How to stop being a target for narcissists

Many of us wonder ‘why me?’ and ‘how can I make sure this never happens to me again?’  Well, recently I watched a video that a did a great job of clearly identifying the 7 most common characteristics of people who are targeted by narcissists. The characteristics align well with other things I’d read, so I decided to use this video’s list as my starting point for trying to figure out some answers.

Because I’m a girl who loves organizing information into tables and spreadsheets, of course the first thing I did is create a table and shape it into an action plan! I listed all of the characteristics that were identified in the video; then how I demonstrated those in my words, actions, and beliefs; and finally, based on all of that information, what I thought I need to work on going forward.

My table looks like this:

Narcissists target…. Things I do/ did Things I say/ said Things I believe Need to work on
Poor boundaries
Hungry for love
Kind, compassionate, loving
Self-sacrificing
Naive in trusting
Lonely
Idealist

It’s been an interesting exercise, and very revealing! I highly recommend it for anyone in the beginning stages of healing, or for anyone noticing they’re caught in a pattern of attracting one narcissist/sociopath after another.

As an example of the kinds of things I noted, here’s my ‘poor boundaries’ section:

Narcissists target…. Things I do/did Things I say Things I believe Need to work on
Poor boundaries Didn’t express boundaries clearly and consistently

Justified making exceptions to boundaries (first step to the boundary eroding completely)

Allowed things to progress physically faster than I wanted

Allowed him to come to my house soon after meeting

“I don’t know if I’m ok with this”

“I guess it’s ok”

“I never thought I’d do something like this”

“That’s ok” (even if it’s not)

People make mistakes and deserve second chances

You have to be flexible and compromise

Identifying boundaries around amount of contact, respectful behaviour, trusting my gut, sex, etc

Daily checking to make sure I’m adhering to the boundaries

Practise communicating boundaries, saying no

Checking in to see if I’m compromising or compromising myself

Make a steadfast rule about how long I have to know someone before they can come to the house (or me to theirs)

In the ‘things I say and do’ columns, I tried to focus mainly on that time at the beginning of a relationship when you’re just meeting or on the first few dates. That’s when the narcissist is sizing you up and starting to dig in his/her claws, so that’s the time to be especially vigilant.

I tried to be specific in my ‘need to work on’ column, so it almost becomes a list of reminders and/or a to-do list. I’m not just going to work on better boundaries, I’m going to especially focus on reinforcing those boundaries where I know I tend to slip. I’m not just going to try to be more realistic than idealistic, I’m going to try to accept that not everybody deserves a second chance.

I’m always looking for resources and tools that others have used in their healing, so if it’s at all helpful to you to see what my completed table looks like, you can download it here. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it as I think of or notice more things that I do/say/believe, but for now I’m really excited to have some concrete things to work on. I WILL NOT be a victim again!

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