How do narcissists “pick” their supply? Do they have emotional antennae that allow them to hone in on their prey?

There are certain people (I call them narcissist magnets) that are very attractive to narcissists.

Narcissists are attracted to distinct characteristics in a target.

Attractive: These people are physically attractive, successful, educated, wealthy, powerful, and/or connected.

They elevate a narcissist’s status, making the narcissist look better than they do on their own.

The narcissist tends to desire characteristics they don’t have in a partner. For an unattractive overt narcissist, this may mean marrying a trophy wife/husband. For a covert narcissist with an entry level job, it may mean marrying a doctor, CEO, or lawyer.

Compassion/Kindness: The narcissist seeks people with a big, beautiful heart.

They desire people who want to be sure everyone feels included and heard. Someone who sees the good in and wants the best for others. Someone who sympathizes with people who suffer challenges.

This person sees the world, and those in it, through rose-colored glasses.

Empathy: The narcissist seeks empathic people, those who feel what others are feeling as if it’s happening to them.

During the love bombing phase, the empathic target feels the hurt and emptiness beneath the mask, even though they don’t see it. They want to fill that emptiness with love.

Once devaluing begins, the empathic target feels the shame, fear, and worthlessness the narcissist projects at them. This is why it’s so easy for them to accept the projected thoughts, feelings, and actions as their own.

These characteristics are all gifts. They are outstanding attributes, in and of themselves.

Yes, these three characteristics are attractive to the narcissist. However, the rest depends on the target.

According to National Geographic Encyclopedia, “Magnetism is the force exerted by magnets when they attract or repel each other… To become magnetized, another strongly magnetic substance must enter the magnetic field of an existing magnet.”

In this case, our magnets are the narcissist and the target. They may attract or repel each other.

The narcissist-target duo only becomes magnetized (attracting each other) when you add one or more of the following.

Narcissistic parent or previous relationship: Those who have been groomed by a previous narcissist are magnetic to another.

The heavy lifting has already been done. You’ve already internalized the shame and worthless projected on you by the previous narcissist. It’s so much easier to sell it now.

You’ve been groomed in how to respond to devaluingpassive-aggressive putdowns, the silent treatment, the angry outbursts, the lack of self-responsibility. That behavior feels normal, familiar. Familiar attracts you to the narcissist. You have been magnetized.

Codependency: Codependency arises from your own history of trauma. That trauma has resulted in losing connection to yourself and instead attaching your sense of self to another person, a substance, even an object.

It’s also resulted in a great deal of internalized shame, which leads to seeking love and approval. Enter the narcissist’s love bomb – your magnet is not only magnetized, but also super-charged.

You’ve also learned to deny your feelings and needs. You attempt to control your feelings, avoiding feelings of anger or sadness. You avoid situations that are likely to evoke those emotions. You may control the behavior of others by people-pleasing.

You were taught to have dysfunctional boundaries because yours weren’t respected. Now you’re likely to accept blame that does not belong to you. Your self-criticism and self-blame make you the perfect partner.

What could be more attractive to a narcissist?

Fortunately you, the potential target, are in the driver’s seat.

You have no control over being attractive, compassionate, and empathic. Those are good things you wouldn’t want to change even if you could. They make you attractive to a narcissist, but a narcissist won’t be very attractive to you – especially if you’re aware of the tactics they use and recognize them for who they are.

You DIDN’T have control over being groomed by a narcissist previously or trauma that resulted in codependency. At that time, you didn’t see what was going on and didn’t have the skills or resources to choose otherwise. That is not your fault.

Now that you see it, however, you have the ability to change it, to heal your trauma, your shame, to connect to yourself again, to no longer be codependent. You can choose healthy relationships and create new patterns that become familiar. You can rewire your nervous system. And once you do, you will not find anything about a narcissist attractive. You will no longer be magnetized.

That’s powerful.