Like it or not, we choose the partners we are with (with exceptions of people in arranged or forced marriages/relationships). Sometimes, we find ourselves attracted to the same type of person, over and over again. If you keep finding yourself with a narcissistic partner, you might wonder why you keep attracting this type of person into your life.
- There are no coincidences. Entering into a relationship with a narcissist once could happen on the basis that you found them attractive and charming—particularly if they’re a grandiose narcissist. We can all be fooled by someone who is manipulative and charismatic. But if you keep finding yourself in relationships with narcissists, something else is going on. It’s not a coincidence. There’s something in you which is driving this behaviour. It could be that you’re repeating patterns from your past or are looking for a need—however self-destructive—to be met. If you’re always ending up at the same point, there’s something in you which is taking you to that point over and over again.
- You experienced narcissistic abuse as a child. Many people who attract narcissistic partners as adults experienced narcissistic abuse as children. When our parent, or parents, teach us that the world is a certain way, our ideas about ourselves and other people are based on that knowledge. If your narcissistic parent taught you, through their words, actions and values, that you needed to act in a certain way to gain their love and attention and if they taught you that you deserved to be ridiculed and manipulated, it’s perfectly understandable that you will choose a partner who reinforces what you have learned to be “true."
- You have low self-esteem. If your self-esteem has been damaged—whether due to your upbringing, previous relationships or other events which have happened to you—you may well be attracted to a narcissist who continues to put down your opinions and engages in other behaviours which signify to you that you’re not good enough just as you are. Low self-esteem can also take you to a place where you’re happy to have a partner who—on the surface, at least—seems to have far more confidence than you and can include you in experiences you couldn’t imagine having by yourself.
- You have codependent tendencies. Do you derive your sense of identity from taking care of other people? If you’re a people pleaser who likes to be indispensable and is happy allowing your significant other to engage in a range of abusive or unacceptable behaviours, you may find that not only are you drawn to narcissists, but they are drawn to you. People with narcissistic tendencies will be able to identify partners who will allow them to be dominant, behave inappropriately, and be the centre of attention. If you have the ability to adore a narcissist while completely ignoring your own needs, they’ll see you as their ideal partner.
- You’re naïve. Narcissists use a range of emotionally manipulative behaviours in their relationships. If you’re not this kind of person and are more naïve in nature, you may simply be drawn into relationships with narcissists because you lack the ability to recognise what they are up to in the early stages. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), for instance, who find it hard to understand underlying motives and manipulation may be drawn to narcissists because they don’t read between the relationship motive lines.
If you find yourself repeatedly drawn to narcissists, and particularly if you experience emotional abuse within these relationships, you should seek help in identifying your relationship patterns and taking control of changing these patterns.