Wondering why you fall for narcissists, or if you’re the type who might attract or be attracted to them? If you’re part of the club, it’s no surprise that you may not want to be a member, but it doesn’t reflect badly on you. Some of the strongest, smartest, most compassionate people end up snagged in the narcissist’s web, only to find a way out. And if you’re lucky enough to have avoided it, this might help you keep it that way.

Here are four common personality types who are more likely than most to fall for narcissists.

1.  You Were Raised by Narcissists

If you were raised by one or more narcissist parents/stepparents, that makes you more susceptible to falling into further relationships with narcissists. Whether as lovers, friends, or bosses, they seem to reappear in your life, with you playing the familiar role, which can range from enabler, to supplier, to golden child, to scapegoat, to everything in between.

It is normal, even logical, to replay familiar life roles. It is the brain’s and body’s way of trying to learn and heal. The good news is that you can break your pattern with narcissists. Think of your reenacting relationships as your way of learning to overcome and move on.

2.  You’re an Empath

As a person highly aware of others’ experiences and emotions, you are exceptionally attuned and in some cases more vulnerable to exploitation by people who lack empathy—a state of being that for most of us, and especially you, is difficult to comprehend.

The person with narcissist personality disorder is believed to suffer from overindulgent or overpraising and/or neglectful or abusive parenting, a formatively invalidating environment from which she overcompensates with an arrogant false face and a competitive will to assert her superiority over everyone in her world.

Some theorize that people who develop narcissistic personalities are by nature unusually sensitive and that their intolerable experience of invalidation—loss, abuse, or overindulgence—turns their perceptive gifts into destructive means of manipulating and hurting others.

3.  You Struggle with Low Self-Esteem

People with low self-esteem, often as a result of abusive or devaluing childhood experiences, including physical and sexual violation, are vulnerable to narcissists. You have been taught that you don’t deserve decency, affection, boundaries, stability, or unconditional love. You may have never seen a real-life example of kindness, let alone love, and yet you deserve both things as much as anyone does.

Narcissists pray on vulnerable people, who will bend to their will but preferably also elevate them in some way—by being good-looking, rich or at least good earners, intelligent, professionally accomplished, charming, and so on.

4.  You Are a Rescuer

You want to help, cure, restore, repair, protect, defend, and fight before it’s too late. You want to save people, animals, groups, and causes from harm and injustice. You want to kick ass to make things better.

And the narcissist may be your biggest challenge yet. But the secret is out: You can’t cure the narcissist, and you usually can’t ever teach them even the basics of empathy. Maybe you can make her/him a little bit better. The real question is, Is it worth it? 

We all of us make mistakes in love and life. And if we’re wise, strong, and brave enough we find a way to heal and move on.

Julie L. Hall’s articles on narcissism regularly appear in The Huffington Post and PsychCentral. She is the author of a forthcoming memoir about life, and a few near deaths, in a narcissistic family (read excerpts). 

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Image courtesy of James Loesch.