They Make You Feel Good
“Narcissists like to get a lot of attention, and they will pick people and partners who will be good at giving them the attention they crave,” UKCP registered psychotherapist Toby Ingham tells us. “To start with it can feel good, powerful and exciting to be taken into the narcissist’s confidence but the benefit will likely be short lived. At first you feel special too, like a chosen one. Then you are dropped and left abandoned as they are drawn to something that is even better at making them feel good.”
According to Toby, what a narcissist is really looking for is someone to tell them how special they are. “A bit like the magic mirror in Snow White, you feel as though you’re being drawn into a special romance but really, you’re not – you’re just there to make them feel good.”
Their Confidence Is Attractive
In a post on Psychology Today, UCLA Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences Professor Joe Pierre says adaptive traits such as self-sufficiency, confidence, ambition and leadership are attractive qualities when looking for a partner. A key trait of narcissists is confidence – they are attractive because they think of themselves as attractive. They believe in their own value, so this confidence and charisma become qualities that pull others in, that makes them the life and soul of the party. These, Pierre says, are powerful attributes when it comes to looking for a mate. Obviously, the unattractive personality traits like arrogance, entitlement and a lack of empathy will soon shine through.
Often, one’s attraction to narcissists is out of their control and can be influenced by an unconventional upbringing. “People who were raised by a narcissistic parent typically end up drawn to repeat these kinds of relationships,” explains Toby. This is called “repetition compulsion”, a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats a traumatic event or its circumstances over and over again – including re-enacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again.
“It is often the case that people who were themselves given a limited amount of love and attention will be particularly drawn to the glittery, sparkly, special aura the narcissist can create,” Toby continues. “It might be that you’re drawn to the possibility of getting that special attention you crave from this new partner, but it’ll likely go wrong for you like it did before.”
For people who often find themselves in this pattern, Toby advises that you must identify what it is that captures your attention and then use it to break the cycle – starting with what birthed these bad habits in the first place. “You need to consciously stop dating narcissists – they’ll never be able to give you the love and care you need. It’ll be better if you can commit to repairing your own childhood experience of being dropped by your narcissistic parent.”
So, What Makes A Narcissist?
While narcissists aren’t the nicest people to date, they also come with their own set of personal problems. “Narcissism is a complicated disorder and frequently forms the basis of other psychological problems,” Toby explains. “These are problems that developed at an early age when the person was not given appropriate and ordinary care and attention.” As such, they have a limited capacity to look after other people, and will likely have a very limited ability to give someone love. Their need for attention also often means they are unpredictable – one minute you feel important and enough for them, and the next you’ll feel abandoned as they elsewhere for newer and better attention.
Still unsure whether you’re dating a narcissist? Here are Toby’s top six signs for spotting one:
1. Narcissists have a high need for attention and to feel loved and admired by others.
2. They may be particularly active on social media; they like to show how great things are for them.
3. People with narcissistic issues tend to be very sensitive to criticism.
4. They are self-important, and think their ideas warrant special attention.
5. They have a sense of superiority and sometimes inferiority.
6. Narcissists get jealous of you giving other people attention.
For more information, visit TobyIngham.com
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