Why Do I Attract Psychopaths and Narcissists?

Updated on June 16, 2019
Karli McClane profile image

Karli writes as a therapeutic outlet and with the hope that her articles will be useful to others who have suffered psychological abuse.


Predators Stalk Easy Prey

Why do I only attract psychopaths? This was a reader question, and it doesn't have a simple one-size-fits-all answer. If, on more than one occasion, you thought you'd found the perfect partner, but then it eventually became clear that you're dating (or, worse, married to) a psychopath, sociopath, or Cluster B personality disorder (Borderline, Narcissist, Histrionic), you're probably wondering why you seem to be a magnet for these types. In this article, I'll touch on a few of the more common reasons for getting into relationships with abusive partners, including low self-esteem, weak boundaries, and the need to rescue others.

A manipulative personality can survey a crowded room, and easily spot potentially malleable people. They'll turn on the artificial charm for any target who might provide them with money, status, or something else they crave. They enjoy wooing you with a false persona, duping you with their lies, and eliciting your secret desires and fears in order to use them against you.

Even if you don't have something tangible to offer, you can still provide amusement. Think of a cat playing with a bug. It's fun until the insect can no longer flit about, and then the cat becomes bored and finds something else to do. Sociopaths and personality disordered individuals do the same to their victims; they will psychologically torture you until you are an empty shell of the person you once were, and then they will move on to more lively targets.

If you would like to stop cycling through one abusive relationship after another, ask yourself if you have any or all of the traits listed below. If you do, you will need to learn how to make some positive changes in your thought processes and in how you interact with others. Narcissists and the ilk look for partners they can control, and here are four of the most common characteristics they seek out.

As always, I want to point out that I am not a licensed therapist, and I encourage you to seek one out for personal advice. My knowledge comes mostly from personal experience and extensive reading.


Co-Dependency/Low Self-Esteem

Co-dependents are people with low self-esteem. They are often referred to as "people-pleasers", as they avoid any type of conflict whenever possible, and they bend over backwards to make others happy. They tend to rely on external validation, and they can spiral into a negative chain of thoughts when someone becomes displeased with them. They are generally passive, following the lead of others. If this sounds like you, learning to be assertive is your first step toward warding off psychopaths and other parasites.

Weak or Non-Existent Boundaries

This one is so important. People without boundaries do not seem to understand when they overshare; if a new acquaintance asks a personal question, there is no need to outline your life story. People with strong boundaries find it off-putting when those they don't know well divulge too much personal information and/or come across as needy or desperate. And since strong boundaries are part of a solid foundation in a well-adjusted person, you don't come across as a suitable mate for him or her. The social predator, however, takes advantage of your oversharing to learn personal details that they can use to control you. They use your loneliness to their advantage, becoming too friendly too fast, endearing themselves to you. People without boundaries also disregard it when others behave in an inappropriate manner. For instance, when someone is oversharing with you, do you feel awkward, wondering why this acquaintance is relaying a plethora of personal details? Or do you feel special because this stranger seemingly felt compelled to confide in you? The latter means there's work to do.

Rescuer Tendencies

This is actually enabling on your part. Male or Female, adults who chronically appear to need rescuing by others generally just need to rescue themselves from their own self-created dramas. More often than not, they refuse to see it for what it is. They cycle through each new self-inflicted crisis, oblivious to the fact that they can hop off the hamster wheel as soon as they stop running. You can't rescue them, but by trying to solve their problems for them you validate their view of themselves as helpless victims. They will keep creating problems for you to "solve" and hoops for you to jump through. Save yourself, and leave them to either do the same or continue feeling sorry for themselves.


Conditioning by Dysfunctional Caregivers

Often, the previous three are the result of this. Parents and guardians are your most influential role models, and when they refuse to allow you to have healthy boundaries and develop autonomy, it can impede your ability to function as an adult. When your needs and emotions are regularly invalidated, it can cause you to suppress those needs in order to serve the needs of others. Perhaps your parents even belittled you for voicing your own opinions. That type of environment is not conducive to building a child's sense of self-worth. However, acknowledging this as an adult is the first step toward recovering from the emotional abuse. It can be done.

Look Inward for Answers

You are the only person who can answer the question of why you seem to attract only abusive partners. It very likely has something to do with one or more of the above mentioned issues, and there are probably several layers to it. It will take some introspection. You will need to ask yourself some tough questions, and be prepared to dig deep enough to find the possibly unpleasant answers. If your budget allows, work with a qualified therapist.

Whether you seek help or go it alone, stop dating until you've reached a point where you feel confident enough to not choose another manipulator. You may still attract some psychos. After all, you are a compassionate, generous, empathetic person, and the disordered will always feel compelled to exploit that. Learn to look for red flags of the personality disordered so you don't date or befriend them. Recognize them for what they are, and know that telling them to get lost is not harsh.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Karli McClane


    Submit a Comment
    • dashingscorpio profile image


      5 months ago

      Karli, I applaud your efforts!

      I just wanted people to realize it's not about who (they attract) but rather who they say "yes" to or find attractive that matters most!

      Too many people choose to {play the victim} when they ask why they are "attracting" a certain type instead of asking why they "choose" certain types. We (choose) who we spend our time with.

      Choose wisely. No one is "stuck" with anyone.

      Suffering is optional.

    • Karli McClane profile imageAUTHOR

      Karli McClane 

      5 months ago from USA

      dashingscorpio, you make some valid points. My goal is to assist those with unhealthy selection habits in learning to become "better shoppers" - thanks for the analogy.

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      5 months ago

      I would tell that reader you have no control over who is attracted you. Whether you're Jenifer Lopez, Halle Berry, or Gigi Hadid no doubt there are millions of men who find them attractive.

      Each of us (chooses) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

      Each of us has our own mate selection process/Must haves list.

      Each of us has our own boundaries and "deal breakers".

      If you're experiencing one bad dating/relationship experience after another it's probably time for you to reexamine your mate selection process. The only thing all of your failed relationships have in common is (you).

      If you go to the grocery store to purchase an apple but buy an onion instead whose fault is that? Do you curse the onion for not being an apple? No! You learn to become a "better shopper"!

      It's not about who is attracted to you but rather who YOU find attractive.

      Nothing happens until (you) say "yes" to someone!

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde


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