Updated: Nov 14
We attract narcissists because we have what they want. That could be many different things. It could be something physical, mental, emotional or material. It depends on what the narcissist is looking for in that moment and what type of narcissist they are. An overt narcissist would be attracted to someone who is very physically attractive, has money, power or success. While a covert narcissist would be more attracted to someone who displays empathy, compassion, emotional support. Covert narcissists are usually looking for sympathy. Narcissists are looking for their ideal partner, someone who is perfect. They have magical thinking and really believe that there is a perfect person out there who will have everything that they want, need and desire, without expecting much in return from them. They have unrealistic expectations. When they discover that their partner makes a fault or mistake, or has a flaw or imperfection, they go from being this perfect person to being worthless and useless.
Narcissists experience black or white thinking or splitting, a person is either good or bad to them. They have difficulty with bringing together the contrast of both positive and negative qualities of themselves and other people into a realistic whole. This is used as a defense mechanism and narcissists have to do this to function. They have a script in their minds of how it is supposed to be, an unspoken fantasy which they expect you to fulfill. There may have been no agreement or suggestion regarding this script or unspoken fantasy, but they will expect you to know and agree to it and play it out as they see it in their minds. You will have no knowledge of this script or unspoken fantasy and even if you did, their expectations are unrealistic. Because their script is not realistic or reasonable, at some point the narcissist will discover a fault or mistake, a flaw or imperfection which causes them to view you in a negative light. This is when they become disappointed in you, as in their minds you are not as great as they once believed. You were supposed to be perfect in love, physical appearance, understanding, emotional support. In their script, you were always supposed to love and compliment them. You were never supposed to have a bad day or disagree with them. You were never supposed to have your own needs, your own feelings or any other interest that doesn't involve them. Their expectations are unrealistic, there is no person who can meet their expectations. If you depart or get sidetracked from their script of how it is supposed to go, they will feel hurt, disappointed and even betrayed. They expected you to be perfect and you failed to meet their expectations. Narcissists are looking for the perfect, unconditional love that they never got from their parents. That is the idealized version of love that they are looking for. They gravitate towards people who they believe can provide them with the perfect relationship.
Their idea of the perfect relationship is where they are admired, revered and loved greatly and excessively, in the same way that a parent might idolize a child. In an adult relationship, this is unreasonable and unrealistic. People who end up in relationships with narcissists are usually very empathic and compassionate. They are sensitive, talented and gifted. The narcissist is very envious of these qualities. While the narcissist may exaggerate their importance or abilities, they secretly believe that they are boring, ugly and talent-less. They believe that by associating themselves with someone who has all of the qualities that they do not have, they can soak up or obtain them for themselves. They admire your qualities, talents and traits and they will often try to imitate them. But it's not real, it's just an imitation, a copy and deep down they know that. It can become a game or a competition where they are constantly trying to prove their worth to you. But they soon become hateful and angry towards you for sharing your qualities, talents and traits with them, when they realize that they cannot soak up or obtain them as their own. This is when their envy becomes pathological jealousy and they feel as though you have taken something away from them. Now they want to destroy your qualities, talents and traits so that no one has them. They don't really want to destroy you, you're just an object, you don't really matter to them. They want to destroy the reminder of everything they don't have, everything they lack.
We don't attract narcissists more than anyone else. It's just that some people will leave at the first sign of abuse, or the first sign of something not being right. The difference is that we often don't do that. Most people choose to stay with the narcissist, long after they have discovered that they are abusive or not normal. The reason for this is because it might be familiar to you.
If you grew up in a dysfunctional family and had a narcissistic parent, you may not have realized that this is not normal. You may have been abused or neglected in your childhood, so when you experience this in an adult relationship it is going to be familiar to you and may even appear normal. People gravitate to and accept whatever is familiar to them.