Toxic Relationship: (Un)perfect Match: Why some people are so prone to narcissism

Narcissism is a personality style that is now very widespread in our meritocracy.

Toxic Relationship: (Un)perfect Match: Why some people are so prone to narcissism

Narcissism is a personality style that is now very widespread in our meritocracy. Some people have only low to moderate levels of narcissism, while a select few meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But even to a small extent, the personality structure, which is characterized by a pronounced self-centeredness and lack of empathy, can have a negative impact on relationships.

The problem is often: narcissists only reveal themselves as such quite late. It doesn't matter whether it's dating, with friends or in the work environment - they are usually the ones who radiate the most charisma at first glance. Accordingly, narcissists are popular, at least for the time being. Because as soon as the toxic properties of those affected become apparent, many people turn away from them. But not everyone works equally well.

There are characters who are particularly prone to falling for narcissists over and over again, even though they actually know better. There are various theories in psychology about exactly what these are. Similar to the narcissistic personality structure itself, there is not yet sufficient research on this. But there are indications of which type often gets involved with narcissists.

These people include the so-called echoists. They tend to adapt to the behavior and feelings of others and withdraw themselves for the needs of others. Characteristics that, at first glance, go well with the narcissist’s need for recognition and their craving for power. However, Echoists are naturally sensitive and very compassionate people who quickly lose themselves when their considerate nature is taken advantage of.

Empathy is a good keyword anyway when it comes to narcissists. While they often lack genuine compassion themselves, they often miraculously attract the very people who are particularly empathetic. They then often have the need to be able to change the narcissistic partner or colleague through a lot of care and to get through to their "true self". But the fact of the matter is, the narcissistic personality is real and most narcissists don't want to change. They usually think they're pretty great.

But empaths and echoists aren't the only ones prone to narcissism. Even people who have a different self-esteem issue and feel that they are “not good enough” or inferior sometimes stay with a narcissist longer than is good for them.

This is not about a rescue idea, but rather about the fact that the narcissist subconsciously confirms those affected with his subtle humiliations and small-mindedness in his own self-image. Anyone who thinks they don't deserve love will gratefully accept the supposed love of a narcissist - no matter how toxic it may be.

But it also happens that people who maintain a close relationship with a narcissist themselves carry narcissistic traits and become co-narcissists. In this case, both parties bask in each other's glow and try to outdo each other through power games. Until one gets bored with the other or he no longer benefits from the connection. A lasting relationship is hardly possible.

Speaking of power games: There is also the assumption that narcissists consciously look for partners who radiate a certain strength in order to then destroy them. Author Shannon Thomas, who wrote the book "Healing from Hidden Abuse," tells Business Insider what appeals to many narcissists: "They get targeted if they're in good shape, exercise a lot, and take care of their appearance ."

Basically, anyone can fall within the radius of a narcissist. And theoretically, anyone, regardless of empathy or self-esteem, can fall for a narcissistic person. Because at first, these people can be above-average sympathetic, attentive and charming. They often have a very good knowledge of human nature and therefore know exactly which needs they have to satisfy in their counterpart in order to achieve their goal: recognition and admiration.

The key question in any connection with a narcissist is whether to play the game or set boundaries and protect yourself when the behavior becomes toxic. Because the perfect masquerade usually doesn't last long. Eventually, humiliation and manipulation begin. And that's when people with sound instincts and mental stability drift away from narcissistic individuals.

But many people have trouble with that. It helps to listen to your gut feeling. As a rule, narcissists often contradict themselves and promise you the moon, while often doing exactly the opposite. And they are never to blame for anything. Anyone who notices such behavior should seriously consider keeping their distance. The same applies when everything is too good to be true.

Distance from a narcissistic person is not easy. If he notices that the admiration is falling, then there are sometimes manipulative attempts to get the attention back. But even if improvements are then promised, these are often just empty words.

Narcissism is part of being human - and personality style doesn't go away overnight. Therapy can help those affected, but even that is no guarantee that a toxic compound can become a healthy one. So if you've fallen for a narcissist, you can often only protect yourself by keeping your distance - and by tackling your own issues so that it doesn't happen again so quickly.

Source: Business Insider, Guide to Narcissism