People are easily charmed by a narcissist, especially codependents. Narcissists can be beguiling and charismatic. In fact, one study showed that their likable veneer was only penetrable after seven meetings. I’ve had a number of clients who claimed that the courtship with their narcissistic spouse was wonderful, and that abuse only began following the wedding. However, with greater insight, these clients admitted that there were signs that they’d overlooked.
Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist. She is a relationship expert and author of “Codependency for Dummies” and “Conquering Codependency and Shame: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You,” as well as five ebooks. She has worked extensively in the field of addiction and codependency. Her work is informed by training in Self-Psychology, Voice-Dialogue, Dream Analysis, Jungian Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Somatic Work, EFT, and Hypnosis. She has also previously supervised other therapists as an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and practiced law as an entertainment attorney.
Blind Spots when Dating a Narcissist
There are unconscious explanations why you might attracted to a narcissist. Here are some reasons why you might not recognize a narcissist:
1. Sexual attraction. The greater the physical attraction and sexual intensity, the easier it is to ignore red flags―why lust is blind.
2. Seduction. Narcissists are skilled manipulators. Some can be quite seductive, and not just sexually. They may be adept listeners and communicators or allure you with, flattery, self-disclosure, and vulnerability―just the opposite of what you might expect from a narcissist.
3. Idealization. Often narcissists are very accomplished, good-looking, powerful, and/or multi-talented. They’re easy to idealize especially if you feel inferior. Codependents are more likely to idealize someone they admire, especially narcissistic traits that they themselves lack, such as power and boldness.
4. Familiarity. If you had a narcissistic parent, being with a narcissist will feel familiar―like family. This unconsciousness attraction is often referred to as “chemistry.” With therapy, you’ll easily spot someone who is abusive or self-centered. You might even be repelled instead of attracted to a narcissist.
5. Codependency. If you have low self-esteem or are codependent, you may be unaware of your feelings, which can guide you. You may not feel entitled to respect and having your needs and wants met. Most codependents tend to accommodate and people-please other people―a perfect fit for a narcissist. This predisposition is stronger in early dating when you’re trying to make a good impression. Thus, you might overlook or rationalize feelings of discomfort and anxiety that signal trouble. If something does bother you, you won’t speak up about it and try to forget it.