sitting duck for narcissists

How to NOT be a Sitting Duck for Narcissists and Other Manipulators

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Dating is a phase of discovery – whether or not you are recovering from a toxic relationship. If you’re not careful, you may begin to feel like a sitting duck for narcissists.

For those who are trying to break patterns of choosing the wrong partners, shedding “people pleasing” tendencies and putting oneself into HIGH-VALUE status should be the number one priority, even if doing so results in being single for a while.

In the early days of dating, you may feel inclined to show a new date that you are good relationship material by proving how understanding and forgiving you can be.  As a result, you overlook “mistakes” and faux pas in order to make sure the person likes and approves of you.

He was only a few minutes late.  Happens to everyone, right?

Even though you didn’t hear from him for almost a week, he had reasonable excuses as to why he didn’t call.  After all, you don’t want to come off as a nag or intolerant.  Men hate that stuff, correct?

Or, if you’re a male, you might look the other way while your date answers multiple text messages during your candlelit dinner. Perhaps she goes to the ladies room and stays gone a little longer than what you consider reasonable. 

If you want to hang onto that attractive new catch, might as well accept that she’s a little high-maintenance, right?

The problem with the above mindsets is that you are making this person, whom you barely know, more important that you’re making yourself – i.e., putting yourself into LOW-VALUE category while making them HIGH VALUE.

His schedule, work and family obligations, dinner time, etc. begin to be more important than yours.

You cancel on friends and family when she texts you out of the blue to go to dinner – with no prior mention of going out.

In other words, you are more concerned with whether this person will like you than whether their behaviors are acceptable or if the two of you are even compatible – which makes you a sitting duck for narcissists and other manipulators!

How to be High Value and screen out the users and abusers

So how do you avoid people-pleasing behaviors without appearing like a selfish, non-compromising snob?

First, keep in mind that any self-respecting individual is going to want to impress you, too.  They won’t show up late, text other people during dates (unless it’s the babysitter), excuse themselves multiple times to go to the bathroom, or flirt with the waitress or bartender.

High caliber individuals just don’t do those things.

Below are ten examples of behaviors to walk away from so you can keep yourself in HIGH-VALUE status and avoid being a sitting duck:

1 – He’s thirty minutes late to a date – in which case he should have a reasonable excuse, such as a speeding ticket or some other credible evidence as to why he was late.

2 – She constantly texts on her phone during dinner – which should be attributed to something serious such as one of her family members being in the hospital or her child running a low-grade fever before you picked her up.

3 – They repeatedly reschedule dates, cancel, bail at the last minute, or don’t show up at all.

4 – They talk about sex or hint around at casual encounters on the first date. (Unless you’re into that kind of thing, which you probably aren’t – and likely explains why you’re here, reading this article).

5 – Instead of wanting to learn more about you, they are intent on recounting elaborate stories of how they dated a Victoria’s Secret model or how their last boyfriend was a semi-millionaire.

6 – Not responding to your calls for days. (Hint:  if you just started dating someone, you really shouldn’t be calling them repeatedly.  Reach out once if you can’t stop yourself, but after that, the ball is in their field).

7 – They make it clear they want to keep things “casual”. This is what emotionally unavailable people want in their relationships so they can come and go as they please and keep you hanging on a string, while you feel progressively awful about yourself wondering why they won’t commit (which perpetuates and enhances any feelings of low self-esteem you might have).

8 – They put pressure on you to move quickly, meet their parents or children, get engaged, get married, or move in together – after only a few dates. It’s enticing to believe someone can love you after only a few dates, but the more important thing is to determine if they’re a good match for you instead of jumping into a relationship to fill a void.

9 – They make it clear they’re dating other people and don’t want anything serious. Alternately, they may say they’re not dating other people, but you discover they told a lie.  Both of which point to an inability to commit.

10 – They’re still enmeshed with an Ex with whom they share custody of their child– perhaps still living in the same house or apartment building. This is almost always the result of a “friends with benefits” situation that was forced upon a passive partner by their manipulative Ex, the latter of whom you are now dating.

Giving yourself HIGH-VALUE status isn’t being mean or pretentious

Jim Rohn made an insightful remark when he stated, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much”.

If someone is acting in disrespectful ways towards you and the relationship, it’s not up to you to make excuses for them, allow them to continue trampling your boundaries, or repeatedly give them the benefit of the doubt.  Doing those things encourages the other person to get comfortable with mistreating you, and teaches them to continue those behaviors.

It also sets you up for huge disappointment.

If someone you’ve just started dating – or have been dating a while – engages in these disrespectful deeds, you can sever the relationship in a way that maintains your dignity.  There’s no need to insist upon letting them know how hurtful or ill-mannered they’ve been towards you (besides, they’ve heard these and similar things from past partners).  Simply thank them for the “good times”, let them know you’re not compatible as a couple, and wish them well.

That’s it.  You don’t need to explain or justify your decision…just thank them and walk away.

Don’t rely on manipulators to step up to the plate for you.  Step up for yourself because you’re worth the effort and putting yourself in HIGH-VALUE status paves the way for finding the high caliber partner you dream of.


Have you started dating again after a generous period of self-healing after narcissistic abuse?  Make sure you have a strong sense of identity and boundaries, otherwise you may find yourself with another manipulator!  Learn more here.

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How to NOT be a sitting duck for Narcissists and other Manipulators – Sympaticos.Love says June 3, 2018

[…] (Originally published on […]

Carol Gorman says May 3, 2018

Everything in this article is the truth
Thank you for sharing this.

Shalom says January 24, 2018

As always, your words are on point! I just started dating again, and I’ve been firm with what I desire, require and protected my boundaries. One by one they bow out saying “We’re not at the same place in life”. At first, because it was happeneing frequently, I thought I may be doing something wrong (this dating thing is new to me these days). But I know deep down I’m not, so thanks for confirming!

    Kim Saeed says January 27, 2018

    I know what you mean! “We’re not at the same place in life” is often code for, “Dang, can’t get over on this one!”

    Good for you for standing up for yourself 🙂

    Kim XoXo

Beatriz says October 3, 2015

Hi Kim, your answer has been a present today. Thank you for make me feel understood in this things so fragiles and sensitives. You are right. It seems they only nice way to recover myself is focus on good people, good things and my son. I´m hurt and scary of people and I´m very affectived about all the things I´m realized. I´m seeing the truth of my life and I´m in shock. Thank you vey much for all the things you are doing. Bigs hugs from Spain.

h_rose says September 19, 2015

I think this is great and helpful, I love your posts. I’m also thinking about the other kinds of narcissists, disordered personalities types. abusers. The ones who are tremendously attentive and punctual, in the beginning, during the love bombing stage. They will want to hear your story, they want to learn about who you are, essentially your vulnerabilities. And during that period we get the wrong impression, that the person is caring. As one of my counselors recommended, we should take our time when getting to know someone. Sounds simple and straight forward but as you say in the post, we tend to make the person, whom we barely know, more important that we make ourselves (maybe in this case, we think they are more caring and we’re so blessed by their unusual ‘care’.)
And as you say, most importantly, give ourselves the high status we deserve. And in this way, trust the red flags, in all of the unique ways they show up.

    Kim Saeed says September 21, 2015

    Hi h_rose! Thank you for your insightful comment, as well as pointing out that we should trust the red flags, in whatever way they show up. Spot on!



      Beatriz says October 1, 2015

      Hi Kim, thank you for give light to my understanding.
      Being a victim of narcissistic people ( my mother, exboyfriend and friend) make me feel destroyed. I feel they have taken my soul. I´m INFJ/HSP/empath.
      Today, meanwhile I was waiting in my son´s school, I was wondering how many parents (or people in general) could be narcissistic people or have a personality disorder or toxic people. I was very hurt thinking about it.
      I feel I can´t trust because I´m scary. It seems I attract this type of personality and then it´s very difficult to avoid them. I feel I have been all my life struggling with people. I always trust in everybody because I see the kindness of people. I have even seen the child that is under the narcissistics. I can see a child hurt and with hate and they only want to take revenge to satisfy their grief. I can see people deeper. But I scary when I realice that a lot of people have a lot of problems of personality. It makes me feel careful. At the same time my soul can´t extend and I´m hurt. I think INFJ and HSP have a deep human connection with people independent of their nature. I could connect with the emotions of other and feel how they feel. It´s very hurt when I´m with narcissistic people. Because I feel an attraction to solve their wounds. I realice that I met nice people with a nice soul but they were not in my way. I wonder what is my purpose in life? Suffer? How can I live totally myself without pain?
      I would thank any answer. Thank you. Have a nice day.

        Kim Saeed says October 3, 2015

        Beatriz, thank you for your touching comment. I share your desire to see the good in people, but I have also learned to be careful of who I give my trust to. I wonder if this might be happening so that you can learn to protect your healing tendencies and share them with those who can truly benefit from them. For example, once someone has betrayed your trust, it would be better for you to release them from your life. You don’t have to do it in a way that’s uncomfortable for you, but lovingly let them go so you can focus on the good in life, and the good people in life. There are some that you simply cannot help.

        It’s definitely a learning process, but try to focus on good people and good things so that you can attract more of that into your life.

        Wishing you the best 🙂

Kim Manning says September 17, 2015

I really, really like and appreciate your website posts and the weekly emails. The one below is particularly helpful as I review that charade of a relationship with my ex-narcissist. So, so different from my late husband, a universally liked and respected man, very honorable and compassionate I’m still trying to figure out why I ignored my red flags and went with a – no kidding – self described a-hole, d—, cold fish, selfish, self -absorbed, projecting, mean, cruel, made fun of my kids, and a guy who took secret sadistic pleasure in embarrassing or humiliating others under the guise of a joke.

I don’t want to attract such a guy again.

Your site and Safe Relationships Magazine are the most helpful. Thank you! Kim in California

Sent from my iPhone


    Kim Saeed says October 1, 2015

    Thank you for reaching out and for your kind praise, Kim. I am glad to know you’ve gotten out of that relationship. Wishing you all the best in your path forward <3

LyndaM says September 17, 2015

Wow…!!!! You are totally on bullseye with everything…!!! Thanks Kim, I really enjoy and rely on your words of wisdom to keep me moving forward and proud of the “new and improved me”….!! Confident, self-aware, positive, self-reliant, and fearless… Really embracing the ability to set boundaries and say “no” and not feel the need to explain why… Woohoo…!!!! Freedom….!!! It’s also really great now, to be able to detect narcissistic people (both men & women), before they offer you a mushroom and cup of grape kook aid… Lol… Thank you again… Keep up the fantastic work….
Love & Light,
Lynda M

    Kim Saeed says October 1, 2015

    Hi Lynda! Good to see you here. I love your “mushroom and cup of grape kook aid” quip. Priceless 🙂

Maria Swartling says September 16, 2015

Thank i for this post. Just what i needed. I was interested in someone, but now he feels like hes devalueling me, i dont like it.

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> 15. sep. 2015 kl. 20.03 skrev Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed : > > >

Anonymous says September 15, 2015

Outch outch outch outch….

rupaliuddin says September 15, 2015

Reblogged this on audacesfortunaiuvat and commented:
It took me a while to understand this, but I finally have.

mbjuliet says September 15, 2015

Could you write an artic

How to NOT be a sitting duck for Narcissists and other Manipulators | Gentle Kindness says September 15, 2015

[…] Source: How to NOT be a sitting duck for Narcissists and other Manipulators […]

chirose says September 15, 2015

I really needed to hear this today.! Thank you.!!

    Kim Saeed says September 15, 2015

    Thank you so much for letting me know that, Chirose 🙂

Maria says September 15, 2015

Another great article Kim! I am just shaking my head at how my ex narc did each of those things you listed in the beginning of the relationship because like you said I was too focused on impressing him and making sure he liked me instead of realizing that his behavior was unacceptable. Wow, I especially laughed at the my ex girlfriend was a model because he actually said those things. His ex girlfriends were either models or on their way to become doctors. Now of course I see it as triangulation, but it did work on making me compete for him even more at the time. Ugh, I just shake my head now. However, I am slowly recovering and moved to a different state with our child. I am only communicating with him in regards to our son, but I realize that I am feeling better about myself each day that passes. But it is a slow recovery. I still have a lot of healing to do. But I consider myself lucky to actually wake up and see him for who he is. Thank you for this great article.

    Kim Saeed says September 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Maria. I made those same mistakes, too – turning a blind eye to unacceptable behavior so I could have the chance to prove I was “great relationship material”.

    I’m glad to know you were able to move away with your child and are healing. Wishing you all the very best!

Cole Pallant says September 15, 2015

HI! First time visiting your site! I LOVE it!

    Kim Saeed says October 1, 2015

    Thank you, Cole! 🙂

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