Attracting Narcissists

You’re Not Attracting Narcissists – Maybe Narcissists Are Attracting You

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When researching narcissistic abuse, you’ve no doubt run into some of the new age self-help articles that blame your wounded inner core and the forces of the universe for your trauma.

These articles claim that you’re attracting narcissists by being caring, compassionate, and empathetic. And worse, that you have no hope of avoiding narcissists if you still have traumatic wounds!

You’re just a natural magnet for narcissists and their narcissistic abuse, they say.

Honestly, these hot takes are kind of offensive because it’s no one’s destiny to constantly bear the brunt of narcissistic abuse. What did you do wrong for the universe to decide that you must carry the weight of a narcissistic abuser?

Not only that, but these articles also completely neglect YOUR control over the situation. Of course, it’s not your fault for winding up in an abusive relationship – romantic, parental, or otherwise.

But it is your responsibility to learn and grow from them so you can stop repeating the same patterns that got you into that mess.

You’re not “attracting narcissists” – you’re experiencing repetition compulsion by being drawn to a familiar dynamic.  In fact, the subconscious mind will lead you to precisely the kind of people you’re trying to heal from until you break the patterns that are hurting you.

You’re Not Attracting Narcissists – But, Maybe, Narcissists Are Attracting You

No, you’re not attracting narcissists. But narcissists are experts at sniffing out your weaknesses to burrow their way into your life and exploit you.

Like anyone else, narcissists crave comfort. They seek out what’s familiar to them so they can launch their abuse unnoticed. By then, it’s often too late and you’re stuck.

And when you’re stuck, they’ll keep you in the cycle of love-bombing and hate bombing: Giving you false hope that they’ll change for the better before going straight back to their put-downs and verbal assaults.

You can’t identify narcissism unless you know what you’re looking for and the narcissist relies on your ignorance to solidify an emotional connection in the early stages of a relationship.

If certain people were “attracting narcissists,” then only specific types of people – like empaths – would find themselves stuck in relationships with narcissists. And that’s absolutely not the case: Everyone is at risk of narcissistic abuse because of a phenomenon called ‘repetition compulsion’.

Many psychologists and thought leaders have recognized a tendency for humans to be drawn to situations that trigger unresolved traumas from earlier in their lives. A child who has an abusive parent may later be repeatedly drawn to abusive partners.  Someone who was often abandoned may be drawn, unconsciously, to people who will become close to them and then suddenly detach and leave. 

In the world of psychotherapy, this tendency is referred to as repetition compulsion, which was coined by Sigmund Freud as “the desire to return to an earlier state of things.”

According to psychiatrist and researcher Bessel van der Kolk, “Many traumatized people expose themselves, seemingly compulsively, to situations reminiscent of the original trauma. These behavioral reenactments are rarely consciously understood to be related to earlier life experiences.”

The Only Sliver of Truth to the Idea of Attracting Narcissists

Just like you should look out for red flags, narcissists look out for green lights in the preliminary stages of a relationship that signal you’ll be a good supply. These often include:

  • Giving you backhanded compliments and gauging your response.
  • Embarrassing you in public and noting how you react.
  • Asking intrusive questions about your sexual history or past relationships and shaming you for it.
  • Manipulating you into paying for things/calling out of work/abandoning plans with family or friends for them.
  • Asking intrusive questions about who’s texting you or commenting on your Facebook posts.
  • Suggesting that you move in together right away, even though you barely know them.

If you put up too much of a fight in any of these situations, the narcissist may simply hide their abusive traits until they have you in a more vulnerable position.

Unless you stick to solid boundaries, you’re at risk for narcissistic abuse – no one is immune.

You’re Falling into Repetition Compulsion from Past Trauma

The reality is that you’re a victim of a concept called repetition compulsion.

Humans seek out familiar situations. Familiarity is comforting – even when it’s abusive – and change is scary.

When people build genuinely healthy romantic relationships after suffering through narcissistic abuse, they usually don’t know how to behave because the healthy situation is so foreign to them.

You’ll put up walls and quickly get defensive with your partner. You’ll walk on eggshells because you’re afraid of angering your new partner. Sometimes, you’ll even sabotage the healthy relationship.

That’s why a comprehensive narcissistic abuse recovery program is so important to long-term wellness.

You’re not attracting narcissists – you’re seeking out what’s familiar.

Repetition compulsion is the reason sons of abusive fathers become abusers themselves and daughters become victims. At some point in your past, you suffered abuse that mimics that of narcissism.

Maybe one of your parents is a narcissist or your first relationship/crush was with a narcissist. Maybe you’ve always been a caregiver-type and you feel it’s your duty to nurture, guide, and help narcissists change into their “true self.” (Hint: It’s not.)

Either way, the abuse is normal to you. You ignore the red flags. You make excuses for them. Then you ask yourself, “how the heck did I get into this AGAIN?”

How to Set Up Boundaries to Prevent Attracting (or being led to) Narcissists

“If I’m not naturally attracting narcissists, then what’s the problem? How do I avoid this abuse before it’s too late?”

By noticing similarities and implementing heavily fortified boundaries.

It’s easy to look past major red flags at the beginning of a relationship when you’re infatuated with someone, but setting boundaries and sticking to them is the ONLY way to avoid narcissistic abuse for good.

Understand That It’s Not Your Job to Fix Everyone

A narcissist will always paint themselves as a victim. They’ll tell you all about their abusive parents, how their last partner cheated on them and crushed their dreams, and bla bla bla.

The narcissist wants you to feel sorry for them. They’re banking on you falling for the lie that you’re “fixing” them.

It’s not your job to fix anyone. You’re not their therapist. 

Learn about Yourself to Set Boundaries

A narcissist will always seek loopholes to exploit your boundaries.

To prepare yourself, you’ll need to figure out what your boundaries are exactly and that requires learning about yourself.

You might set unique boundaries for yourself in relationships – like being aware when someone is pressuring you into having children or moving far away.

Going through your phone, cheating, violence, implying or directly calling you worthless/lazy/stupid – these are all blatant lines you shouldn’t let anyone cross.

Don’t Take Them Back

If you take the narcissist back once, they’ll assume you’ll do it again. They’ll know that they have you hooked and feel smug that they can treat you however they please. 

If Someone Disrespects Your Boundaries, Take a Hint

In the beginning, a narcissist will subtly test your limits. They’ll want to see how much abuse you’ll put up with before giving them any pushback.

They aren’t going to suddenly change and start respecting your autonomy. It will only get worse – much worse.

Stand Firm When They Press Your Buttons

A narcissist will try every trick in the book to find weak spots in your resolve.

They’ll call you a hypocrite and point out your own flaws, claiming you have no moral right to set such boundaries.

They’ll say, “We’re not like other couples. We have a special bond that no one understands.”

It’s way too easy to fall for these tricks but you need to be strong and stand firm at this point. Cut off contact, ignore their inevitable love bombing, and don’t look back.

Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Trauma Today

Again, you’re not attracting narcissists. Giving narcissists an ego boost isn’t your destiny. It’s not anyone’s destiny or life purpose.

The key is to identify your own repetition compulsion and learn about yourself to put up effective boundaries. Don’t let your guard down: Narcissists will try to test your limits and find weak spots to break through your boundaries.

Don’t let them for a minute.  Simple to talk about, less simple to execute, but it’s the only way to break out of the pattern of toxic and painful relationships.

Anyone worth entering into a relationship with will respect your boundaries. They may admit that they don’t like it, but they’ll respect it because they respect YOU. That’s the difference.

You don’t have to be a chronic victim of narcissistic abuse. It’s not easy but you can make it out stronger than ever before.

Recovery involves rewriting everything you thought you knew about yourself. It requires rebuilding your identity – or in many cases building an identity for the first time.

Like someone suffering from substance abuse, you need a narcissistic abuse recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Essential Break Free Bootcamp may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

I know what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

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Anonymous says September 7, 2020

Kim unfortunately I never knew what a real narcissist was until I was married for 50:years and found out I was one of 4 in my husbands life. Without my therapist’s help I thought there was something wrong with me (well there was obviously something) but to be dx. With PTSD from all the years of abuse and trauma you have a real awakening of how dangerous these people are. Even to the point of separating my dtrs. and grandchildren from me. I wonder if after growing up with a narcissistic parent causes them to Learn this is normal behavior & they themselves become narcissistic. Thank you so much for everything you have taught me.

6 Types of Spiritual Bypassing Holding Back Your Abuse Recovery - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says February 18, 2020

[…] No one attracts narcissists and abuse.  It’s not your fault for winding up in an abusive relationship, regardless of whether it’s a partner, friend, or family member. […]

Dan says January 27, 2020

So true about seeking out the familiar – or in my case, tolerating it. I was married to a woman with borderline personality disorder and learned the ropes of walking on eggshells well. After I divorced and unwittingly upgraded to a new relationship with a covert narcissist, the gaslighting, crazymaking and abuse didn’t seem that far afield from “normal.” I think I tolerated a lot more because I was already conditioned by proximity to a Cluster B disordered person.

Rebecca says January 24, 2020

I appreciate your insight.

CC says January 22, 2020

Im an attractive woman and he is an attractive guy and I would give him the world. I had a leg injury and the money was not coming in and ask me who is going to take of him the I realized that he was using me and then he discarded me. It still hurt but each day I am getting stronger . The more he stay away the better I am without him,

J says January 19, 2020

I knew from the moment I crossed paths with the narc, it was because of past trauma – a coming full circle… but I thought it would be the OPPOSITE result. I had absolutely NO IDEA I would walk thru a purgatory… I kept saying I’m being shown something and purified, refined. When I discovered what he was… holy moly… my mind was blown. I had never heard of it. The thing that probably saved me was that I had a good relationship for many years and had already been built up a lot in mental / optimistic awareness; soooo I kept saying “this is not me”, “how did I end up in this kind of toxic mess”; “how did I become so toxic to attack/defend/call out what conflicted me about the narcs behaviors”; and it’s been a gradual process to exit (for safety’s sake) and to observe not react; break cognitive dissonance, etc. Unfortunately, there’s a baby involved now…and, fortunately there’s no marriage certificate. I actually predict the pattern, down to the day of what will happen next via that one line of communication. Like clockwork. I do a quick scan to make sure there isn’t any pertinent info I need to know. Narcs don’t like to be ignored. I don’t think I’ve done so much eye-rolling in a month or exasperating sighs, than I have done in recent weeks. My emotional phases were up and down (especially after reading books from different schools of thought); ultimately, over a 6 month period, it took about 6 weeks of coming to terms with it and knowing I would absolutely with 100% certainty not be able to have a happy, enjoyable life if I stayed in relationship. When I truly knew with out a shadow of a doubt that I was out, I took concentrated efforts to make it stick – with some lash back and scary moments – but I’m out.

God watch over me as I take the next steps while he continues to react. I need legal advice next..for the safety of my child around someone who is especially unstable right now. But I have no physical proof, which would be helpful now. I’m giggly happy I’m finally at this place, even though there’s a lot of uncertainty and he’s recently stopped transferring money for child care. Financial stuff puts in him in a ton of distress – that’s when his disordered traits rear their dark insidious ugly heads.

    ann says January 27, 2020

    had never heard of a narcissistic man happy to have found out who he is and to try and get help as I didn’t know why I had lost myself

Lin says January 14, 2020

Hi Kim,

I had to recognize this in my pattern. Narcissists were definitely attracting me. I was lured in by the love bombing and the sweet caring attitude and soon found that it was all a hoax. I was lured in to be abused. The sweet caring attitude quickly turned to the need to know where I was every second of the day and control.

I am free now and so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned but I’ll never make those mistakes again.

If we keep doing the same thing, we keep getting the same results. I’ve stopped doing what I was doing and now won’t settle for anything less than what I want in life.

Keep up the great work! You’re reaching so many with your message!

    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2020

    I am so glad to know you recognized the patterns and are now living a more empowered life, Lin! And thank you for your kind praise 🙂 Wishing you all the best life has to offer.

    Kim Xo

Anonymous says January 11, 2020

Sometimes I do FEEL like a magnet for narcissists even if I KNOW otherwise. They seem to psychically pull on my bones like they’re tearing me out from the inside.

    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2020

    Hi Anon,

    Yeah…the thing is, just as we should be on the lookout for red flags, narcissists look for “green lights”. So, once we have gotten into their “radar” it does make it easier for them to appeal to our inner wounding. But ultimately, we make the conscious and subconscious choice to become involved with them…meaning, it’s ultimately for our good, but not everyone has the transformative experience.

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Anna says January 10, 2020

Thanks for you are you Kim?

    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2020

    Awww, thank you, Anna 🙂

    Kim Xo

Olivia says January 6, 2020

“You’re not attracting narcissists – you’re seeking out what’s familiar.” Sooo true. It occurred to me that looking back, my school friends were mainly narcissists- because I didn’t know any better. I hung around with people who seemed familiar, it was only when nicer friends pointed out how the ‘friends’ treated me, that I began to wake up.

Stephanie Marqui says January 6, 2020

Dear Kim,
Yes, I used to find myself in relationships with abusive partners. Looking back I observed that in the very beginning I was NOT attracted, I was actually scared, terrified : my heart was pounding really hard, sometimes my hands were shaking, I couldn’t stay still, I kept changing clothes, rearranging my makeup, I was extremely nervous when ever I had to meet them or even talk to them on the phone. Whenever we were together I couldn’t stop looking at them, all my senses were on high alert, my heart was beating fast, I was smiling over one coffee more than over an average month. I smiled whenever I made eye contact especially, which was often because I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I confused those rushes of adrenalin with love. But I would have acted exactly the same in front of a cobra or tiger : not left them off my sight, felt nervous before, relieved and really good just after a safe encounter (the reason I didn’t think it over – I felt good (from relief) just after spending time with them). But I also felt exhausted after seing them. And something in me didn’t want to see them again. But I didn’t trust that “something”, when it came up I thought I had a problem. I was never really excited about seing them, always looking for excuses but I blamed myself for being lazy.
So I do think we are attracted by dangerous people because we confuse the signs of fear and attraction, of extreme fear and extreme passion. Let’s talk about sex, of course it was great : I don’t remember any of it! It felt like jumping in a pool of spiders except how could I say no? So I switched my brain off. I think the closer we are to a danger, the less we are able to think, we don’t have time, all we think about is pleasing the potential danger. Luckily I survived a few abusive relationships. And I have fun sometimes spoting men in the crowd, men who make my heart skip a beat, men I can’t stop staring at : now I know the message from my unconscious is WATCH THEM CAREFULLY UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF REACH.
Kind regards Kim.
My journey of identifying and staying away from abuse started with your videos.

Anonymous says January 5, 2020

I would pay attention to the red flags the next time thanks to what I have learned here.

Anonymous says January 5, 2020

Thanks to hearing the truth from Kim, I really think I would make sure to notice the red flags next time. I would run and never look back before getting close enough to end up hurt or worse. I believe I have learned my lesson and now realize that I do not need to fix people.

Daniel Svec says January 5, 2020

Thank you for teaching me a way out of this narcissistic victim syndrome. My friend of 9 years, we weren’t sexual but he was sexual with other guys behind my back. He kept my mind occupied on him 24/7 for 9 years. Any found a new supply and walked away. Then he hacked my Gmail accounts and tried to steal my financial identity. My heart hurts and I’m having difficulty focusing on keeping my life in order with him gone.

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