Attracting Narcissists


If you know the word narcissist and you’ve found that you have some in your life, you may be wondering how the hell did I attract them?  As I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve realized the secret to the bunch of narcissists I have in my life.  Maybe this applies to you too?

Mine were biological family and the family I married into (and now divorced).  But the grooming that I received as a child set me up for my ability to attract them.  I was a compliant child, a people pleaser, and raised by a very strict family where being perfect was required, of me, but not of my siblings.  So in order to receive love from my parents, I worked hard at being perfect and they trained me from the start that love was conditional.  Do as I say or I won’t love you and poof!  I became a magnet for narcissists.  Yes, it’s that easy because I would jump through hoops for love and didn’t believe that if I didn’t earn your love, then I wouldn’t get it.  My self-esteem was not developed in a healthy way, but after many years of working on myself, I can see that now and I am ridding myself of that pattern of abuse.  Because I won’t fall for that line anymore.

Feeling co-dependent on someone for love is a narcissist’s dream find.  Wearing your heart on your sleeve and trusting others easily, makes you an irresistible magnet for them.  Being vulnerable and loving easily makes you a perfect target and the match is made with little effort on their part.  Narcissists woo you instinctively with praise and lots of love at first.  It’s a dangerous dance that I fell into time and again because I was trusting.  I didn’t see beyond the kindness that they showed me and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.  Now I don’t blame them because I feel sorry for narcissists because they don’t know healthy love.  I was willing to give more than my share to remain in their lives.  I am easy going and I accept people for who they are and I don’t try to change them.  But they changed me into a neurotic worrier who was never stable in the knowledge that they loved me.  Does any of this resonate with you?

It was easier to back down and let them have their way which is why I was their dream partner, dream friend, dream sibling, dream child, dream daughter-in-law.  I didn’t stand up for myself when I was bullied by their controlling insistence in whatever circumstance it was – attending a party, dressing a certain way, being perfect etc.  I just went along with it to keep the peace because it was important to them and I was ok in going with the flow.  But after awhile, the ante was raised and it was more perfection needed, more requirements and more, more, more for them to feel good.  I tried a few times to exert my independence, but that was met with the silent treatment and then followed by my being told that I was being bad which of course, was my Achilles heel.  I never wanted to be seen as bad or mean so I backed down even more and their power grew.  A true viscous circle ensued.  I scurried to make them happy and put my happiness and my needs below theirs.  After awhile, I lost me along the way and became all about what everyone else wanted from me.  I am embarrassed to say that to you because it makes me look weak when I thought I was being strong because I loved others for who they were, above myself.

And yet, I will say that with my kids it was way different.  I am with them all together healthier and it is by their love that I have healed since the separation and subsequent divorce.  I hated the conditional love that I grew up in, so I never raised my kids with that mindset.  I never hit them nor expected them to be perfect all the time.  I disciplined with respect and a loving heart.  With my kids, I was the healthy me, but with the narcissists, I was still under their spell.  But my kids never really fell under their spell which I find interesting.  They came into this world with more knowledge of love and people than I did and I have learned so much from them.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have the kids I do and it is my prayer that I didn’t screw them up like I had been.  Now I see a new me emerging and I am so happy and healthy.

Because innately, I am a loving being who is accepting of others behaviors and love them anyway.  But the healthy part of me now, I’ve learned, is that I don’t have to give 110% to only receive a smitten of criticizing love in return.  I want a healthy give and take in my love life.  I have many friends who role model this healthy way of living and I surround myself with them.  It’s amazing to me that my kids haven’t caught the narcissist bug, but they’ve had a healthy upbringing surprisingly.  I don’t know how it happened, but I thank God that it did.  They see things that I didn’t in my marriage and in my relationships with the Ex’s and my own families.  Clearly they announce with observer mode and they are so on the money!  It’s frightening to think that it took me so long to clearly understand the dynamic.  I mean, I knew I wasn’t happy about the situation with the narcissists, but I couldn’t figure out a way to extricate myself and keep a relationship with them from afar.  Because you’re either IN or you’re OUT of the narcissist life because you either fall in line with their expectations or you are a traitor.  And I guess I am banned because I’m divorced from their son and I’m on my way to being tossed from my own family because I’m not doing what they want all the time in the way they want me to do it either.

Because as my brother told me, I am annoying because I only connect with people.  He likened me to our dad who was happy to make someone else’s day brighter or to reach out on someone’s birthday to say hello.  I remember people and to my brother, that’s being less than because I’m not concentrating on keeping up with the Joneses or bragging about my charity work in order for people to see how great I am.  I just quietly go about my day, being me and connecting with people by being myself.  People naturally flock to me which he hates.  They tell me about their lives and share their stories with me and I share mine.  He hates that because he distrusts people, which is another trait of the narcissist.  They can be disconnected from empathy for others.  They are always thinking something distasteful about people and they don’t trust anyone.  It’s really sick in a way and sad.  But that’s why I was such an easy prey for the narcissists in my life.

I know that now and I am loving them from afar, from a huge distance and the change is awful.  As for the exlaws, they broke the connection first so it’s been easier.  I’m still in contact with them, but rarely which is great for me.  After all, they are my kids’ grandparents and the ex’s family, so I remain kind.  But for my family, it’s going to be an epic hardship as I move away slowly from them because they will lose control and they don’t like that.  The biological part is the only piece that kept us together this long, the guilt of the biological connection.  Because really, I wouldn’t have put up with that treatment if they had been friends.  My friends don’t act like they do.  But implanted in me was family is family and we love them for all their quirks no matter what.  A La Familia, good, bad or ugly.  But at age 50, I am realizing that I don’t have to suffer the family narcissism.  I am ok to not be there because it’s expected on holidays.  I can do my own thing with my kids and I’m starting now this Christmas and it will be hard for me and I will probably shed tears because they will throw a fit of epic proportions.  But in this this lifetime, I need to be happy and healthy and loved to role model for my kids.

Thanks for reading.  Please share if this helped you.  Please write to me if you have anything you’d like to share.




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23 Responses to Attracting Narcissists

  1. SDC says:

    You have already realized everything that is crucial in letting go of narcissists. Not the least of which, you either have to be all the way in which will ruin you…or all the way out which *will* save you. Its not in our nature to cut people out like this and to us it seems selfish to save ourselves by leaving. But the time comes when self preservation is the only thing that matters. And that it is not selfish. Its healthy. I share a lot of your characteristics and people get to know me that one way…until I have actual feelings or opinions or I get hurt and say something contrary to that. Then Im a jerk, or unpredictable…and we all know its easier for someone to just stop talking to you and figuratively unfollow you, rather than to say Im sorry, and work through it. Which is my instinct, to heal problems over with adult conversation and words. But like you…I’ve also reached an age where I’m not going to be walked on and disrespected just to ‘keep the peace’. That’s been my life up until this point and I can’t do it anymore. I need to teach my kids better and focus on them. Abuse is inexcuseable and with more sensitive people, these types can be just as pervasive as physical abuse when it comes to how it affects us and our relationships with our families. I can’t let it steal from my children or myself anymore. Rambling but…yes I get it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh this post is brilliant. You are spot On! I have the exact same experiences and personality traits. It took me sooo long to realize it though. My mother is a raving narcissist, and until I came to grips with that I had so much trouble functioning. Now that I’ve accepted the way I was raised, I can finally start to heal. Great great work!! Well done

    Liked by 3 people

  3. TJ Fox says:

    It is kind of stunning the number of parallels I see between our experiences. I have to laugh at myself for seeing yet another thing that I’ve been naive about, that there really aren’t that many of those kinds of people in the world. Sadly, there are tons. I’ve wondered how it is that they keep getting away with it and I realize that the only way to deal with them is exactly what you said, in or out. They just move on along as though nothing happened when someone shifts into that out spot.

    As for your kids, they have grown up seeing what a healthy, loving relationship looks like in the way that you love and raise them so it is easier for them to identify when a relationship isn’t healthy. Because we were raised in it, we didn’t know any differently and it took way longer to see what seems to be easy for our kids.

    I think the biggest differences between your experience and mine is that, when I was younger at least, I really struggled to fall in line and “fit”. I rebelled against being forced into a certain role and just accepting it because it was expected, but I was just worn down over time because nothing I did ever changed the situation. Even then, most of the time, it was just appearing to do so on the surface. My response was to avoid the situation in the first place by not having that conversation or wearing something when I was going to be around them. I found myself compartmentalizing my life. What was safe with these people over here wasn’t with those. After a while you start to wonder which part is the real part and which is pretend.

    I also find it interesting in that many of us started really putting or foot down when it started to show a potential to damage our kids. In the end, all the stress, heartache, tears and pain of walking away from those relationships are so incredibly worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      Oh gosh yes! The clothing choices! Or choosing to not reveal something that you knew would start a discussion that you’d rather not have! How true. I spent a lifetime of watching out so nobody would get mad because that was worse.
      Yes, my courage of putting my foot down comes from protecting my kids and turning 50! I was the same way! I avoided the situations, clothing etc. in order to keep peace too. We are not so very different I think TJ…and I’m glad we are getting healthier and letting go of the toxicity in our lives too. xo

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You are spot on in everything that you have written, let’s face it most of us experience hurt by narcissistic people. I wish you had been around for me when I was newly single. I’ve always opened my heart and put my trust in people expecting them to be honest like me. But Janie isn’t this all part of living and learning. Parents do not go all out to ruin their children’s lives, most do the best that they can. This always brings me back to that old saying when we are young we love, when we are older we judge, then finally we accept and forgive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      I love that quote Elaine as it’s so true. I know parents aren’t out to ruin their kids lives. I know mine weren’t. They did the best they could with what they knew and repeated their childhood experiences into mine. It’s hard to not consistently repeat what we know, but when we know better, it’s to everyone’s advantage to not do what was done to us when we can.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Create Space says:

    I admire your honesty, courage, determination and ability to learn so much from your experience! Keep writing Janie and maybe you should consider talking about this whole area. So many would benefit from your insights! Wishing you an amazing Christmas free of the irrational expectations of others. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you! I would love to talk with others on this journey to help them heal…hmm…maybe a class? Or a book? Not sure if am organized enough for a book though…I seem to write whatever comes to me when I blog with no rhyme or reason…but thank you! I hope you have a great Christmas season too! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: See? They really ARE everywhere. | This Ain't no Fairytale

  7. Chosen says:

    Thank you for sharing. Being caught between the storms of two narcissistic circles can knock the wind out of you. It is good to know that others are braving the journey. Hope is within our reach.


    • janieleeds says:

      Hope is always there when we share what helps us with others who are experiencing similar issues I think. Thanks for stopping by. I am off to check out your blog too!


  8. Chosen says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have the same to cyclones of origin. Through divorce I have begun to regain my sight. Divorcing in my late 30s and being the target of a mob smear campaign has helped me to decide to live and reach to thrive at all costs.


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