A lot of us like to think we’d never fall under the spell of a narcissist.
But the sad truth is that these master manipulators have sneaky tactics that often fly under the radar. We may not even see them for what they are until it’s too late.
You may also be surprised at the qualities that a narcissist targets in others.
Because it’s not necessarily the shy and retiring types, often they go for people with bags of confidence too.
The point is that falling for a narcissist’s charm isn’t a failing within you.
So what exactly makes you a target for a narcissist?
Even though it can be a real mixture of things, in particular, it’s often the following traits…
1) Empathetic and compassionate
First and foremost, you are someone who cares about others.
If you didn’t, you would walk away at the first sign of a problem.
In order to get you invested, a narcissist needs you to be a kind person.
Whilst they are usually totally lacking in any empathy of their own, they feed off other people’s.
That understanding approach that someone takes towards them is how they get their needs met. It’s how they gain the attention, praise, sympathy, and admiration that they crave so deeply.
Empathy prompts us to understand where someone else is coming from.
But the danger in understanding is that it can also lead to a greater tolerance to the things we should firmly be saying no to.
We must remember:
You can simultaneously understand someone’s behavior, without accepting it.
Are you the sort of person who bends over backward for those you care about?
Would you give someone the shirt off your back to help them?
This can be used against you when a narcissist has you in their sights.
Because what starts out as small favors continues to grow. Before you know it, you’re running around after them.
Everything becomes about their preferences and desires — even when it means putting your own to one side.
That’s why being accommodating can incorporate neglecting yourself if you’re not careful.
Unless you have very clear and firm boundaries, a narcissist can slowly encroach upon you.
If you don’t accommodate their wishes, they may try to make you feel selfish or guilty about it.
Being empathetic is one thing, but being nurturing means that caring for others runs to your core.
Your own sense of identity may even rest on being someone who looks after others. Providing for and attending to people feels instinctive to you.
Nurturing people are huge givers. Meanwhile, narcissists are very big takers.
So it’s understandable that they will gravitate towards those who they can suck more and more from.
Nurturers may well appease a narcissist and give them the comfort they seek.
Being agreeable can be a wonderful thing.
I know several naturally agreeable people in my life. By “naturally” I mean they aren’t trying to suck up or change themselves in any way.
Undoubtedly they are incredibly likable for their pleasing and pleasant company.
But sometimes agreeable people also fall into people-pleasing behavior.
This usually happens when they are trying too hard to be seen in a positive light.
So they may be more inclined to do things that they don’t really want to do. Or they may constantly bend their will to others in order to avoid conflict.
When this happens, they are in a position to be exploited.
As we will soon see, narcissists don’t necessarily go for people who are down on themselves.
But there is no denying that low self-esteem can always be taken advantage of by a narcissist.
Their lack of confidence and self-belief becomes a vulnerability that leaves them exposed.
Sometimes people may have a history of abuse or past trauma that makes them more susceptible to users and abusers.
It’s easier to end up stuck in a toxic relationship when you don’t feel good enough.
You can end up turning the blame on yourself and feel as though you somehow deserve the mistreatment you receive.
If you take people at face value, you most likely give them the benefit of the doubt.
This can be a wonderfully trusting stance. But perhaps there is a sense of naivety mixed in there too sometimes.
Either way, you like to see the best in people.
But that can mean you are also easily impressed, and so taken in by a narcissist’s show.
Because you end up looking up to the image a narcissist portrays, you may well shower them with admiration.
And there is nothing a narcissist enjoys more!
They bask in the warm glow other others’ appreciation to inflate their own sense of self.
7) Lonely or desperate
Of course, loneliness is more of a state of being rather than a personality trait.
But there’s no doubt that a deep sense of loneliness impacts our behavior.
If you feel like nobody really understands you then of course you are more likely to crave that sort of connection…and be willing to do anything to keep hold of it.
That’s when narcissists can sweep in and seemingly offer you all of the care and attention you have been longing for.
They often employ love bombing techniques that make you feel oh-so-special in the beginning.
But sadly, it isn’t long before the tables have turned and they are the ones demanding from you.
Up until now, you may have had the impression that victims of narcissists are more likely to be gentle wall flowers afraid of rocking the boat.
But that’s not the case.
There is another side to a narcissist’s preferred targets.
One that feeds their shallow desires to be around impressive and strong individuals.
You may think that someone who is capable of:
- Thinking for themselves
- Speaking their mind
- Going their own way
…would be a bad mix for a narcissist.
But their ego cannot help but be attracted to these sorts of people.
It’s far more of a win if they manage to control someone who has qualities that they can overpower.
That egotistical drive is the reason why they also gravitate toward the next few traits on our list.
Go-getters are a total turn-on to narcissists.
They are often freeloaders who like to coast on the backs of other people rather than doing things for themselves.
Plus, with success often comes status.
If others admire you, then a narcissist can feed off that admiration through association.
Similarly, if you have clear talents abilities, and competencies they will believe it reflects well on them, simply by being around you.
At the forefront of a narcissist’s mind isn’t always looking for the easiest target.
They are too egotistic for that.
They don’t just want someone who can quickly be molded and made to do whatever they want.
They want to be impressed by someone.
So they often look for things that they wish they had or wished they were themselves.
If you are gifted in certain ways, you become a bigger “prize” to a narcissist.
Continuing with the same theme, social recognition is yet another thing that a narcissist may desire in a potential target.
Remember, they want what you have. Being around you makes them feel more popular too.
You may have a knack for hitting it off with people and forming connections.
As Shannon Thomas, the author of the book ‘Healing from Hidden Abuse’ explains:
“I’ve seen that a lot of folks get targeted if they have things like strong family relationships”
The narcissist hones in on something of value and then sets to work to destroy it.
To be forgiving is a true blessing.
It not only helps our relationships, but it gives us greater peace of mind too.
When we hold on to grievances and past pain, it usually holds us back and keeps us stuck.
The trick is to know that you can be forgiving, yet that shouldn’t encroach upon firm boundaries.
Because forgiveness is simply an internal process of letting go.
It doesn’t mean letting people off, turning a blind eye to poor behavior, or allowing someone to stay in your life.
If you are too forgiving, you are more likely to put up with the cycles of abuse a narcissist subjects you to, rather than walking away.
Another quality that can stop someone from turning their back on a narcissist is loyalty.
Yet again, this is an honorable quality that is admirable — when it’s done right.
Loyal people are dependable and stick with you through good times and bad.
But a narcissist can take advantage of that dependability and start to rely on you.
They use things like gaslighting, guilt, and playing the victim to make you feel bad at the thought of “abandoning them” in their “time of need”.
It’s not your fault, it’s theirs!
Guilt and shame are powerful manipulators.
Once a narcissist has their claws in you, they can try to make you feel like everything is your fault.
But as we’ve seen, they can pray upon some wonderful qualities and twist them to their advantage.
That’s why it’s important not to blame yourself, but instead seek help to detach yourself from their controlling ways.