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The Only Two Things You Need in Order to Stop Attracting Narcissists

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Recently, I wrote an article about how obsessively researching narcissism can ruin your life

A lot of readers said they thought it was the right thing to do, and some shared that they do it because they want to make sure they never attract another narcissist into their lives.

These are common beliefs after finally leaving a relationship with a narcissist.  I get it.  After all the lies and betrayal and trying to gain back some sense of normalcy, the last thing anyone would want is to find themselves in yet another toxic and dysfunctional relationship.

But, in truth, there is only so much you can learn about narcissism.  There may be thousands of blogs out there on the topic, but at a certain point, there’s really nothing new to learn.  The science has been done, the behavior has been analyzed, it’s been described in many different languages, and the internet is over-saturated with content revolving around narcissism.

There may be fifty shades of grey, but at the end of the day, it’s just gray. 

If you’re just learning about narcissism, you may feel the drive to learn more about the condition.  You want to understand the reasons your partner or Ex behaves the way they do.  It’s normal to want to comprehend how they can be so malicious.  Just proceed with caution because, while it may help to explain the narcissist’s behaviors, this knowledge won’t do anything to change the outcome of the relationship. 

But for those of you who want to make sure you don’t attract another narcissist into your life, there are only two things you need, neither of which have to do with narcissists (or anyone else, for that matter).

These two things are always at your disposal.  If you have them, you’ll never have to worry about being in a relationship with another narcissist.  And, they are so simple, you could have these tips in your toolbox within the hour if you don’t have them already.  They are…

Personal Boundaries and a List of Deal-breakers

Why are these two things so important?  Because without them, it won’t matter how much you know about narcissistic traits.  Without them, you could write a dissertation on narcissism, yet still find yourself in a relationship with one.

How do I know?  For one, it happened to me several years ago…and it’s also happened to many of my clients.

There is one major flaw in believing that knowing everything there is to know about narcissism will save you from attracting another one, and it’s that you’re still focusing on things outside of yourself.  Things you cannot control.

Not only that, it will keep you in a state of hypervigilance, running the risk of never trusting anyone again.  Ever.

You can only control yourself and what you need inside of your relationships – romantic or otherwise –  to maintain a sense of emotional safety. 

Let’s break down these two simple, yet life-changing concepts and how they can help you avoid ever attracting another narcissist into your life.

Your Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others.[1]  They are limits beyond which you will not go and which others are not welcome.

Recovering abuse survivors often find it extremely difficult to implement boundaries because they fear upsetting other people or that setting boundaries may jeopardize their relationships.  These are normal feelings to have, but also the major reason why you need to figure out your own boundaries before entering into any relationship – and implement them into your existing ones.

Figuring out your personal boundaries helps you determine what you need in your relationships to feel safe and valued.  So, it’s important that you determine which things make you feel uncomfortable and go from there.  For example, if you feel disturbed when someone texts you an inordinate number of times while you’re at work or out with friends, this might become a personal boundary regarding your time. Time boundaries are violated when a person demands too much of another’s time. You could set a personal boundary so that you don’t respond to anyone’s calls or texts while you’re at work or out with friends unless it’s an emergency.

Or, on the flip side of that, you may find it rude when someone that you’ve made a lunch date with spends a large amount of time texting on their phone.  You’d want to explain to them that you would prefer when the two of you are together, they try to be more present with you by spending less time on their phone.  After all, if you have made special arrangements to meet with them, they should recognize that your time is valuable, and if they are going to continually text other people while you’re with them, it defeats the whole purpose of your spending time together.

Determining your personal boundaries is all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. 

Personal boundaries generally cover seven areas: 

Emotional – Emotional boundaries are violated when someone criticizes, belittles, or invalidates your feelings.

Physical – Physical boundaries may be violated if someone touches you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable, or when they invade your personal space, such as grabbing your cell phone and checking your call history.

Sexual – Sexual boundaries can be violated with unwanted sexual touch, pressure to engage in sexual acts, staring, or uninvited sexual comments.  For example, a sexual boundary violation might involve a new date asking about your sexual preferences or history when you barely know them.

Intellectual – Intellectual boundaries are violated when someone dismisses or belittles your thoughts or ideas.

Time – As stated above, time boundaries are violated when another person demands too much of your time. This is where isolation from family and friends occurs, because an unhealthy partner will insist that you spend too much time with your children, friends, or co-workers (saying they love you and want to spend all of their time with you).

Material – Material boundaries are violated when someone takes or damages your things, or when they pressure you to give or lend them your possessions and/or money.

Spiritual – Spiritual boundaries are violated when someone uses religion to control you and/or belittles your own spiritual beliefs. 

Takeaway – Part of recovery from narcissistic abuse is forgiving oneself for having stayed in a toxic relationship.  This sort of self-disdain won’t be such a big struggle going forward if you take a stand for yourself.   If someone has a problem with your setting healthy boundaries, they aren’t a good candidate for a relationship — romantic or otherwise. 

Of course, it’s not enough to create boundaries; you actually have to follow through with them. People who are manipulators will purposefully violate your boundaries in an effort to see what you will tolerate.  Therefore, it’s critical that you assertively communicate with other people when they’ve crossed a boundary.  In a diplomatic way, let the other person know what is bothersome to you and that you can work together to resolve it.  Someone who truly cares about you will respect that.

Determining and Enforcing Your Deal-Breakers

While deal-breakers are part of personal boundaries, they’re a bit more rigid.  With personal boundaries there may be some room for compromise, such as allowing a partner two nights out with friends or co-workers as opposed to five.  Or, having meat-free dinners a few times a week as opposed to eating meat with every meal.

Deal-breakers, on the other hand, are areas where you will not compromise.  At all.  They are qualities that would disqualify someone as a dating prospect or long-term partner, regardless of how many other awesome traits they have or the seeming connection you may feel you share up to the moment of the deal-breaker.

Just because someone is fun to go on dates with doesn’t make them the best candidate for a long-term relationship.

Determining your deal-breakers is just as personal as determining your personal boundaries…meaning, yours could be slightly different from someone else’s.  Some of my personal deal-breakers are:  lying, infidelity, watching porn, and the unwillingness to engage in healthy communication.

Deal-breakers are not something you need to whip out on the first date.  In fact, I would advise against it because manipulators will then hide their involvement in your deal-breakers and put on a really good stage show of being the perfect match for you.

Takeaway –  Deal-breakers are for your emotional security and stability.  If you discover someone has broken one, you don’t even need to let them know about it.  Just thank them for the good times and be willing to walk away…and mean it.

Copyright 2018.  Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach

[1] Hereford, By Z. “Healthy Personal Boundaries & How to Establish Them.” Healthy Personal Boundaries & How to Establish Them. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

Need help setting up your Personal Boundaries and Deal-breakers?  Download the free worksheets below!

Get My Boundaries Worksheets!

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Get your boundaries worksheets and start living a more empowered life TODAY! A useful tool for anyone, but especially Empaths!

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43 comments
Relationship Deal Breakers: Know When to Walk Away - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says September 15, 2019

[…] Make a list of absolute deal breakers before entering a relationship. […]

Reply
Brenda Barton says September 2, 2019

A few of my deal breakers are porn addiction, cheating, constant criticizing, and most assuredly I have to be dealing with someone who can humble themselves admit they are wrong or made a mistake and be willing to atleast try to not keep doing the same thing. I humble myself, admit I’m wrong and sicerly try not to keep doing the same thing. But I’m almost always dealing with someone who puts alot of energy into pointing out and exploiting my and other people’s mistakes and defects but they cannot or will not admit they do anything wrong. The narcissist was so bad that though he lost things all day long he could never say “I lost” or “I misplaced it” he would always accuse whoever was there last of stealing it

Reply
5 Tips to Avoid Users When Dating After Narcissistic Abuse - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says September 1, 2019

[…] Read:  The Only Two Things You Need to Stop Attracting Narcissists […]

Reply
Faba says August 27, 2019

I constantly failed in setting baundaries. When I try to protect my self I end up mocked or humiliated. Even tho I have clear in my head that I had being hurt I still end up leaving the relationship cause my boundaries are broken and i feel mocked when I try to comunicated this to my family.

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Karen says August 27, 2019

Thank you so much for this. It came at a time when it was much needed.

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Anonymous says July 17, 2019

My Ex did all of these things and actually studied Narcissism after she blindsided my with the divorce/discard. I made every mistake you list and lost literally everything to her. She’s running around playing the victim as per her “native” and she’s making me out to be the lying, cheating, stealing dirt bag that she is. I’m Emotionally damaged to my core now and she’s happy as pie and hides the fact that she has all the be heart of a road. She’s playing it up and threate8 me but I’m moving and hiring investigators and àttorneys that can hopefully get my family’s belongings back.

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Emotional Abuse and 7 Signs of Covert Narcissism - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says April 23, 2019

[…] Let’s start by looking at what personal boundaries are. […]

Reply
Mary says March 31, 2019

I have a question for you. My x seems to be following me around when ever I leave the house. It doesn’t seem to matter what surrounding towns I am in he seems to be there. He sits in his truck and watches me or drives by or walks by without a word to me. What is he doing? The problem is every time I see him it makes me sick and I start to think of him. I divorced him after the affair and finding out he owed 70 thousand dollars for a house he lost with his other x wife after we got married. I don’t know what to do about this besides leave the state and be far away from him.

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Shane Foster says February 3, 2019

Your information on abuse is so good. Thank you.

Reply
    Kim Saeed says February 3, 2019

    It’s my pleasure and honor, Shane 🙂

    Reply
Anonymous says January 11, 2019

Very important info!!! After being married to a Narc Ibhave been over looking at videos and blogs, I feel like a trust no one anymore. This is great help! Greetings and love from Cista Rica!

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Sarah Greene says December 13, 2018

Thank you for the validation, and making the painful journey, bearable. I don’t research info on why, but how and where to go from here. Your blood sweat & tears aren’t overlooked. Thank you for all you do.

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BB says December 10, 2018

Very helpful… Tks:)

Reply
Louis says December 10, 2018

My ex girlfriend and I dated for 11 months. She lived with me for about 5 months after 2 months dating. She was perfect until she moved in. Then the false accusations began. She moved out because she claims she saw me texting someone. I wasn’t but couldn’t convince her. Her ex husband of 28 year marriage cheated. She is extremely insecure and I am completely monogamous. I am just wondering if she is a narcissist or just insecure. We have broken up and gotten back together several times since she moved out. Never when she thinks I’m cheating have I been. Never

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Me says December 10, 2018

Txs again for this elloborating blog. Indeed personL boundaries as well as deal breakers is what any person should have in any relationship. Without being too rigid. But the narcissist knows perfectly well how to manipulate and to so- called respect those boundaries and at the same time violating those behind your back. That is what happened to me. Sure little things happened which i put away making up excuses for him or being too empathic. But those were very little things or not? the NARC knows exactly how to resonate with ones feelings and boundaries while at the same time, taking pleasurement out of the manipulation into believing that ( without proof) it wasn’t what you believe it was. Thus making you doubting your own feelings or instinct. They take pleasure in making you believe nothing happened while it did happen . As long as they deny ( as in court) they know without proof you can’t take counter actions. How should I’ve handled those situations? I wonder? Should i have left earlier based solely on my gut telling me something wasn’t right although he was the sweetest guy in the world to me?

Reply
Michele Moore says December 10, 2018

All of your information is so helpful and has encouraged me along this journey of healing and self discovery. I have so many deal breakers at this point I may never be in a serious relationship again but I am ok with that if it is not a healthy one the next time.

Reply
    Kim Saeed says December 12, 2018

    Thank you for your kind praise, Michele…I agree with you. It’s much better to be single than to be in a relationship that makes you feel depressed and lonely.

    Kim XoXo

    Reply
JoJo says December 10, 2018

Kim thank you for your daily dose of support! Your point of forgiving oneself is what I struggle with the most these days. I’m a smart loving woman but failed to value myself and protect myself for many years with a narcissist man. Daily I’m working on forgiveness within.
I failed to take care of myself mentally and it feels horrible but it’s neber to late to LEARN and set those boundaries for my future. One person told me years ago to never be mad at myself for loving someone because love is a gift – a gift not every person is given in life.
Thank you again for all the words of encouragement.

Reply
Nokishu wilson says December 9, 2018

Thank you for sending me your stories to me thay mean alot They sure has helped me get through my break up with my narcissit friend its been a year an everthing Ive read that you have sent me helped me get through this crazy situation Im so happy you sent me your stories they helped me stay strong so I want go back I promise myself I would never go back its been a month an a half for Im not as stressed as I was Thank u for helping me

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Anonymous says December 9, 2018

Kim you have a lot of wisdom and intuition. Many thanks for this great understanding and assistance. Much love to you

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John Taylor says December 9, 2018

Excellent article. My problem has been I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt and that’s what was used against me. Never again! No longer will I question what I saw, felt and heard!

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Laurie Anzovino says December 9, 2018

I was with my ex for 40 married years. I never knew. I never understood. I felt so very alone. You see, he’s such a nice magnanimous man.
After 8 months of no contact, I notice my kids, one of each, have a tendency to treat me as he did. It was their norm. I now work on boundaries with them. I divorced that behavior. It’s no longer tolerated. And with families of their own, I remind them. We are their examples. Be aware of what you are really teaching them.

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Brid says March 19, 2018

Thank you for this

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Terrie Vanover says February 19, 2018

Hi Kim-
This is a well written article that details the importance of setting boundaries.

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Annabel says February 18, 2018

Thank you for highlighting the need for boundaries and deal breakers. After 24 years of a narcissistic abusive marriage I escaped with my daughter. She’s 9. He then moved near to where I’d moved too. I tried co parenting this did not work. So I’m going for parallel parenting as my boundary with no contact smeared all over it. Moving forward when I first t left I didn’t even know what a boundary was never mind how to set them for myself. Over time this comes back a little. Seeing clearly written examples really helps. Not just a discription but defined examples that I can go. I’m having that one. That works for me. …. would always be great and welcome. Thank you. I have downloaded your work book as I’ve got the feeling it’s all going to be in there. Heartfelt thank you.

Reply
    Kim Saeed says February 21, 2018

    So glad to know my article helped you, Annabel. Wishing you all the very best.

    Kim XoXo

    Reply
      Carol says December 9, 2018

      I’m dealing with parental alienation and constant smear campaign Kim, it’s hell two years now and he lives with another woman in my house what do I do?

      Reply
Stef says February 3, 2018

Thank you for your insiteful discussion!! I especially enjoyed the part about personal boundries and deal breakers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and May the Lord continue to bless, guide and protect you all the days of your life for enlighting, sharing and empowering ME!!

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Jutta says December 27, 2017

I am following closely your publications since several month and I am always again impressed by the clarity, strength and the fire in your heart that clearly comes through in your writing. Know how grateful I am for your engagement to help thoroughly broken people like me to heal and thrive. It’s now clear that I still have a long road to walk, but it gets easier with every step.

Reply
Anonymous says November 21, 2017

Good read. It has been in my personal experience with escaping years of abuse, that God was what I needed to survive. With Him in your heart, He can show you how to escape and heal. I believed for a long time that the narcissist, psychopath/sociopath possessed some mental handicap. I no longer believe this or that they were born with these traits or inability to love properly. This only gives them an excuse to continue to abuse others. Everyone has the choice to treat others good or bad. They are evil. Evil has existed since the beginning of time. Proof is in the bible. This is their behavior. Behavior is learned. They know right from wrong. They choose to do wrong.

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    gretchen says October 4, 2018

    I agree! I think they’re just evil!

    Reply
      chelley brinson says February 16, 2019

      Yes, this is the word from scripture :But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

      Reply
Tips to Master Self-Discipline While Going No Contact - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says November 10, 2017

[…] you break a commitment to yourself, remember that you are human. You need to prioritize your commitments to yourself in the same way you prioritize other people’s […]

Reply
Angela says November 2, 2017

I enjoyed reading this .. good point to stop looking at articles about narcissistic personality traits and behaviour. I think it was starting to make me anxious reading it and going over it . I think setting boundaries is positive and another step forwards to letting go of past .. Happy 😊

Reply
7 Irrational Thoughts That Hinder Your Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says October 26, 2017

[…] be loyal in a relationship is much higher than people sometimes give credit to.  Further, creating a list of relationship deal breakers would improve one’s chances of finding a rewarding relationship in the […]

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Relationship Deal Breakers: Know When to Walk Away - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says June 23, 2017

[…] Make a list of absolute deal breakers before entering a relationship. […]

Reply
You talking to me? says May 13, 2017

The only thing that is missing that should be added is that time boundaries also means setting boundaries with those people who have a total disrespect for your time. Classic manipulative behaviors to be late, never follow through, never follow up. This is trying to control you by controlling your time. Most of the time narcissists are not blowing up your phone with texts or phone calls. In fact, usually they ignore you to invalidate you, ignoring your messages and running late without contacting you in advance. My experience is those people who are blowing up the phones are usually the ones who are in the relationship with the narcissist, because the narcissist triggers this behavior because narcissists don’t give a crap about your time nor a crap about making you feel validated

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    Anonymous says July 29, 2017

    I agree completely. My sister is like this. Finally figured this one out…we agree on a time to meet and I give her 5 extra minutes to arrive then I go with out her.

    Reply
    Mar says August 24, 2017

    Well said!!

    Reply
Tina Schmidt says October 2, 2016

Now in my second litigation over my “deal breakers” involving child upbringing. Get it signed and notarized. I will exceed 200k defending myself and our daughter from this abuser and his mother.

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Anna Nim says October 1, 2016

The most truest advice. Boundaries keep em away, keep you aware of their games, so if you do get sucked in..it won’t be for near as long! Run, run, run from these!

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Sarah J Webb says September 26, 2016

Wonderful blog post, Kim. I really like the detail you went into around personal boundaries and what areas they actually include. If we do this – and implementing our deal-breakers more firmly – it’ll actually cover off nearly every fragment of the Power and Control wheel which many narcissists cover off in their cruelty. Well done, another thoroughly enjoyable and educational blog post – nailed it again!

Reply
    Kim Saeed says September 27, 2016

    Thank you, Sarah! It’s so good to see you here 🙂

    Kim
    XoXo

    Reply
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