Today’s question has been asked many times; it has been asked in many different ways: How do narcissists choose their victims? Or why did they pick me?
So firstly, when we are talking about narcissism, we are not talking about someone who can be difficult. Somebody could be obstinate or selfish once in a while. we think if we’re honest, we can all be a little bit like that once in a while. we are referring to something that is pathological; it is long-term, pervasive, and persistent. And the common characteristics of narcissism include being very disagreeable. There is the need for attention. There’s a need for admiration. There’s a lack of empathy, and there’s been either resistance or sensitivity to criticism.
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So how do they choose people? How do they choose their victims?
Well, first of all, we’d like to dispel a myth. There seems to be a myth that narcissists can zero in on the most sensitive, caring, compassionate people, and it’s almost like they were sharks able to smell blood from a mile away. Well, no, they are not clairvoyant; it is not a superpower. When they’re looking for someone who is sensitive and empathic, we think they’re looking for a particular role. For example, in a workplace situation, it’s not like they have this built-in radar; what they would be doing with maybe everybody in the workplace. They will be making little jokes, pushing boundaries, and having unreasonable expectations. The one person who doesn’t stand up for themselves, the one person who maybe just wants a quiet life, the one person who doesn’t answer back, that’s the person they target for bullying.
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When it comes to choosing a partner, how many people reading this article or how many people do you know who have been in a long-term, narcissistic, abusive relationship? When you first met, you were confident. You were ambitious. You felt good about yourself. You felt good about the things that you could do. You had a pretty good idea of how you wanted the future to look. All of that was eroded over time, a little piece at a time, till maybe two years, three years, ten years later, all that confidence is gone. You have someone who’s second-guessing themselves. Someone who’s going round in circles in their own head, constantly vigilant for the next explosion, the next threat.
So they don’t necessarily want someone who is caring and sensitive, and certainly that’s a bonus to them if they don’t assert themselves. What the narcissist wants in a partner is pretty much anybody who’s available, who’s going to pay them attention, anybody who’s going to admire them, have s*x with them, listen to their terrible tales of woe and tragedy and trauma. Someone who’s going to be impressed by their compassion, someone who’s going to be impressed by their tales of bravado and daring do. Someone who’s going to listen to their lies, and even if they know they’re being lied to, someone who’s going to listen to their lies but not call them out on it.
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Yes, they may look for someone who’s a bit of a wreck of a person, someone who’s struggling with something themselves. Maybe someone who’s come out of another long-term difficult relationship. Some might look for someone like that, but more often not with narcissism, remember they are attracted to pretty much anyone who is of value to them. They are attracted to the most beautiful person there is, the most physically attractive person at the party, the most accomplished, the most successful, the most intelligent, the one with the most money, the one with the most potential, the one whose family are the most affluent. These are the things the narcissist is attracted to because remember they are, they believe themselves to be the most beautiful, special, powerful, entitled people ever, and they want to be associated with other beautiful, special, powerful people.
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And because most relationships are more like a transaction to them, when they meet someone like that, it’s almost like they’re figuring out in their head, ‘What do I have to do here? What way am I going to have to behave in order to get what I want from you?’ Now, it is generally a bonus to them if they do pick someone who’s very nice, very sensitive, doesn’t like to hurt other people’s feelings. Other times what happens over time is those boundaries, that confidence gets eroded away.
Also, think of the question, ‘Why did they pick me?’ Well, think of that the other way round. Why did I pick them? Remember, a lot of narcissists, the more socialized they are anyway, they are highly accomplished actors. They’ve learned to be very charismatic, witty, charming, caring. They know how to perform empathy and compassion, things like that. Or even maybe physically very attractive, very beautiful people. They have learned many times with all their information-gathering skills they have learned to tell different people exactly what they want to hear. It is only with hindsight that we began to see all of this was a lie. All of this was just an act. All of this was just about manipulation.
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Something to think about when you think about someone with very strong narcissistic traits. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, it doesn’t matter how good-looking you are, it doesn’t matter how influential you are, it doesn’t matter how nervous and shy you are, it doesn’t matter how much you might struggle with assertiveness. If you don’t pay them any attention whatsoever, if you do not engage with them, you know that meeting for the first time with that party, going on that first date with them. If you do not engage in, give them what they want, they tend to just go away and leave you alone, and they’ll move on to the next person to see if they can get that supply from them. So maybe they picked you just because you were there, you were available. They picked you because you were kind. They picked you because you believed their lies.
So these are our thoughts on how narcissists pick their victims. Now, as always, please feel free to share any thoughts or experiences in the comment box below. There have been some interesting discussions starting around these articles. If you like this article, if you find it helpful, please consider sharing whereever you want. Until next time, thanks for reading.
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