You finally found a guy who’s not just great, but amazing. He’s charming. He’s helpful. He’s a great listener. The moment he came into your life, things instantly improved. Even your mother liked him. Everyone did.
For the first few months, everything was magical. The relationship was perfect. Sure, you hit a few minor bumps that seemed like they could be red flags, but you figured everyone has bad days and he would never intend to be such a jerk. Besides, he apologized.
Except that lately, you’re the one doing all the apologizing.
You don’t always know what you did wrong, but it’s just easier that way. He tells you that you trigger his moodiness, although he won’t tell you exactly what you did or why it upset him so much. In fact, there’s a lot he’s secretive about.
You keep trying to let him know it’s safe to talk to you, but he has these super strong walls up. The next thing you know, things escalate. He gets furious for what seems like no reason, and you break up. You beg for him to take you back, or maybe he begs you. You get back together — and then it starts up all over again.
He was an emotional parasite. The type of person who took advantage of your kindness, and in the worst ways, tried to capitalize off of them.
You try to remind yourself that you’re a good person who is worthy of love, even as you doubt your ability to avoid him again. Part of you feels blindsided and betrayed, but you also feel empathy and pity for him. His life hasn’t been easy. He’s told you all about those people who hurt him in the past. It makes sense that he’d be so angry … right?
Deep down you know he’s wrong for you, but you can’t help but feel the need to stand by a man who has already been through so much.
Here’s the truth. None of it was your fault because narcissists are the ultimate emotional predators.
Chances are you’ve heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder by now, but someone doesn’t have to have a full-blown case of NPD to have enough narcissistic traits to make them dangerous to get involved with.
It may almost seem like YOU didn’t get involved with HIM, but rather that HE got involved with YOU. One day you were flirting with this guy you thought seemed great, and the next thing you knew you were in an instantly intense and committed relationship, and you can’t remember exactly how that happened.
That’s because narcissists are masters of survival. It’s as though they have a sixth sense for identifying the people most likely to fall for their charismatic persona, and most likely to stick around and take care of them even after they reveal their repulsive inner-selves.
If you can identify with the qualities in the seven statements listed below, you may be at higher-than-average risk for being targeted by a narcissist:
#1. You have something the narcissist wants (money, power, position, lifestyle).
In a relationship where a narcissist is involved, there’s a unique dynamic that comes into play. It starts with a hook — a dream, often one you think is about you but that for the narcissist is all about control.
Sometimes the narcissist will come across as helpful, then when things don’t work out, the table gets turned on you. Once you’ve caught on, or try to get him to take accountability, the tension only escalates.
#2. You have a caregiver’s nature and a strong need to help others.
For a time, the relationship seems to be a match made in heaven, but it’s a fast ticket to hell. In the early stages of the relationship, the generousity and kindness of the caretaker is expressed. The giver has someone to dote on, and being the center of the universe works out well for the selfish needs of an emotional vampire.
Yet, as the relationship becomes more intimate, the narcissist absorbs the relationship’s time, energy and resources while gaining control.
#3. You have a compassionate, empathetic disposition.
Narcissists have a reason for everything that happens in their life and nothing is ever their own fault. Of course, you listen and want to help, but if you catch yourself saying, “I was just trying to be nice…” more and more often, and if a part of you feels used, chances are there’s an unhealthy dynamic at play.
In fact, empathetic personalities and caretaker-types are prime candidates for emotional vampires.
#4. You grew up in a dysfunctional environment.
Your past can make it difficult to spot boundary violations when they happen, which might lead you to ignore your gut instincts when someone violates your trust. Narcissists don’t like boundaries. If a person has an inability to set them, keep them, or accept blame when one has been violated, a predator-type senses the weakness and uses it to their advantage.
Sometimes, narcissists will perform hero-like acts, but rather than encourage independence or empowerment in their partner, they will use those acts as a way to create dependency.
#5. You are lonely and feel a desperate need to find love.
“Find a need, fill a need,” is the narcissist’s mantra. A person who has low self-esteem is easier to control than someone with a high sense of self-confidence. At first, the intensity feels good because it can be confused with passion, but a narcissist is incapable of transparency.
Slowly the intensity wanes and a cold, calculated disposition leaves you wondering what went wrong and striving to find the loving person you thought you knew.
#6. You willingly accept blame — even for things you didn’t do.
As the relationship deteriorates, narcissists use guilt and blame to “prove” that you are the problem. Empathetic and sensitive individuals are extremely vulnerable to the blame game because of their reflective nature. The narcissist will say, “If you hadn’t done ____ or ____, I wouldn’t have to get so angry.”
By redirecting your attention to what you did “wrong,” the narcissist diverts attention away from their own unhealthy behavior.
#7. You avoid conflict and confrontation.
Narcissists feed off of fear, and use it to create smokescreens and mirrors. Non-confrontational people often are afraid of abandonment, guilt, or anything that may lead to the loss of an important relationship. When narcissists react violently, they trigger these fears in those who will bend over backward to keep things calm and peaceful.
Counter-intuitively, the more you avoid conflict, the more attractive you become to a narcissist.
You don’t have to be a victim ever again. Build on what you learned from your experience and empower your intuition, so that in the future, you’ll know how to avoid another narcissist if they target you.
Listen to your gut, follow your instincts, and remember that if it’s too good to be true, chances are, it is.