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Are You Drawn to Narcissists?

Have you found yourself more than once drawn to narcissists, only to regret it? Do you have a number of narcissistic people in your life?

If so, it is important to figure out why.

Some narcissistic people can initially seem charming, entertaining, even seductive. When you first meet them and they turn their focus on you, you may momentarily feel like the most important person in the room for them. Such experiences can be compelling.

It is only when the darker side emerges that many of us re-evaluate the connection. Narcissists’ charm turns to control, their entertaining turns to demanding self-centeredness, and their seductiveness reveals a shallow ability for real intimacy. The feeling of being the only other person in the room becomes fleeting as a narcissist’s attentiveness washes in and out like the tide.

For many of us, the draw of narcissists may go deeper. When we knowingly or unconsciously allow a narcissistic person to get close, doing so may reflect the hope that if we can find a narcissist who treats us well, it will make up for what we didn’t get years ago from a narcissistic parent or lover.

Such a longing to right the wrongs of the past is understandable. But relationships with narcissists are frequently disappointing and time wasting because narcissists care little about treating others well.

Of course, I am not suggesting that if you know one or more narcissistic persons, that you necessarily sought them out or somehow attracted them to you. There are likely more than 100 million people with narcissism on Earth, so the odds are that many of us will come across narcissists from time to time just in the process of living.

But if you feel unfulfilled in a relationship and wonder if a friend or partner is a narcissist, ask yourself:

  1. Why am I with them?
  2. Does this relationship remind me of any earlier relationship with a narcissistic person?
  3. Do I hope to change or reform them?
  4. Do I keep hoping they will someday see how good I am and appreciate, love, and accept me?

If you notice a pattern of consciously or unconsciously allowing narcissistic people into your life who treat you in unhealthy ways, this can be an important wake-up call.

Recognizing this pattern is nothing to feel ashamed about. It may reveal deep unmet needs from your past.

Human beings are inherently self-healing. Physical injuries, such as a cut in your finger, heal with little conscious effort on your part.

In the same way, our hearts and psyches are inherently self-healing. The more we protect them from further assault and seek out new, healthy experiences, the more readily we can recover from emotional and psychological wounds.

If you had multiple open wounds, you’d go to a hospital, not a landfill.

So when it comes to healing the wounds of past relationships with narcissistic people, why do we sometimes seek relationships that are more like landfills, full of risk for further injury and infection, rather than seeking healthier relationships that offer safety and care?

One reason may be that pursuing relationships with narcissists postpones facing a heartbreaking recognition:  Your narcissistic parent or other important person in your life wasn’t there for you, couldn’t be there for you, and will never be there for you.

Accepting and mourning that painful reality can allow you to focus on what is best for you and pick healthier people to be around, rather than trying to fight and win the last war.


Magnet image by Makc
Wake-up call by Jenny Cestnik
Self-healing by se media

Are You Drawn to Narcissists?

Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., MFT

Dan Neuharth, PhD, is a marriage and family therapist and best-selling author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has more than 25 years’ experience providing individual, couples and family therapy. Dr. Neuharth is the author of If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. He writes two blogs for PsychCentral: Love Matters and Narcissism Decoded. He is licensed as a marriage and family therapist in California, Florida, Texas and Virginia. His website:

Please note: Dr. Neuharth's posts are for information and educational purposes only. These posts are not intended to be therapy or professional psychotherapeutic advice, and are not a replacement for psychotherapy. I cannot give psychotherapeutic advice about your individual situation outside of a therapist-client relationship. The posting of these blogs and the information therein does not constitute the formation of a therapist-client relationship. Please consult your physician or mental health provider for individual advice or support for your health and well-being. If you are in crisis, please call your local 24-hour crisis or mental health hotline or dial 911.

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APA Reference
Neuharth, D. (2017). Are You Drawn to Narcissists?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jul 2017
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