Some people find themselves in a relationship with a narcissist, claw their way out, and do their best to write-off or avoid other narcissists for the rest of their lives.
Others are simply magnets for narcissists.
They ditch one romantic relationship with a narcissist – only to find themselves in a new abusive situation just months later. Or perhaps they continue to put up with narcissistic abuse from coworkers or family members.
If the latter hits close to home, you aren’t alone.
You’ve probably asked yourself, “is there something wrong with me that makes me vulnerable to narcissistic abuse and exploitation?”
The answer is both “Yes” and “No”.
There is nothing wrong with you – far from it – but there’s a chance you have certain qualities that make you very attractive to narcissists, like moths to a flame or leeches to a host.
In fact, these are probably some of your best qualities. Abusers know this and that’s why they use narcissistic manipulation tactics to exploit you and use your good nature for their own gain.
Narcissists and Empathy
It’s a common misconception that narcissists lack empathy.
Empathy simply means having the ability to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Empathy can absolutely exist without other characteristics like compassion – this is called cognitive empathy.
Torturers use cognitive empathy to get inside their victims’ heads and cause unspeakable pain.
Narcissists don’t lack empathy – they lack compassion, remorse, and humanity.
Using cognitive empathy, the abuser is able to seek out and target individuals with highly compassionate, loving, and caring empathetic traits. This is why the narcissist finds it so easy to exploit and manipulate your empathetic traits, found below.
7 Empathic Traits That Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation
Narcissists are attracted to people with specific qualities. These qualities give the abuser a foot in the door to carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics and suck the life force from their victims.
Other people might not put up with narcissistic abuse past a very early point. But people with empathic traits are different: they have a desire to help, heal, and fix people.
They believe people deserve unconditional love – even narcissists.
With these traits, you might as well be wearing a red bullseye for narcissists! But, you don’t have to put up with it, and you CAN change how you react to narcissistic abuse. Identifying what draws narcissists to your personality is the first step.
1. You’re Trusting and Have Integrity
Some people believe that trust must be earned upon meeting someone. After all, how can you trust someone you’ve just met?
For you, trust doesn’t have to be earned from the get-go: you naturally trust people to treat you with respect and do the right thing.
Why? Because you have integrity yourself and you’re a trustworthy person. You expect that people are worthy of your trust until they’ve broken it.
Narcissists know that you’re naturally trusting, and they use this to their advantage to carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics against you. They know they can get away with lies on top of lies because they know you really want to trust them.
2. You Value Equality and Treat Others with Respect
You believe that relationships are a 50/50 experience and you treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
When you first met the narcissist, they probably obliged your need for basic equality and dignity. But brick by brick, their charade started to crumble. Until one day, you find yourself apologizing because you had the nerve to let the narcissist know they hurt your feelings.
The narcissist used their cognitive empathy to get into your head and exploit your compassionate empathy.
3. You Refuse to Give Up
To narcissists, people with compassionate empathy are like a drug. Every time they beat you down and carry out their narcissistic manipulation tactics to exploit you, they get their fragile ego fix – and no one abusing drugs wants their supply to run out.
The narcissist knows you’ll never give up (or so they think) because it’s in your nature to see things through until the end. That’s why they cling to you and won’t let go. That’s why they seemingly “love you” and abuse you at the same time.
4. You Love Unconditionally
This is perhaps one of the most bittersweet traits that makes you a magnet for narcissists. They know that when you love someone, you love them unconditionally.
This can apply to all types of relationships including romantic partners, friends, and family members. You believe that everyone is deserving of unconditional love.
The narcissist understands this about you and fully exploits it. In between fights and abusive slurs, you may find the narcissist will briefly apologize, shower you with praise, and promise to change. This is all a façade to make you believe that they too love you unconditionally – and they use it to keep you hooked until the next outburst.
5. You’re Honest and Compassionate
To the narcissist, honesty and compassion aren’t traits one should brag about. These traits are weaknesses that should be hidden.
Why? Because someone could exploit these vulnerable traits – and that’s exactly what narcissists do.
In the beginning, the narcissist will pretend to appreciate your honesty and compassion. However, slowly but surely, they will use these traits against you.
Did you tell the narcissist your worst fears? Things that make you sad or mad? Trauma from your past?
The narcissist will freely dig all of that up every time they need to carry out narcissistic manipulation tactics and exploit your genuine (and very valid) emotions. Narcissists don’t hate your honesty – they love to exploit it every chance they get.
6. Your Desire to Heal Others and Fix People
You believe that if everyone had a loving environment in which to thrive, and the right opportunities, they could turn themselves around.
The narcissist knows that you have a burning desire to truly heal them, so they cling to you for dear life. They know that you’ll never turn down their fights and you’ll always react emotionally to their abuse. This is how the narcissist manipulates you for their own gain.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to fix anyone who doesn’t want to be fixed – let alone a narcissist.
No matter how many times they tell you they want and intend to change their ways, this is just a lie to give you hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
7. You Have Trouble Setting Boundaries
As someone who loves unconditionally, is automatically trusting, and has a strong desire to fix people, it only makes sense that you have trouble setting boundaries.
This is perhaps one of the first traits narcissists identify when they search for a new victim because it’s one of the easiest to spot. People who are good at setting boundaries are very vocal about their boundaries upon meeting someone and narcissists can easily sniff this out.
Narcissists are drawn to empathic people who have trouble setting boundaries because they know you’ll put up with their narcissistic manipulation and abuse as long as they can dish it out.
And by the time you decide to draw any kind of boundary – it’s far too late. The narcissist will simply laugh in your face, gaslight you, and tear it down.
Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics – 5 Red Flags to Watch Out For
If you think you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, look out for these key narcissistic manipulation tactics; they’re dead giveaways:
- Gaslighting -The narcissist rewrites your experience and says you’re remembering their behavior wrong.
- Perpetual Victim – The narcissist is always the victim, even when you bring up an instance when they’ve harmed you.
- Degrading Your Worth -The narcissist will never support anything you do unless it benefits them. They’ll remind you that you’re worthless and will fail at everything
- Controlling -The narcissist will get upset if you go anywhere or do anything, even going to the grocery store, without running it by them first.
- Deflecting – The narcissist can never do anything wrong. They will always deflect blame back to you or someone in their immediate vicinity.
What Should You Do If You’re Being Manipulated by a Narcissist?
If the points above ring true, you’re likely in a relationship with a narcissist. This abuser could come in the form of a romantic partner, mother, father, friend, or coworker.
If you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, the only way to end the abuse is to go No Contact. If you don’t cut the narcissist out for good, they will continue with their narcissistic manipulation tactics to bleed your empathy dry until you’re nothing but a shell of the person you once were.
Narcissism is a personality disorder and it’s important to understand that you cannot fix or change anyone. You can only control and change your own actions – and ultimately your own life.