A Therapist Explains Why Being Attracted To A Narcissist Is A Sign Of Deeper Issues
Why are you falling in love with someone who can only love themselves?
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | April 24, 2023
Narcissists can exude confidence, charisma, and charm, which can appeal to many people. A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that some narcissists' magnetic personalities, physical attractiveness, and social boldness make them desired short-term dating prospects.
However, it's important to remember that behind the facade, narcissists often lack empathy, they can be manipulative and controlling, and they can have a distorted sense of self-worth. Contrary to how it may seem, they might not actually value or prioritize a partner's needs or feelings.
Being in love with a narcissist can be complicated and confusing. It's important to reflect on your reasons for feeling attracted to a narcissist and assess whether this relationship is healthy and fulfilling for you.
Here are three research-backed reasons you may be pulled toward someone with narcissistic traits.
#1. You have a need to be entertained
Narcissists have a unique ability to entertain others, as it helps them satisfy their grandiose cognitions, says an article published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. This makes them an attractive choice for those seeking constant stimuli from a partner.
A person looking to distract themselves from negative emotions, or cope with feelings of boredom or dissatisfaction, may find themselves in relationships with people (e.g., narcissists) that create emotionally intense stimuli (positive or negative). This comes across in many forms, such as:
- Enjoying humor via memes and/or other media
- Sharing interests and engaging in fun activities
- Being attracted to horror movies or violent media
While sharing moments of excitement and passion with a partner can help build positive memories, an over-reliance on them – to the point that it starts to feel like escapism – may be signs of:
- Lacking emotional intimacy or connection
- Deeper unresolved emotional issues
- Addictive and/or unhealthy patterns of behavior
Exercise extreme caution when choosing a partner on the basis of their ability to entertain you.
#2. You feel the need to be protected
This phenomenon can be understood much like the 'damsel in distress' plotline, where one partner prefers to be deferential to, and dependent on, the other partner.
Each partner needs to carry their own weight in a relationship. Often, when the dependency equation goes out of whack, it's a sign of:
- Low self-esteem or self-compassion
- A lack of self-confidence
- Skewed knowledge of what a healthy relationship looks like, due to a lack of healthy role models
While you may feel a sense of protection while in the presence of self-assured narcissist, remember that they will assure themselves before assuring those that care about them.
#3. You possess similar traits
An unsettling truth for people with a history of being attracted to narcissists is the possibility that you may be attracted to a version of you. A study in Personality and Individual Differences found that it is normal for couples to share traits with their romantic partner.
We naturally look for people who feel familiar to us and that we can share things in common with. It creates a feeling of comfort, understanding, and can lead to fewer conflicts. However, when this instinct steers you toward a relationship with a narcissist, this can be problematic because a narcissist's way of loving is also mirroring your behavior to get close to you. What may appear as similar interests and habits could be a ruse to create an disingenuous connection.
However, it is less of an issue if you genuinely possess narcissistic personality tendencies. Other research published in Personality and Individual Differences shows that individuals with narcissistic traits tend to find an ideal partner in someone who has similar self-absorbed tendencies.
It is hard to stay away from the pull of a magnetic personality. But, relationships that start from a place of adulation aren't guaranteed to blossom in the long-term.