September 22, 2019

Question: How can I end this streak of attracting narcissistic partners?

I’m very introverted by nature and not very good at reading people. In relationships I tend not to feel the need to lead hence I think I tend to attract narcissistic men.

Needless to say my relationships all end very badly and dramatically because it takes time for me to figure the other person out. And as much as I don’t feel the need to control, I don’t want to be controlled either!

My question is how can I end this streak of attracting narcissistic partners? Should I be more assertive? Is it a vibe I give off? Would I be better off single?

I would really appreciate your insight on this!


Dear Lily (name changed to protect anonymity):

First, you are not the first person to be sought after by narcissists. Don’t blame yourself! Narcissists typically target intelligent, attractive, successful people in order to feed their insecure egos. They are particularly drawn to introverts, interestingly. After a traumatic experience with a narcissist it is important to recognize their characteristics. 

In a nutshell, a narcissist’s belief in his/her superiority, expectation of admiration, arrogance, and lack of empathy all spring from a deeply wounded sense of self and inability to attach in a healthy way. A narcissist initially seems to be everything you ever wanted but on closer examination is simply playing a role to draw you in, and is not actually capable of true intimacy nor of being in a reciprocal relationship.

So: congratulations for being well out of it. There are many reasons to end a relationship with a narcissist sooner rather than later. For more information on that you can check out my blog about breaking up with a narcissist.

Ending a narcissistic relationship is more difficult than other break-ups. As you wrote in your question, narcissists are highly attractive. What that meant for you is that the narcissist presents as your dream man and, as you also pointed out, it takes time to figure out the truth. Don’t blame yourself for being “slow” to get the lay of the land. It is hard for even the most intuitive person to realize he or she is involved with a narcissist. That’s part of what makes them dangerous, and irresistible.

Once you have extricated yourself, moving forward involves a few steps. The blog linked above gives some key tips in how to put a narcissistic relationship behind you. In sum: allow zero contact, forgive yourself, say goodbye to what you never had but wanted so badly, give yourself a break, detox by educating yourself about narcissism, take time to process.

It is not uncommon for someone to have history with more than one narcissist. Avoid the blame game—don’t beat yourself up. The fact that you want to know: “How can I end this streak?” proves to me that you are committed to changing course. Excellent!

Here are some tips:

Set up and keep emotional and physical boundaries by knowing your core values.  We inadvertently teach people how to treat us—many times unconsciously—because of what we are willing to put up with. A boundary is not a barrier. You will let in what serves your highest good, but keep out all that is toxic and dangerous to you.

To help you know what your boundaries are:

  • clarify how you want to be treated
  • define your sense of who you are
  • set limits on what you are willing to give (in terms of time, energy, money)
  • understand where you end and the other person begins
  • commit to not letting your physical and emotional limits be violated

Many people find saying “no” to be agonizingly difficult, and yet being able to do so is part of having clear boundaries. No is not a rejection—of you or anyone. It is simply a clarification of boundaries, and relates to a given situation.

In identifying your core values (and you can get help with that here) use your own life experiences—the good and the not-so-good—to figure out what “sits right” with you, and what does not. The surer you are of you and your values, the easier it will be to spot a narcissist a mile away and choose not to get involved. Ending your “streak” will take self-reflection and guts, but it is possible, and it is in your capable hands.

As for whether or not you would be “better off single?” In a word – no! You’ve been through a traumatic experience that has shaken your core. Take the above advice and get to know yourself better. Create a list of exactly what YOU want and need in a relationship and settle for nothing less. You are going to be just fine. 

To further this conversation click the link below to get your complimentary “Dating Successfully” Coaching session.

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