What Makes Someone Chase a Narcissist?

This post has been prompted by ruleofstupid, who produces one of the best blogs at WordPress, in my humble opinion. If you haven’t dropped by for a visit, you really should. His social commentary, poetry and music are by turns thought-provoking, funny, witty and sad, but never ever boring. I’m really surprised that he hasn’t been Freshly Pressed yet. If you think that’s a message to the powers that be for them to do so, then you’re right. Get going, WordPress!

In any event, RoS commented on my last post that he wanted to read about the other side of this narcissist issue. What makes a perfectly sensible someone chase a narcissist instead of telling them to f**k off? Well, the first simple answer is that the people who are involved in narcissist-chasing don’t realize that that’s what they are doing. The second simple answer is that usually, narcissists are the ones who chase. Then there’s the more complex answer. You just knew that was coming, didn’t you?

There are unfortunately all sorts of negative reasons for why people get involved in inappropriate relationships and I clearly can’t even begin to address all of those levels of dysfunction. However, I do think that I have a reasonable take on what goes on for many of those who get involved with the narcissistic crowd. They are not to be confused with the douche nozzle crowd which if you stop and think about it would make those who chase them the nozzle chasers which is a really unsettling image and I don’t think that I’m going to follow it any further.

I think that there are four broad categories or “types” of people who get involved with narcissists. There is nothing official about these categories – they are just the result of my reading, experience and consideration; they are also not meant to be exhaustive.

English: Would only a narcissist walk this pat...

English: Would only a narcissist walk this path? Green path through the walled garden at Wallington lined by spring narcissi. Late spring means that very few leaves have emerged. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. The Saviour Complex – Narcissists like to present themselves as having been heartlessly screwed by pretty much everyone around them. Enter the Messianic saviour types. These are the ones who think that through their unconditional love, they can save anyone from anything. They have some very Pollyanna – ish ideas going on about how love can save the world, all you need is love, and so on and so on. They are in love with the idea of love and to some extent also have some rather arrogant beliefs about the effects they can have on others. When it comes to the narcissist, these saviour types are completely in over their heads. They have no idea what they are dealing with but their commitment to their ideal is so strong that they will keep on trying even after the abuse starts. They have faith, with a capital “F”, that they can save the poor unloved narcissist. Essentially, they are naive and inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve the narcissistic onslaught that will inevitably come their way. In the aftermath, they will need help re-establishing their values.

2. The Agenda-Driven – These people get involved with narcissists because they are so agenda-driven that they don’t notice the issues their potential “partners” have. These types are worried that they will never find another partner, that their biological clocks are running out, are extremely concerned about being alone or feel that they must have a partner in order to function in society. They can be very single-minded in pursuit of their “goal” and will be completely shocked and surprised when the narcissist discards them. It will likely take a long time for them to stop blaming themselves for their lack of insight and they may also have to forgive themselves for being fallible.

3. The Minimizer/Rationalizers – These people are to some extent related to the Saviour types, but where the Saviour is over confident, the Minimizer lacks confidence. They don’t trust their own judgement and believe everyone around them is more intelligent. You can easily enough see where this can lead. When they are confronted by the narcissist’s lousy behaviour, they will doubt their own perception of it and will choose to accept the narcissist’s opinions about everything as being superior to their own. They will bend their interpretation of events in order to protect or defend the narcissist and they can also be extremely blind to the narcissist’s ability to offend others. Eventually, the narcissist will abandon the Minimizer/Rationalizer – as is usually the case – but the Minimizer may take many years to recognize what was occurring in the “relationship” and may also try repeatedly to get the narcissist back.

4. Boundaries? What Are Those? – This was me. I did a post on this which you can link to here. I also have to say that had some of the other characteristics going on, as well. There was some minimizing and rationalizing, and some saviour stuff  too, but for the most part, I lacked personal, emotional and mental boundaries. I had been raised to be a yes-person and for various reasons over the years, this mode of behaviour had solidified. It has been a real uphill climb for me to establish some boundaries and I also have to work every day at maintaining them. I know that I could easily slip back.

I know that there’s lots of crossover among these categories but I think that for the most part, they capture the prominent characteristics of those who find themselves involved with narcissists.

What do you think? Do you see other types or other characteristics that could lead to narcissistic entanglement? I’m very interested in what you have to say.

53 thoughts on “What Makes Someone Chase a Narcissist?

  1. I don’t know if my ex was a narcissist, but I saw signs after he left. My problem was in becoming complacent- in thinking that knowing him offered some protection and believing that the man I knew would never become unknowable.

    • From what you’ve written, I think that he might be – to hide himself from you like that for so long – that’s a typical narcissistic trait. He so broke your heart; what happened to you was so callous and cruel that in a way, I hope he is a narcissist. It’s good to know that you’ve moved on, but it must have been difficult to give yourself up to another again.

  2. i agree that we probably don’f chase the n, and that it’s likely the other way around. twice for me actually – two very differently presenting types – same bullshit. the first time, my ‘whys’ ran the gamut of my emotional makeup, lack of experience and youth. the second time, i simply had no idea that narcissism could come in more than one shade and was blindsided by charm.

  3. Very interesting as usual!
    FYI- Tried the link in category 4 (Boundaries,) but it led back to this same post. If you discuss being raised as a yes-person, I definitely want to read that!

  4. I am no psychologist but I think you made a very valid point in this –
    I lacked personal, emotional and mental boundaries. I had been raised to be a yes-person. I feel if someone does not have the strength to stand up for what they believe they require in a relationship then they would inevitably be drawn to the wrong person.
    Well thought out post.

    • Thanks, Ramblings. So true, isn’t it? You just roll over and do what you’re told to do or think what you’re told to think. I believe that many women of our generation have (or had) this issue and the sad part is that depending on the culture, there are many more coming up.

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  6. I think, broadly speaking, those characteristics are just how we all handle relationships in general. What is really interesting, though, is how the narcissist can take those characteristics and manipulate them to their own advantage. This is how to manipulate the Messianic type, this is how to manipulate the agenda-driven, etc. I think the ultimate challenge for a narcissist would be to manipulate another narcissist, although I don’t think this happens – it would be two forces colliding into an immediate break-up (it would be far too much work for both of them), unless they became one unit, together, where they exploited others.
    Really interesting post – I love reading about personality types. Those things are often more prescient than we care to admit.

    • Hi Jack, I was hoping that you would come by and make a comment. I appreciate your insight that narcissists just manipulate characteristics that are already there – makes perfect sense. My ex-narcissist did become involved with another narcissist – she was a work colleague, not a “love” interest – but they intensely hated each other. He eventually took her to court for defamation, among other things, and won the case although it bankrupted him. The settlement money went to his lawyer and didn’t begin to cover his fees. My ex-N could see that this was going to happen but still wouldn’t let it go – also quite typically narcissistic.

  7. Hi Lynette. Thank you so much for the incredible panegyric! And for answering my question!
    I think you’ve covered a lot of possibilities here. As Jack says, the problem seems to be not our type of behaviour but the extremity of it.
    I think we are all vulnerable to unhealthy attachments because the world is a difficult and often scary place. Out parents don’t know, our God’s have lost a lot of their power, our governments have lost respect – many of the old sources of guidance are no longer trusted. Yet many of us just want someone else to do the hard work, to decide for us, to lead us and/or parent us.
    Narcissist lock on to this inner desire for a ‘leader’ and exploit it.
    Long may you enjoy being ‘N’-free 🙂

    • You are very welcome, RoS! I believe that you’re quite right about narcissists locking on to an inner desire for a leader.

      Thanks for your good wishes – I am very much enjoying the N-free life! 🙂

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  9. I agree Narcissists INITIALLY chase; however, once they get their mindphuckery routine down and they turn the tables and one is unaware, they begin to groom you with intermittent reinforcement. The victim is not aware of what is happening and going into the relationship in good faith, believes that problems are ‘workable’ and continues to work not fully aware it’s a solo act that’s being performed. The intermittent reinforcement acts just like Pavlov and the dogs, and thus the victim slowly gets caught up in the ‘chase’ by then the victim’s head is scrambled eggs, but again, they don’t recognize it until the devalue and discard is intentionally implemented. It’s a strategic move on the Narcissist’s part…as one person put it..the ‘final curtain call’ or the ‘cherry on top’…By the time a victim realizes what’s has transpired, the Narcissist has their new
    life already set up…

  10. I always read this blog thinking, “have a I dated this type of guy?” But I think so I’ve dated the run-of-the-mill d-bag. I always learn something new and I come away more aware. Thank you for that.

  11. I am not sure i fit into one of these categories. I believe after the fact the relationship ended, I realized his narcissistic behavior and ’til this day, I question as to why I put up with his narcissism.

    • There can be lots of reasons for it, of course, but for many of us I think that as Betty Laluna says, we’re trying to work the problem. We relate to the narcissist in a “normal” way, not realizing that we’re being manipulated.

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  13. Reblogged this on I Won't Take It and commented:
    Lynette over at In the Net! Stories of Life and Narcissistic Survival posted back in March about the types of people who “chase” narcs. She defines four categories (although there can be a lot of cross-over): The Savior Complex (my relationship with Mark), The Agenda Driven (my time with Dale), The Minimizer/Rationalizer (my relationship with M) and the person with no boundaries (me with all three of them) that explain to those who have never had this type of experience just what’s going on when a person gets involved with a Narc and doesn’t seem to see what those on the outside looking in can see. A very informative read!

    • Thanks so much for the re-blog and your kind words! 🙂 Yes, there is a lot of crossover, and I also agree that it’s much easier for those on the outside to see what’s happening – as ever, it’s always most difficult for us to really see ourselves.

  14. I would agree that I am more a #4-type. I love this post for the image, too. I’ve visited Wallington “secret” gardens but not in spring, in the fall. Too beautiful to associate with narcissists. 🙂

    • I hope that you have been able to get a handle on the whole boundary thing – a tough slog, though. I agree, the garden is much too beautiful to be associated with narcissists. Thanks for coming by and for the follow. 🙂

      • Yoga has helped me feel confident enough to get my boundaries established. I’m becoming more patient and more able to control my ugly, hateful side when confronted by ugly and hateful people. It took me too long to realize that ugly and hateful is just as contagious as beauty and love. I’m sticking to the beauty and love side of the room, but remaining well-aware of the ugly and hateful. 🙂

  15. My father is a narcissist. My mother is a co-narcissist, and falls into all of the categories.

    I had boundary issues (and still do a lot of the time) in order to avoid conflict with my father. I started applying it to everyone because the narcissist in my life was so overpowering that I lost most of myself and accepted my role as door mat, taught to think everyone was trying to attack me one way or another. Now I am trying to learn how to place boundaries, and I had to cut all contact to my parents because they started verbally abusing me when they thought I was gaining too much control over myself.

    • Wow! I’m glad to hear that you have found your way out of that situation – it must have been an incredibly difficult decision to cut contact with your parents. I understand that whole doormat persona so well, however.

      Thanks for coming by and for your comments.

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  18. Wow just found this post. I had never had category type traits explained before and I really recognised myself. I had the constant questioning and it can even recur at times three years following the end which was not the real end as I hung on for a further year after he broke it off. but your post just explained why…

    Just a thought. if we had parents who minimised our feelings that would set us up too for the self doubt and ignorance.

    Excellent post

    • Many thanks for coming by and also for your re-blog! 🙂 I agree completely that parents can set a person up to take a fall, not just from a narcissist but from other types whose plan in life is to use others. My mom, who believed in strong discipline, also wouldn’t allow me as I grew up much in the way of independence or opinions that varied from hers – this left me feeling very uncertain about my boundaries, as well. It took me a long time to figure this out about myself.

      I’m glad that you found something helpful here! 🙂

    • I’ve replied to your comment but it doesn’t seem to be recognized. If you can’t see it just come by again – it is visible in the comments section. Sorry – I sometimes find this stuff very mysterious (and confusing)! 🙂

  19. I thought I chased him. But what would happen is he’d leave, often, in the full knowledge that I would coax him back again. Till he got so frightening I lost all my deep-rooted faith in “us” and when he left year ago I went No Contact instead.

    I don’t know which “type” I am. I am autistic, shy, lonely. Scared of people. Bullied and called “ugly” for years. Felt like if a man fancied me when I fancied him, he was Jesus come down to do a miracle for me: and I had better worship him, because otherwise he’d realise how “ugly” I am and go. So I found this man and I clung and clung to the illusion that he loved me like I loved him. I was 50 by then, after decades alone.

    I can see I just stumbled, naive (without realising I was naive) into the world of a very disturbed man, who used me as a very handy resource, till I reminded him too much of his mother or got “too close” or whatever. I don’t see him as a deliberate manipulator: I think his beliefs about me were always sincere, whether I was the love of his life or the biggest cheat in town. He is a very sick man. I can see that. But I still hate him for how he treated me.

    I feel very ill and very damaged. I don’t know how to re-establish my life. This is taking forever to get over. I’m about to run into a spate of anniversaries which I am dreading.

  20. Hi Huytongirl, thanks for coming by. 🙂

    It sounds to me as if you may have some issues with boundaries, too. If you feel that you are ugly, if you think poorly of yourself, people can take advantage of that and then you find yourself giving them too much latitude in order to keep them “happy” and at your side. Usually, such people know that we have doubts about ourselves and can make that knowledge work for them.

    One of the things with narcissists is that they think they’re being sincere – but it’s only in the moment. Two seconds later, they can completely change their minds. The way you say that he “used you as a handy resource” or didn’t like it if you got too close are typical markers of the narcissist. They loathe intimacy and in fact don’t understand it (they think it means sex, but their sexual habits are often very mechanical).They also see people as objects to be used and discarded at their whim.

    You have every right to feel as you do. You have been exploited by a master of that particular game and that can cause all kinds of fallout – everything from nightmares to having doubts about whether you can trust your own judgment. It can sometimes take a long time to recover, but it’s important that you work at it. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a hole because of this person. He’s not worth it.

    I think I have seen you comment on Ursula’s blog (anupturnedsoul@wordpress.com). Keep reading her posts and read through her old posts. She is extremely knowledgeable about narcissism and has a great many helpful insights. Also, have you thought about counselling? If it is a possibility for you, perhaps you could consider it. Above all, don’t despair. You can get your life back. 🙂

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  23. I’ve heard that if you are a narcissists yourself, you wouldn’t know it , I started looking into this subject because I think I been dating one for 11 months ( my only long lasting relationship after my marriage) and I recently discovered he could be what they call a “cerebral narcissist ” . I have always thought that I was the narcissist one obviously I didn’t know my condition had a name or even if I had a condition, I haven’t never been professionally diagnosed but base in my own knowledge of my self And what I been reading I could classify in what they call “somatic narcissist “.

    Since day one I like playing and having fun with him and with every body else that crosses my path in the sence that I do things at them in a kind of secret revenge in case one day they would do something at me and because it’s fun .
    I haven’t never loved because no one it’s worth it and I know that because if they were I have loved someone by now so either love isn’t real or there’s no one good enough for me .
    So there’s your 5th reason for what someone will have a relationship with a narcissist; because it’s fun and challenging.

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