Many victims of narcissists are firmly convinced that they have been “chosen” by their abusers because of their capacity to empathize, their innate sensitivity, compassion, and their ability to love and care. Indeed, these qualities tend to attract exploitative psychopathic predators who leverage these human emotions to their advantage.
“Classical” narcissists, however, are actually repelled by such displays of contemptible “mushy” frailties. They regard natural born empaths as deplorable and nauseating weaklings who deserve all the abuse and ill-fortune that life and the narcissist mete out to them.
Narcissists, therefore, are highly unlikely to be drawn to such displays of tenderness, understanding, and sympathy. They are bound to consider them fake manipulative ploys whose sole purpose is either to extract something of value from the gullible narcissist by harping on his emotional needs – or to hurt and torment him once having secured his attachment and reciprocal love. Narcissists attribute to empathic, sensitive persons their own faults, traits, and motives – a primitive psychological defense mechanism known as projection.
So, what is the profile of the “typical” victim of narcissistic abuse?
There is none. Victims come in all shapes, sizes, professions, genders, and ages. They vary in educational and professional attainment; levels of self-esteem and self-confidence; family background; personal history; socio-economic strata; political affiliations; and any other parameter you can think of. Narcissists are not choosy and have no predilections when it comes to sources of narcissistic supply. They shack up with anyone who shows them adulation and showers them with attention.
You ought to get rid of this self-defeating refrain: “I attract abusers like a magnet, I am a narcissist-magnet (N-magnet)”!
Review your life in minute detail. Over the years and in a variety of settings — your family, your workplace, church, voluntary organizations — many people of both sexes must have found your company desirable and your personality agreeable. Were they all narcissists? Surely not! Were all those who found you sexually attractive and sought your friendship and companionship monstrous abusers? Were you victimized in all your relationships whether romantic and intimate or not? There is no way you can answer any of these questions in the affirmative!
If you chose your partners badly, or if you did not extricate yourself post haste once you have been mistreated it must have been your doing! Magnets are passive, they have no judgment, and cannot exert control over their destiny. They are a bad simile: human beings are not an inert, helpless, mindless substance. They are aware of what they are doing; can distinguish right from wrong; can and do act upon information; and exercise judgment. Bad relationships, however harrowing, constitute opportunities to learn lessons. If you fail to do so, you have no one to blame but yourself!
Sam Vaknin, PhD, is the excellent author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” and other books about personality disorders.