Why You Attract Narcissists

By JH Simon

After another bruising encounter with a narcissist, a question pops into your mind: “Why do I attract narcissists, and how do I stop attracting them?

To address this age old question, I’ve separated it into two parts. Firstly, I will argue that a certain personality type attracts narcissists. And secondly, I will explain the mindset which will attract a narcissist, one that is based on a compensation response from childhood.

Empaths Attract Narcissists

In my book ‘How To Kill A Narcissist,’ I introduced the idea of highy-sensitive people, and the ways they attract narcissists. The emotional world of an Empath is very rich. They are artists and dreamers. Empaths inspire others with their energy and zest for life. They are healers, and usually very creative and spiritual. Above all, they can brighten up a person’s day just by being themselves. Yet this richness comes with a cost:

  • Empaths crave love and connection more than most people, and they suffer when isolated. As a result of this deep need for emotional connection, their boundaries are usually weak.
  • The emotional buttons of an Empath are easier to push than those of Non-Empaths. Because they have a super sensitive emotional antenna, even the smallest attack can shake them up. When somebody else shows intense emotion, whether it be anger, sadness or outrage, the Empath feels like they are being engulfed and bombarded. With that, their immune system drops and their anxiety increases.
  • They often feel fatigued, just by being around people. They get sick more easily. They are often nervous and afraid. It has nothing to do with strength; inside their body and mind, they are simply overwhelmed with fear, shame and anxiety. This deafening, blinding emotional system makes it hard to see out into the world.
  • Empaths must have structure at all times. They need an environment which insulates them so that emotions don’t get out of hand.

For all of the above reasons, Empaths attract narcissists like the plague. Their inner beauty, weak boundaries, compromised internal strength and strong need for connection make them a gold mine of narcissistic supply. To get the upper hand, the narcissist only has to bombard the emotional system of the Empath and then coerce the Empath into cooperating with their demands. But there’s more.

The Mindset Which Attracts Narcissists

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There is one core mindset which attracts narcissists, and that is hidden grandiosity.

During the love-bombing phase, the narcissist sells you a fantasy. Rather than reject this blatant manipulation, you lapped it up. But why? Could it be that you keep attracting narcissists because you crave the fantasy? We all want the perfect, sexy partner, and by extension, the perfect, happy home. We especially pine for this reality if we were deprived of goodness in our lives. Coming from a dysfunctional home makes you want a perfect happy home as compensation. Having an emotionally absent parent makes you want an attuned, loving partner. We forget that in reality, all people are wounded and imperfect, and forming and maintaining relationships is hard work. Each person has individual desires, beliefs and behaviours which will clash with yours. Relationship has phases of constant tension and pain, followed by routine and boredom. It’s not all rainbows. Can you handle that? Truly? If not, then you will keep attracting narcissists.

Any friction resonates with the pain of your past, and you pull away from it. Those who exhibit shame and imperfection get brushed away, while narcisists slide right through our defences, bonding with us without friction. When a narcissist arrives, you see the beginning of a perfect union, which you hope will lead to a happy home. The narcissist sells you this because they too will tolerate only perfection. Anything less will activate their anger, frustration and rage.

The narcissist sees themselves as perfect, and because they are so self-centred, see anyone attached to them as an extension of themselves. They will never accept that they are limited or flawed, so as reality eventually bites and imperfections in the relationship arise, they will lash out at you. You did this wrong, or that wrong. You feel like you are always striving for a higher bar, and the bar keeps rising as you get more and more exhausted.

But why do you put up with this? Because you are running away from something. By striving for the perfect relationship, you are denying that your past was extremely painful and flawed. Most importantly, you are denying the fact that the future will also contain flaws. Normal people who show imperfection are unsettling to us, because their imperfections show that they could let us down or leave us. They connect us with our shame, and our shame has proven to be painful and irredeemable. Life can feel bleak when it is realistic and ‘normal.’ By denying that, we are harbouring hidden grandiosity. Normal will never fly for us. And so we keep attracting narcissists — the very people who will feed our hidden grandiosity.

Those who have healthy shame and realistic ambition never attract narcissists. They laugh in the face of the narcissist’s love bombing, easily seeing how detached from reality the narcissist is. So why do we keep attracting narcissists? Why do we take the bait? Because we want the fantasy. Reality is pain. To dwell in reality is to see that the world isn’t as wonderful as we hope it is. Coming into reality reveals our hidden toxic shame. It shows our shortcomings and broken dreams. It shows us all the things ‘wrong’ with our life. We need an escape.

Enter the narcissist.

Dare to be normal, and you will stop attracting narcissistic abuse. You will stop attracting narcissists full stop. Let the fantasy of perfection go, and embrace your wounded, imperfect self, warts and all. Accept what you are and where you are, and work through your True Self to form a brighter future. There is no perfect future, and nobody can deliver a perfect future. This is a hard pill to swallow, but there is no other way. Expose your hidden grandiosity, and wave it goodbye. Then and only then will you stop attracting narcissists and kiss the hell they bring goodbye forever.

Part two of this article describes in detail how you can stop attracting narcissists. Part three, written by Transformational Coach Katinka Noack, will then go into how you can attract the right relationship instead.

To begin your recovery from narcissistic abuse and heal from a narcissistic relationship, you can also check out my book, How To Kill A Narcissist. In the follow-up, How To Bury A Narcissist, I delve deeper into the narcissistic family and Self-actualising after narcissistic abuse. If you need support in cultivating healthy, empowered relationships, then Transformational Life Coaching might also be helpful.

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Further reading