Not being able to keep your hands off each other can certainly leave you feeling breathless. Just the thought of seeing him again has those [...]
Why Do I Attract Narcissists & Selfish Guys? How Can I Change This?
04 / 11 / 2022
Do you have a pattern of toxic relationships? You meet a guy who is so amazing at the start – charismatic, charming, and so into you. But as soon as you get hooked, he starts becoming controlling and critical. Do you ever ask yourself, “Why do I attract narcissists and selfish guys? What can I do to finally break this pattern?”
The first step is to understand why you are attracting narcissists in the first place. Then you can begin to change your strategies for finding love.
While your pattern of attracting narcissists may leave you feeling hopeless about your prospects for lasting love, the truth is you can break this pattern by developing new dating strategies to weed them out and attract the kind of guy you desire, one who would make an ideal life partner.
If you’re unsure you’re dating a narcissist, here’s a helpful guide:
What Is It Like To Date A Narcissist?
A narcissist covers up their extremely fragile self-esteem with a heightened sense of their own importance along with an unquenchable need for attention. Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance, are sensitive to any criticism, and have a complete lack of empathy for others.
The beginning of a relationship with a narcissist is intoxicating. They will put all their focus on you. All their charm and charisma is like sunshine and very difficult to resist. They make you feel great about yourself.
If you reject a narcissist, he will react by coming on stronger. Your lack of interest fuels his need to win you over and he will pull out all the stops. Once a narcissist has you in his sights he will do whatever it takes to sweep you off your feet.
However, as soon as they’ve drawn you in, narcissists become controlling, moody, impatient, belittling, entitled, and dismissive. They don’t want you to shine brighter than them, so they will knock you down a bit to keep you in your place.
Because they lack empathy, narcissists will never see your side of things and will discount your experience as well as your feelings. A narcissist has only one way of seeing the world – theirs. They are incapable of being loving and supportive partners.
Narcissists will use manipulative strategies to keep you under their control. You can even begin to believe that it’s your fault they are behaving badly. You end up questioning whether you did something wrong, and your own self-confidence and self-esteem will begin to erode.
Because narcissists are such bad partners, you’re probably wondering, “Why do I keep attracting narcissists?”
Why Do You Attract Narcissists?
The first step to understanding why you keep attracting narcissists is to turn the question around to better understand what is really going on. You do not have some hidden magnet inside of you that pulls a narcissist toward you every time you meet one.
What’s really going on is what happens with everyone: You attract what is familiar. To break it down further, you have a subconscious program that highlights narcissists and makes them shine brighter than other men you meet.
Something inside of you recognizes his narcissistic qualities and an alarm goes off saying, “This is familiar! This is familiar!” The problem is your subconscious doesn’t distinguish between what is familiar and good for you, versus familiar and bad for you. (This is because your subconscious cannot judge or analyze.)
Instead of asking, “Why do I attract narcissists?” you are better off asking, “What is it about these men that feels familiar to me?”
You’re not attracting them. You’re attracted to them. (This occurs only because the relationship between you and a narcissist triggers a familiar pattern of feelings inside of you.)
What would cause you to be attracted to such an unpleasant partner?
You Were Raised By A Narcissistic Parent
This is the most common reason why you are attracting narcissists. You learn about love initially in your family of origin. The dynamic between you and the people who raised you creates your subconscious program for love and intimate relationships.
While your relationship with your parents is not a romantic one, it is your first love relationship. As a little baby, you need to feel loved and safe to survive and your parents are the source of your love and safety.
Since your parents are like gods to you as a child, you won’t see their inability to parent you as their fault. Instead, you take full responsibility for their flaws. You believe that you’re the problem and there must be something wrong with you. You will take on any belief or strategy to feel loved and safe in your family of origin.
Children with narcissistic parents grow up to be perfectly matched for romantic partners who are narcissists. The relationship feels so familiar to you (and weirdly comfortable) that you have trouble extricating yourself from the toxic situation. (Many cannot even recognize that the relationship is in fact a toxic one.)
This same pattern applies to people who have abuse, bullying, or trauma in their childhood. The familiar dynamic plays out in romantic relationships.
Why do you attract narcissists? Because you were raised by one and you developed perfect strategies for accommodating their moods and selfish behavior. It feels “normal” and inviting to be constantly trying to win love from a narcissist who is incapable of loving you.
You Have An Overdeveloped Sense Of Empathy
It is important to understand and relate to another person’s feelings in order to develop healthy intimate relationships. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to feel what they are feeling allows you the ability to release judgment and understand your partner’s point of view.
However, having the ability to tune into your partner’s needs and desires plays right into a narcissist’s need to be the center of attention. While you may be great at valuing your partner’s point of view, your narcissist boyfriend won’t ever be able to reciprocate empathy. In fact, he’ll be using it against you.
He’ll be constantly asking you to see his side of things while discounting your own experience and your emotional life. He’ll play the victim when he’s called on it, and he may even attack you for criticizing him.
Empaths also tend to give others the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions are altruistic. This can cause you to easily forgive bad behavior and assume your partner isn’t against you or trying to manipulate you. This plays right into a narcissist’s strategy allowing them to take advantage of your good nature.
Why do you attract narcissists? Because your empathic abilities leave you vulnerable to a narcissist’s manipulation.
You Have A Strategy Of Sacrificing Your Needs To Earn Love
You can’t sacrifice your needs and have healthy relationships. This co-dependent strategy leaves you feeling empty and wondering if your partner will ever reciprocate. Narcissists don’t reciprocate. They just continue to receive until you have nothing left to give. They will wring you dry again and again and again.
Giving to get is not a good strategy for lasting love. Notice if you find yourself feeling angry and resentful that your partner doesn’t consider your needs. A narcissist sees you as the solution to their needs and is unable to understand that you require something from them. In his mind, being with him should be enough for you.
Why do you attract narcissists? Because your strategy of over-giving and sacrificing your needs feeds the narcissist so he feels satisfied without requiring him to reciprocate.
You Don’t Believe You Are Worthy Of Love
Low self-esteem can leave you vulnerable to a narcissist. At the beginning of the relationship when he is love bombing you, you’ll feel overwhelmed by how much attention he is directing your way. The narcissist will use his appearance of self-confidence to take advantage of your lack of confidence.
Initially, he’ll show up to rescue you and be your hero. He’ll appear as the answer to your prayers and dreams.
But as the relationship continues, he’ll begin to use your lack of self-esteem against you, subtly chipping away at your confidence. This is a way of controlling you and keeping you under his sway. He knows he can turn his attention back to you anytime he needs to, and you’ll respond accordingly.
Why do you attract narcissists? Because your low self-esteem and lack of confidence leaves you vulnerable to his manipulations.
While you may have subconscious patterns and behavioral strategies that leave you open to a narcissist’s manipulation, you are not doomed to be stuck in this type of toxic relationship. You can change your strategies, develop a stronger sense of self, and learn to set and keep boundaries.
Here are a few actions you can take so you never again have to ask, “Why do I attract narcissists?”
In fact, if you become proficient at these strategies, you’ll actually repel narcissists and have the space for a healthy, lasting, loving partnership.
How To Change Your Pattern Of Being Attracted To Narcissists
Set And Keep Clear Boundaries
There is nothing wrong with being empathetic and considerate of others. In fact, these are admirable qualities. It’s sensible to be a generous person who is compassionate, however it is not a requirement to sacrifice your needs and ignore your wants in a loving relationship.
If you allow bad behavior to continue because you’re unwilling to set and enforce your boundaries, you will leave yourself open to be manipulated by a narcissist.
Do you know what behaviors are deal breakers for you? Are you willing to enforce consequences if your partner doesn’t honor an agreement? Setting and keeping boundaries is the most powerful action you can take to break this pattern.
A narcissist will ignore and repeatedly push at your boundaries. Don’t give in and he’ll eventually move on. You will likely have to end all contact for him to do so.
Don’t Be Fooled By Instant Intimacy
The false flag of “Love At First Sight” is instant intimacy with a narcissist. The rush of an immediate spark with a stranger can be a warning signal that there is danger ahead. Soulmate relationships don’t happen after a few dates, they develop over time.
Seduction by a narcissist is exhilarating because they are overwhelmingly charming and put all their attention on their target.
Never give a stranger the benefit of the doubt just because you feel a strong attraction to him. Do not ignore any red flags. The dating process should take some time. Wait it out until he proves he can meet your needs and observe him closely when there is a conflict or disagreement. See if he is capable of seeing your point of view.
Being patient and not rushing in quickly to exclusivity or physical intimacy will become like a security system that keeps the narcissists away from you. They’ll look for an easier target.
Pay Attention To The Thoughts And Feelings He Inspires In You
Do you find yourself reviewing your conversations with him after the fact looking for what you could’ve done better or differently? Are you feeling light and uplifted after talking with him or do you feel insecure, anxious, and criticize yourself?
How you feel after you part from him will tell you a lot about whether he is a good match for you long-term. Feeling euphoric and obsessively thinking about him can also be a warning sign.
The start of a healthy love relationship will leave you feeling curious, happy, and contented. It’s similar to feeling warm and tingly inside like there is sunshine in your heart.
If you’re questioning whether or not your feelings are valid – get out and move on!
Make Requests And Observe How He Responds
A narcissist won’t be interested in meeting your needs. He may give you lip service, but he won’t follow through. Pay attention to how he responds when you make a request or ask him to do something for you.
Does he get defensive? Does he argue with you and belittle your request? Does he downplay or try to diminish your feelings? Narcissists see your needs in competition with their own.
By making requests you can discover if he has the capacity to step up and meet your needs. If he cannot, or doesn’t even try, it’s time to cut him loose.
Build Your Self-Confidence
You weren’t born feeling self-confident or feeling insecure. You learned to feel one way or the other depending on your experiences. Self-confidence doesn’t develop out of thin air, it comes from taking actions that make you feel good about yourself.
You can make efforts to grow your self-confidence by doing things you’ve never done before. There are many opportunities like taking an online class, doing something creative, or stepping out of your comfort zone.
Small consistent changes can have a dramatic effect in a relatively short period of time.
You’re not going to develop self-confidence overnight and you don’t have to change everything about yourself all at once. Take one small step at a time.
Start off by making agreements with yourself that you promise to keep. If you forget or make a mistake, start again. Every day is a new opportunity to stick to the commitments you have made to yourself.
The more self-confident you become, the less attractive you are to a narcissist. They won’t even notice you when they are looking for their next target.
Focus On What’s Really Important
Attraction is important for lasting love, but its only one ingredient. Without shared values, love won’t last because there won’t be common ground for you two to connect through the difficult times. You may feel a strong attraction to the narcissists you meet, but you don’t share the same values and you can’t build a life together.
Get clarity on what is really important to you when it comes to a romantic relationship. Discover the dynamic that you would like to have between the two of you. Don’t rush to a commitment so you can discover if a guy values the same things you do so you can create a life together that is filled with love and respect.
If you worry and think to yourself, “Why do I attract narcissists?” The answer won’t move you towards your goal of sharing your life with your soulmate. Instead, become the kind of person who won’t even notice the narcissist in the room. One that the narcissist would pass by and never think to engage with because you’re not an easy target for him.
If you’ve had your heart broken, or you’re starting to doubt that lasting love is possible for you, discovering your subconscious patterns that have kept you stuck is the most powerful step you can take.
We call this pattern Your Love Imprint® because you are the common denominator in all your relationships, so the key is to create change is within yourself.
Just like highlighting the narcissist in the room because he is familiar, you can change to highlight exactly the kind of man you desire to share your life with. One that will also choose you!
The best part is that you don’t have to rehash the past, and crying is optional! Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your love life and discover Your Love Imprint in one pain-free session.
Book a call with us and apply for Your Love Imprint® Session here.
About the authors
Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.