumatized by the event based on the reasons their toxic partners have gone there.

Following is a sampling of why the narcissist wants to go to Burning Man, which is held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada:

  • Threesomes
  • Partner Swapping
  • Classes on sadomasochism
  • Tantric sex workshops
  • Oral sex contests
  • Women and men walking around naked or in lingerie


…and these activities are vanilla in nature compared to other things I discovered that I can’t write about here.

This year’s festival will be held Sun, Aug 30, 2020 – Mon, Sep 7, 2020, you know…in case your partner suddenly wants to go on a trip and “bond with the guys” or go “camping” with her girlfriends.  Keep in mind that this aspect of the festival is not openly promoted.  In fact, from what I’ve been told, you have to actively look for it.  

This particular element of the event might be kosher for individuals of an adventurous spirit, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Many eager folks who considered themselves as being in open relationships – believing they’d be accepting of the whole Burning Man experience – ended up parting ways after attending.

I can definitely say after having worked with clients whose partners attended the festival, it was one of the most traumatic experiences for them in regards to the betrayal they endured in their relationships.

For those of you who are in this predicament and are afraid that disagreeing with your partner’s going to Burning Man makes you an old-fashioned, close-minded prude, that’s simply not the case.  All parties in relationships are entitled to deal-breakers.

It’s one thing to agree with your partner going on a week-long fishing trip with the bros, but another entirely to give them the green-light to attend Burning Man.

As for the school of thought that states, “we’re two separate entities that love and respect each other. All healthy relationships should be based on being two independent people choosing to come together and stay together out of friendship and love, not obligation.”—well, if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, this mindset doesn’t apply given the nature of lies and concealment that narcissists engage in.  Even polyamorous people have guidelines in their relationships.  The true polyamorist makes their partners feel emotionally safe.  Therefore, if your partner claims to be polyamorous and makes you feel bad about it, they’re just a garden-variety, narcissistic cheater.

Narcissism aside, healthy relationship guidelines don’t include feeling obligated to allow your significant other to go into the middle of the desert with naked people.  Where drugs, an all-inclusive menu of sexual choices, and willing playmates are available in secret corners.

If you’re not okay with it, you have the right to say so.  Allow the other person to make their decision, and if they choose to go after knowing how upsetting it would be to you, then you have the right to end the relationship. 

You wouldn’t need to present this as an ultimatum.  Simply pack your things and hit the road…

How To Prepare Ahead of Time for the Narcissist’s Trip to Burning Man

Join the Free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap and Email Mini-Course and learn:

  1. The real reason why you can’t seem to move forward 
  2. How to finally stop sabotaging yourself
  3. How to start becoming emotionally independent 

Just click the button below to join:


If you’re ready to break free and get started on the stages of healing after narcissistic abuse NOW, there’s only ONE way to do it: Let me show you how to forget the narcissist and move on.

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Anonymous Man says March 27, 2020

Thank you for this article. I’ve heard of Burning Man, but never knew it was the nightmare you described it to be. Me and mine will NEVER go to that thing, and if by some sad fate, I’m ever single again, I will NEVER deal with a woman who as been to that thing or ever go myself. It sounds like a great way to get STDs and Hepatitis to me.

mcblondie says February 22, 2020

Mine uses three renaissance faire and his current wife acts totally fine with women fawning over him, likes he’s her trophy. I’m sure that’s not true and she’s in denial or in the dark.

Melinda says February 13, 2020


Elizabeth Vega says August 30, 2019

In God’s eyes, burning man festival is nothing but sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, wicked, evil and about paganism which God Hates.
Read Revelation 22:11,12,13 and listen seriously to God’s Warnings. But for those who don’t believe➕? God or knew God but don’t Follow God’s Commands…. ➕?God’s Wrath to all who continue to sin and live unholy life will answer to God.
➕?Praying for all those who are lost and blind. So many people DIE EVERYDAY and➕? Repent now before it’s too late.
Our children are CONFUSE and SUFFERING from all these wickedness and disobedience to God…..and whoever is reading this, may God’s Holy Spirit be with you.➕?

Never going to Burning Man again says August 21, 2019

My husband and I went to Burning Man together in 1996. It was fun. It was small (5K people) and we had a good time. Then in 2011, my husband met some people who attend every year and decided to go with them. I’ve stayed home with two kids while my husband has gone to Burning Man for up to two weeks at time. It’s now 2019 and every year since, he’s missed our anniversary — Our 25th is coming up next week and he’ll be in the middle of the desert. He had a longtime affair with a woman (slut) who is half his age (27) and it basically destroyed our marriage. He is a narcissist through and through. Has multiple sexual disfunction issues and yet seems to find someone to use his Viagra with in the middle of the hot, dry desert. Ladies, heed this warning and DO NOT let your spouse or boyfriend go to Burning Man without you!!! He’s moving out when he gets back next week. A lovely way to celebrate 25 years and a guaranteed lifetime of therapy for our kids. DON’T DO IT! Just DON’t GO!!

Manu chao says September 18, 2018

Singles go to bars and nightclubs to hook up. Same way in a festival like that. The question is should couples allow their partners in environments like nightclubs, Vegas, or massive festivals? Most men cheat and they do it anyware they can. Monogamous couples don’t share each other. U should know what kind of relationship u have. Or ask your partner his or her preferences before commiting into a relationship. Bars, nightclubs, Vegas etc. Its not the issue. Its about leaving clear with your partner what relationship you want. I wouldn’t take the I love to a obscene place nor be ok with her going to a obscene place. Nor expect her to be ok with me in a obscene place. U see its all about communication with your partner, Peace out!

Leslie katzenmeier says August 17, 2018

From what I see with Burning Man , It is a Narcissists paradise where everyone dresses up is barely there clothing , advertising their fleshly goods and focusing on healing all their imaginary wounds- ones you gave them in the made up story of their horrible childhood.

Perversion is an art form ( ie games available from my daughter’s camp like “ The Whore Shoe toss “ horseshoe”) and women obsess over 7 days of expensive costumes they claim make THEM THE ART-

Narcissists cannot stand viewing other people’s art- they must be the LOOK AT ME – LOOK AT ME PIECE OF ART-

It’s all about being the object that is worshipped.

Intense and obsessive dieting and planning goes into the costume aspect of preparation .

Then there is this “ Spirituality “ and Finding ones SELF .Somehow this festival is supposed to give individual Epiphanies to the mushroom fueled goers.

They suddenly get what college and hard work can’t – a life’s direction .

This will be my daughter’s fourth year. She took a waitress job last minute , to be able to find this.

Otherwise , she’s in endless therapy, occasionally out using sex to land a man who will support her and binge drinking to the point of vomiting.

She has a degree in Communications from UC Berkeley.

They are all into psycadelics , music and self worship- It’s like High School on steroids.

The ironic thing in my daughters case is her mantra only during this outdoor survival test festival is RADICAL SELF SUFFICIENCY –

I wish some of that came home with her each year when she cannot miss one Burn to get a career rolling .

Basically the rest of the year is spent pretending to look for a career job. Shes 30 in September – living at home

avesraggiana says July 2, 2018

I should have known. My ex-boyfriend narcissist was a YUUUUUGE “Burner” as they call themselves. When I met him, he had already attended on two previous occasions, and the way he made it sound, going to this yearly festival would be a pilgrimage he would make every year for the rest of his life.

I don’t know if he would have or could have gotten into the whole sex orgy thing but truthfully, I wouldn’t have cared that much if he did.

The moment my ex described to me what Burning Man was all about, I took an instant dislike to it. The very idea of bartering, cash-less trading, dressing up in costume, being at one with all humanity without your regular trappings, free from your usual everyday roles, the opportunity to discard every notion you ever had about yourself and find yourself again, blah, blah, blah…just seemed too precious and too pretentious to me.

In my life experience, you don’t need to spend one week on a dry and dusty and windy desert lake bed with 50,000 other people who are just as encrusted in dust and body odour as you are, under some contrived device to, “Discover who you really are.” I sniffed out right away the wrongness of the premise of Burning Man, it just smacked of so much pretentious bullshit. That’s why I hated the idea of Burning Man from the moment I heard about it.

This blog post brought back some old memories, Kim. Memories that don’t hurt anymore or bring back any kind of emotional reaction. What this blog post of yours has done is reminded me how supremely lucky I was to get, “the Hell out of there,” break up with that narcissist jerk, and be rid of him.

I dodged a big one.

Thanks for your eye opening, self confirming, and life affirming blog post.

Sandy says July 2, 2018

A complete abomination unto the Lord, no doubt about that.

Nancy says July 2, 2018

I had never heard of this event so I quickly checked their website and my eyes caught the word “radical” mentioned several times in what they call “The 10 principles”. Why radical??? Already I don’t believe in this bull****. Spirituality has nothing to do with radicality. It’s alot of pretending. Sounds more like a big party. And like someone else mentioned here, it’s much better to be alone in the desert to experience REAL spirituality.

Mrs G D Perry says July 1, 2018

Looks like my idea of hell and wouldn’t go near the place with or without the ex-narc. I’m sure he would love it however. Sex was fortunately one of the strongest boundaries I have. I’ve seen these sex maniacs as they age, never seen such unhappy people. Gross. Everything beautiful is turned into trash with narcs

Ring says June 24, 2017

First person who came to mind when I saw this email was Charles Manson.

No doubt these people will be showing up at the “free clinic” too.

‘Nuff said.

MARZENA says June 21, 2017

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I got so used to people being openly promiscuous, involved in open relationships and being polyamorous, that a monogamy or the sacredness of relationship, feel like foolish relicts from a time gone by. I got so burned by narcs several times in a row (husband of 20 years, bf of 5, and two other flings), that my heart it totally shot down to the possibility of ever trusting a man again. I wouldn’t even know how to make the first step in this direction. I know that it’s probably not true, but I see all man as sleazy now, especially the good looking ones.

I personally know people who went to the Burning Man. My last BF (a narc), chatted about them with a great excitement. Now I understand why…

On another note, The Burning Man is not the only place where the narcs flock looking for lightworkers. I met mine at the …. Law Of Attraction Seminar! He since infiltrated several local Law Of Attraction Meetup groups, meditation assemblies and retreats – all the while swearing to me that I was the only one…

You were right in your warning, Kim, that the article and the comments are not for the faint in heart. Call me a dinosaur, they made me sick to my stomach….

    Cat says May 6, 2018

    Wow. I tend to stay far away from Burning Man crowds after going to many regional events and parties, but never getting to BM at all. Over the years, too many of the people have impressed me as entirely narcissistic or even sociopathic and overly into this over-sexed persona that is a bit like mass hysteria to me.

    Leslie Katzenmeier says August 17, 2018

    Great Point. you said Narcs flock there looking for “ Lightworkers”

    Most of the Lightworker types would be Wounded Empaths ( Co- Dependant types ) which from all I have read are perfect Narcissists supply

Anonymous says June 20, 2017

I am in shock this covert NARC I met went to BM I was upset but now I know everything I needed to know…and I feel worse…

Annie O. Rachid says May 1, 2016

With a narc, or possible sociopath there IS-or could be-a very real threat of sexual coercion. This is goes from being very unlikely in a one on one shared sexual relationship, to almost certainly likely in the event of group, or mob sexual environments. Add to that altered states of consciousness, and the odds are very high that one could be traumatized for life. I’ve never been to Burning Man, but there are other similar groups all over the world, with the same recipe for sociopath sexual abuse. They will suck your energy dry, and then your stuck with all of the twisted memories. Consent is above all else, it has to be certain, and to not have direct and complete sexual consent is either coercion or assault–even if it is not physically violent, or physically obvious, it is still forced sexual consent.

rmdoherty says April 29, 2016

I am seriously disturbed when reading about these narcissistic jerks that think they are gods gift to humanity. I do recall my ex talking about wanting to go to Burning Man with his twin Brother and my ex sister-in-law. Of course he was always making these grandiose plans (Like he time he and his bother decided that they would be the Tupperware Twins delivering parties in only kitchen aprons). Anyway, he begged me to participate in group sex, including with my brother and sister in-law. Part of his excuse for exercising his sexual addiction was the fact that I would not cross certain lines. He forced me to cross other lines but nobody was around for me to consent to. I feel for all of you that have had a narc in your life, I want to say that everything will be OK once we leave and that time heals but the truth is that we will never be the same again. At least we now know that we are not alone and that we are indeed sane after-all.

Kim Saeed says April 25, 2016

A truly beautiful comment, Noelle <3

Kay says April 23, 2016

My ex started to date a new woman. He would call and tell me about how they swing and how happy he is with her. That he has never experienced such a love before etc etc

    susanbotchie says April 25, 2016

    Dear Kay, think the love bombing will outlast the other woman’s money?

    [email protected] says June 21, 2017

    Kay – just give them time. She will be missing a half of her brain soon and looking for a shrink, You just watch.

Jamie says April 22, 2016

You are talking about a very small subset of the burning man population. I’ve been 14 times. This is a place of great healing acceptance and inclusion and love. It has healed so so many souls.

    susanbotchie says April 24, 2016

    Dear Jamie, sounds pagan. As for the “small subset”, take a tall glass of water and mix 1/8th of a teaspoon of your neighbor’s snot…enjoy 😉

      Erin says June 20, 2017

      susanbotchie, there isn’t anything wrong with being pagan. Are you suggesting that an activity or event is inherently suspect due to being religious in nature?

      As for swinging, tantra, and bdsm, they are personal lifestyle choices which can be safely pursued with consenting adults, and is a small part of the mainstream population as well, not at all pagan-specific. These are all arenas in which narcs can manipulate and coerce unsuspecting victims, which may or may not be pagan in nature, and in most cases in society, are not. Paganism is irrelevant to the concerns expressed by this article.

      Marzena says June 21, 2017

      Susanbotchie – The snot drink is a brilliant idea. Couldn’t agree more. Yes, Dear Jamie, enjoy it.

    Lisa McCue says April 27, 2016

    My Narc went to Burning Man as his final blow to me during a discard. It was the single worst emotional trauma I have ever experienced, including losing both of my parents, divorce, etc. As a 55 year old, he came back with videos of a naked- blond- 20 yr old girl – stoned off her ass dancing to bohemian music… and he actually stood there for 10 mins and recorded it. He also wanted me to sign a ‘cock – sucking covenant ‘ with him when he got back. He thought “I would think it was funny? and meaningful”. I literally was on the verge of a nervous breakdown while he was there.

    With that said, can you tell me if is it possible for someone to go there and be immersed in all of it and not have any kind of sexual encounter?

      Kim Saeed says April 27, 2016

      Hi Lisa…thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry you had to endure that…

      Regarding your question, Burning Man offers so many different things. Some of my followers have friends that have gone to BM for years and never knew about the sexual element.

      It all depends on one’s intention when they go. I would imagine that those who go for the sexual aspect of the event would likely do so with the intent of exploring the different things available there in that regard – Narcissists being of that ilk, for sure.

        June says July 1, 2018

        I respect the desert too much than to ever have gone to urging man. The hot springs are ruined and closed and the remnants of thousands of people? I spent many a time entirely alone in the desert, way out there, which was more of a spiritual experience than you could ever imagine. I don’t need gobs of people for that. I remember when the first burning man was to occur there and how disappointed I was that they would have such a festival out there. Not my kind of thing.

          Kim Saeed says July 1, 2018

          Wow, that sounds perfect…being in the desert alone. I’m glad you have fond memories of that.

          Kim XoXo

      Anonymous says May 14, 2016

      Wow. speechless. where have you been dear Kim Saeed?? My life for the past 2.5 years resonantes with nearly everything you say here and having only coming to terms and the realization I am in fact NOT crazy, as one narc (and sadly the baby daddy) continually pointed out, but literally was driven crazy and as if he hadn’t put me through enough hell to last 1000 lifetimes he was recently appointed 50/50 custody of my daughter he had zero time for until playing victim in the family court. @Lisa McCue this man I knew over 12 years who was the kindest soul and treated me like a queen until he didn’t anymore chose to attend BM not only for our daughter’s first bday, but her 2nd as well. The very bday I was finishing packing our home due to the loss of my job having been overwhelmed, stressed and distraught from our ‘final break up’ and then finding out he slept with a woman i repeatedly stated made me very uneasy. Even addressed her prior to this encounter and they still made the decision to have a little fling until he moved on to the next one that lasted over a year and even though I asked him to be truthful about his love life he would promise there was nobody and that I was “paranoid, fabricated ridiculous ideas and had mental issues”. I began to of course feel pretty crazy and Kim thank you for expressing info regarding psychic hoovering, energy vamps and cutting cords – I find it often difficult to carry on such a conversation bc very few people grasp this understanding or pretend to know while running off mid sentence haha. THANK U for this site and everyone for your comments too!

        Kim Saeed says May 14, 2016

        Hi Someone…I’m very happy to know my article and site have given you a little boost of validation! Thank you for sharing your story and I’m happy to know you’re out of that misery!


    Lisa says April 27, 2016

    @ Jamie ….My Narc went to Burning Man as his final blow to me during a discard. It was the single worst emotional trauma I have ever experienced, including losing both of my parents, divorce, etc. As a 55 year old, he came back with videos of a naked- blond- 20 yr old girl – stoned off her ass dancing to bohemian music… and he actually stood there for 10 mins and recorded it. He also wanted me to sign a ‘cock – sucking covenant ‘ with him when he got back. He thought “I would think it was funny? and meaningful”. I literally was on the verge of a nervous breakdown while he was there.

    With that said, can you tell me if is it possible for someone to go there and be immersed in all of it and not have any kind of sexual encounter?

      Maria says June 20, 2017

      Don’t worry about that the one that I met went for that purpose let’s face they are perturbs and that they only are trying to escape from themselves …no real lives …

    Maria says June 20, 2017

    What’s exactly what you healed?

yearlonguturn says April 22, 2016

Had no idea. Cool share.

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