Do You Have a Pattern of Being Drawn to Narcissists?

How to end unhealthy attractions to self-absorbed people.

Posted Feb 21, 2021 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

Makc/Shutterstock
Source: Makc/Shutterstock

Have you found yourself more than once drawn to narcissists, only to regret it? Do you have a number of narcissistic people in your life?

If so, it is important to figure out why.

Many narcissists can initially seem charming, entertaining, even seductive. When you first meet them and they turn their focus on you, you may feel like the most important person in the room. Such experiences can be compelling.

Yet it's often only a matter of time until narcissists' darker sides emerge. Their charm turns to control. Their entertaining turns to demanding self-centeredness. Their seductiveness hides their lack of ability for real intimacy.

The feeling of being the only other person in the room becomes fleeting, as a narcissist's attentiveness washes in and out like the tide.

For some of us, the draw of narcissists may go deep. When we knowingly or unconsciously allow a narcissistic person to get close, it may reflect an attempt to make up for what we didn’t get years earlier from a narcissistic parent or lover.

Such longing to right the wrongs of the past is understandable. But relationships with narcissists are frequently disappointing and time-wasting because narcissists care little about treating others well.

Sometimes we unwittingly pursue relationships with narcissists because it postpones facing a heartbreaking recognition:

Your narcissistic parent or another important person in your life wasn’t there for you, couldn’t be there for you, and will likely never be there for you.

While it may take time, accepting and mourning that painful reality can allow you to focus on what is best for you so that you can pick healthier people.

NaughtyNut/Shutterstock
Source: NaughtyNut/Shutterstock

If you feel unfulfilled in a relationship and wonder if a friend or partner is a narcissist, ask yourself:

  1. Why am I with them?
  2. Does this relationship remind me of any earlier relationships with a narcissistic person?
  3. Am I overlooking unhealthy patterns in hopes that they will change?
  4. Do I keep hoping they will someday see how good I am and appreciate, love, and accept me?

If you notice a pattern of consciously or unconsciously allowing narcissistic people into your life who treat you in unhealthy ways, this can be an important wake-up call.

Recognizing this pattern is nothing to feel ashamed about. It may reveal deep unmet needs from your past.

Human beings are inherently self-healing. Physical injuries, such as a cut in your finger, heal with little conscious effort on your part.

If you had multiple open wounds, you’d go to a hospital, not a landfill. So when it comes to healing the wounds of past relationships with narcissistic people, why tolerate relationships that are more like emotional landfills, full of risk for further injury?

Instead, commit to yourself that you will seek healthier relationships that offer safety and care. The more you protect yourself from further assault, the more readily you can recover from unhealthy and painful parts of your past.

Copyright © 2021 Dan Neuharth PhD MFT

A version of this post also appeared at Psychcentral.com.