Why Do We Fall in Love With Narcissists?

It's often said that a narcissist is like a vampire capable of devouring everything good that's around them. They fake, manipulate, and humiliate. So why don't we see them coming? Moreover, why are we so attracted to them? Find out here.
Why Do We Fall in Love With Narcissists?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 18 November, 2022

Why do we fall in love with narcissists? After all, they’re extremely perverse. In fact, those who’ve known them well say they’re identity thieves and born abusers who sap our self-esteem. However, they trap us in their nets, not once, not twice, but many times. They make us completely forget the wise advice from Cicero that “to stumble twice against the same stone is a proverbial disgrace”.

It’d be great to have a long-range detector so we could completely avoid these kinds of people. Or, if we all had QR codes on our skin so we could decide if someone could be trusted or not. But human relationships don’t work like that and you just can’t tell if someone you’re attracted to now is going to make you suffer in the future.

Paul-Claude Racamier, a well-known French psychoanalyst, spent his entire life analyzing the figure of what he called the perverse narcissist. According to him, these kinds of narcissists seek to destroy the image of the other person (whether it be a partner, colleague, or friend) to reinforce their own. In effect, they annihilate another’s self-esteem to reinforce their own.

But why’s it so hard for us to see them coming? Moreover, why’s it so easy to fall in love with them?

Annoyed couple representing the question why do we fall in love with narcissists?

Falling in love with narcissists

While narcissistic personality disorder isn’t common, narcissistic personality is. It’s a psychological reality that falls within a spectrum. Some people present a more pathological (and dangerous) profile while others show more subtle behaviors. That said, in the long run, they’re also harmful.

It’s difficult to understand, firstly, why they’re like this and secondly, why there are so many of them around these days. In fact, they can be found in any social setting. Some suggest that they’re a by-product of modern society. They claim it’s made them selfish and focused on self-gratification. Moreover, they always want to be the center of attention. One of the most consensual explanations puts the focus on upbringing and education.

A study conducted by Princeton University (USA) claims that parents who educate without boundaries establish the pillars of harmful self-esteem, the kind that feeds on the admiration of others. Being educated in this way, without empathy and being ignorant or indifferent to the needs of others, sows the seeds of perverse narcissism, as the child only worships themselves. Now, we understand the theory, perhaps we can understand the reason for the rise of this personality type. However, this doesn’t answer the question of why we fall in love with narcissists. Let’s find out.

We’re unwittingly predisposed

There are certain personality profiles that will always find narcissists more attractive.  For example, people pleasers are near-perfect matches for them. That said, these relationships are always beset by suffering. That’s because the people-pleaser feels good about making their partner happy, and useful by giving their partner what they need. But a narcissist wants everything to keep for themselves. In the end, their people-pleasing partner is left exhausted, humiliated, and lacking resources.

Extremely empathetic people may also be attracted to this harmful profile. They’re skilled at understanding the emotions of others and narcissists often hide their frustration and suffering. Yes, surprisingly, these people are often unhappy, depressed, and destructive. The empath perceives their inner world and longs to be their savior, but sadly, they’re the one who ends up being hurt.

They’re skilled at being desirable and know how to captivate

Narcissists possess certain subtle psychological abilities. They know what to say at all times, and they know what button to press to attract others and get their attention. They appear to be kind, sure of themselves, decisive, and even brilliant. Indeed, they rarely go unnoticed and demonstrate virtues that they don’t really possess.

Therefore, we tend to think that they’re kind, when their kindness is purely instrumental. They make us think that we’re the center of their world when, in reality, they just want us to be the satellites that revolve around them.

We’re predisposed to fall in love with them (repeatedly)

Have you ever ended a relationship with a narcissist and, after a while, without really knowing how or why you ended up with another one? It often happens. In fact, it’s really quite common to experience a chain of harmful relationships with people with clearly narcissistic traits.

One of the theories that explain this is our predisposition to be attracted by narcissists. Some people are attracted to certain personality traits (security, charm, leadership, etc.). Often, when they find yet another person with this profile, they think “This time I know it’ll all go well. It’s definitely worth a try”.

man representing why we fall in love with narcissists

They know how to mirror us

In the early stages of a relationship, a narcissist knows how to act as their partner’s mirror. They practice the skillful art of mimicry: if their partner suffers, they suffer. If their partner is passionate about something, so are they. And if they’re worried about something, the narcissist will worry even more.

During this first phase of courtship, the narcissist is a perfect chameleon, prepared to make their partner believe that they’re their soulmate. Nevertheless, gradually, the mirror dims and their true character is revealed. It’s then that they begin to denigrate everything their partner says, feels, and values.

However, you shouldn’t blame yourself if you’ve fallen prey to a narcissist. It’s something that happens to many of us every day and it’ll continue to happen. The last thing you need is to feed your guilt and further damage your self-concept. It’s simply not worth it. The most important thing, if you’ve had an experience of this type, is to strengthen your self-esteem.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bouchoux, Jean Charles (2017) Los perversos narcisistas. Arpa
  • Eddie BrummelmanSander ThomaesStefanie A. NelemansBram Orobio de CastroGeertjan Overbeek, and Brad J. Bushman. Origins of narcissism in children.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.