Why Do We Pick Narcissists?
Well, first of all, I think they are plentiful. There seems to be a societal plague of them really. I am not sure why. I think it has something to do with society seeming to worship these very narcissistic traits and people. The more we look up to them, the more we want to be like them. So the more we create them in ourselves. Crazy?
Hear me out...
Most celebrities and sports personas have many narcissistic traits. I mean they have to. They must be concerned with their appearance. They live in a world that propagates unrealistic expectations about looks, body composition, performance, talent. Given how much they are worshipped and adored by the masses, they must disregard people. They simply cannot have regard for everyone, it is all they would ever do. They need praise all the time. And we give it to them. They blame fame, or Hollywood, the tabloids, etc for their shitty behavior. All of them fear that the bright hot spotlight will leave them. To a large degree their worlds are this altered reality that the rest of us seem to covet but really becomes a world unto itself that we cannot possibly really understand. And I personally believe, having had the displeasure of getting to know the Hollywood machine, that there are always strings attached and everyone has an angle. Everyone is looking at everyone else with hungry eyes and vacuous need. Don’t believe me, spend a little time in Los Angeles. Go to any coffee shop and ask. You will see.
Please understand. I am not saying that all stars and athletes are narcissists. I am saying that almost by definition, they are set up that way. Their survival in the machine of fame dictates that they display and maintain these very narcissistic traits.
And we all worship them. Want to be them. Emulate them. And this is what I believe has given rise to the great proliferation of narcissists and people with narcissistic traits. These are the personalities that are successful.
And it isn’t just stars and athletes. Look at the super rich. These traits are there too. In some, really, really there.
So my first premise is that our society rewards these traits and so they grow. So by definition there are more narcissists to choose from...
The older you get in life’s dating pool the more avoidant people you will find. Really if you look at the dating pool over 40, you have anxious attachers and avoidant attachers. Those secure people partnered up years ago and now only return to the dating pool because of the death of a spouse.
So if you are single and over 40, the dating pool is really filled with the anxious attachers chasing around the avoidant attachers...and then at times the avoidant become the anxious and vice versa. Don’t believe me? Get on a dating app. Spend one week. You will see.
And I will further argue that we pick narcissists for the same reason we love celebrity...they are flashy, attractive people that excite us. And because they are generally covered with beautiful facades, we tend to not really see the person underneath until it is way too late.
I can’t tell you how many posts I read about people recovering from their horrifically ruinous relationship or marriage to a narcissist. If I am able, I ask them why they selected this person in the beginning. What was it that attracted them to this person to begin with...and the story is always the same.
“They were so good looking, so out of my league but they adored me like no one ever had”
“They came on so strong, they told me they loved me and then showed up for me in ways that no one else ever had”
“The connection was so intense, and they were mysterious and made me swoon”
What we all seem to miss is this is part of the set up. A mad rush to knock you off your game, cause your common sense to be overpowered by the rush of all that dopamine. Fuck, I am not sure there is a person alive who could walk away from that.
And then we are in it.
In every single relationship I have ever been close enough to examine, this is always how it starts. Intense feelings, expression of deep feeling and emotion, strong sexual connection for a brief (weeks and months) period of time, the object of the narcissist has never been loved like this before and feels like they have finally met their match. All the dead ends have finally paid off and that fairy tale life we all have been taught to pine for, is finally, at long last, ours.
Throw some unresolved childhood trauma, addiction issues in on top and what you have is a smoldering fire that feels hot and passionate but it going to rage out of control in a very short time. But by the time you begin to see that maybe this person and relationship are not all you thought they would be, it is too late, or at least that is what it seems. You have moved in together. You may have gotten married or pregnant. Remember the narcissist needs constant praise, so locking you down is an important part of keeping you near.
Please, I mean no disrespect. I do not blame any of us for choosing these exciting but extremely detrimental people for partners. They are exciting, they are fun, they are sexy as fuck and alluring. My God, so fucking alluring. And in the beginning they make you feel that way about yourself. Often, when you find yourself incapable of generating those kinds of feelings for yourself about yourself.
And that is why we pick them.
They make us feel better about ourselves. They make us believe that we are wanted, beautiful beyond our own definition of what is possible with our current attributes, that we are special, THE ONE and loved. And these feelings are so intense we miss or ignore the warning signs and then by the time they start to surface, we are in so far that we become unclear how to get out. So we stay...often way past common sense would dictate.
Many of us have self esteem issues that are a narcissist’s playground. They capitalize upon them. They prey upon them. And just like they build us up with a lot of grand gestures and talk of love, they also can cut us to the quick causing us to doubt everything we have come to believe about the object of our desire, ourselves and the reality we are living in. And so we become lost.
They tell us they are better and we believe them because they never miss an opportunity to show us where we could be doing better.
They tell us we are not pulling our weight, even though we are doing the lion’s share of the work, and they are giving very little. They never stop talking about their accomplishments and tasks managed, while ignoring who is really doing all the heavy lifting.
When we find the temerity to call them out on their lack luster performance as a partner (if we ever do), they revert to the person we fell for in the beginning and give us tiny scraps always with the promise of more to come...which usually leads to more of nothing until it is all we have.
In my time mired in relationships gone wrong, the number one reason we end up partnered to someone who will and does do us wrong, is because we lack sufficient self worth and believe that this is something we can obtain by someone else, or the only way to get it is by someone else giving it to us, when nothing could be further from the truth.
We end up with narcissists or worse because they prey upon a lack of worth that seems so evident to them and may or may not be recognized in us. They reinforce a belief that we will never do better and that we are lucky to have them, this is especially true when the object of your desire feels like they are way out of your league.
In short, we pick narcissists because in the beginning they are flashy, cool, hot and because they want us...often like no other person ever has before. And we gorge on their interest and attention, so many of us often neglected and starved for these exact things for most of our lives. And we believe, erroneously, that worth is something that others bestow on us. And so we suffer. And we date, marry and reproduce with narcissists.
And that is why. It is really quite simple the reasons we do what we do. What is most complicated is how do we get out before we are so damaged that we can no longer discern fact from fiction, truth from a lie, delusion from sanity, love from manipulation.
No one wants to hear it. The people I talk to are always so eager to tell me how victimized they are by this horrific narcissist but the narcissist can only get us if we let them. We are the ones that grant the all access pass to our lives, our bodies, our souls and our bank accounts. We do that. Because we desperately want to believe that there is another person on the planet who sees us, is crazy about us and loves us like no other ever has or ever will. It is heady stuff.
Many an intelligent, educated, resourced person has been overcome by the narcissist’s charms only to find themselves lost on a sea of their own misery. Too far from shore to swim, too isolated from others to call for help, and in way too deep.
There is a solution. And a way out. Sinking to the depths of this particular ocean is optional, really. There is a life raft that can save you. It is costly and painful but the person you become on the other side, invincible to the sweet nothings offered up by narcissists everywhere.
I will not lie. It is hard work. But fuck if it isn’t worth every single penny and effort made. I can help. I have been in that proverbial ocean drowning on the tide of my own making...more than once. I am happy to share what I have learned in the hopes that you can save yourself, with a little love guidance and direction. You can move on with your life, immune to the narcissist and their charms.