Updated: Mar 28, 2019
I love counseling women! They are often bold, brave, and transparent with their feelings, and vulnerable even in painful circumstances. For centuries, women have been celebrated for their inner and outer beauty, no matter the shape or size. Not only are their bodies powerhouses for the ability to grow, birth, and feed tiny humans, but they often have a nurturing spirit that longs to care for children, as well as, all those around them. This feminine trait is no doubt a wonderful quality that makes this world a better place!
Although being a nurturing and caring person is an amazing characteristic, whether male or female; there can also be a darker side, which needs to be guarded and protected. Sometimes, this caring nature can be misinterpreted as having a “need to be needed” or “co-dependent”. When counseling women, there are a few questions that I get asked on a regular basis: “Why do I keep attracting abusive men?” “What is wrong with me?” “How can I stop myself from getting in this same type of relationship again?”
First all of all, NOTHING is wrong with you! You are a beautiful, worthy woman who should be honored and cherished. No one deserves to be verbally, emotionally, or physically assaulted…EVER! If you are a victim of abuse, these “tips” are not to justify anyone towards mistreatment. They are simply listed in order to help steer women towards repelling narcissistic personalities rather than attracting them.
So, what are the traits of a narcissist? According to Psychology Today, here are the criteria contained in the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual) in a more familiar language:
1. exaggerates own importance 2. is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance 3. believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions 4. requires constant attention and admiration from others 5. takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals 6. disregards the feelings of others or lacks empathy 7. is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her 8. shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes
Does this list sound familiar? Maybe you are already in a relationship with a narcissist or have recently gotten out of one.
Here are some basic tips on how to become a “Narcissist Repellent”
1) Be a woman with boundaries and use your voice
If you are dating, the last thing you want to be is a woman who “will do anything” to be in a relationship. Narcissistic personalities look for individuals who appear desperate and is afraid to voice their opinion. From the beginning, don’t be afraid to set the expectations that you will not be giving him all your time, money, sexual intimacy, resources, etc. If a narcissist believes they need to work too hard to use you, they will quickly not invest! My beautiful friend, this is a great thing!
2) Do not post every challenge you have on social media
Narcissists are predators and are looking for the vulnerable or recently wounded to prey upon! Listen, I do not have the unrealistic expectation that pain, and difficult seasons can always be avoided. As a matter a fact, they will come and often in multiples. However, women need to protect themselves from “appearing weak”. Social media is the worst place to post your lonely moments as a single mom, trouble with finances, divorce challenges, and insecurities. We all have them, but make sure you take those moments to a trusted friend, family member, or God instead of your Facebook, Snap Chat, or Instagram.
3. Be cautious of “selfie exposure”
A very wise male client once shared some advice about women and online dating during our session. He said; “Guys who want to take advantage of women will look for selfies that expose a lot of skin and post constant single pics (married or unmarried)”. This client took me on a journey into a specific type of male psyche, the kind that desires to fulfill his need for one-night stands. Although, it is perfectly appropriate to post your status as “single”, make sure your pictures reflect that you value yourself outside of your body. You want to be viewed as a well-rounded woman. Post pictures of spending time with your family, girlfriends, travel, church, and work. (Again, posting selfies or even nude pictures NEVER justifies abusive behavior. This rule is simply to help repel rather than attract predatory individuals)
4. Have a good support system
Make sure you have people around you who are positive, loving, and supportive. Narcissists love to target women who appear isolated. It is much easier to abuse if they do not have family, friends, church, or work relationships. Generally, one of the first things a narcissist does is to convince the woman that he is the only thing she needs and everyone else is bad for their relationship.
5. Be self-sufficient
One of the most difficult things when you are beginning a new life on your own (either in your early adulthood or out of divorce) is to learn how to take care of yourself and your children. Never depend on a man to take care of your financial needs. If a narcissist observes that you manage your home and finances well on your own, he won’t find a loop hole to convince you that you “need” him.
6. Love Yourself
This is the most important one! You need to know how valuable you are in order to attract someone who will also value you. I have met many women who had no idea how wonderful, beautiful, and worthy they were. One reason they kept going into one abusive relationship after another is because they did not believe they deserved better. This is truly heart breaking, but it does not have to end in tragedy.
If you are currently in a narcissistic relationship, or are recovering from one, there are many skilled and compassionate professionals at Mindsight who would be happy to help you heal and rediscover the best form of yourself. A counselor can help you recover from low self-worth, setting appropriate boundaries, and trauma recovery. Mindsight also has an amazing team of case workers and peer support specialists who can help you develop a stronger support system and get you back on your feet towards becoming more self-sufficient at work and at home.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of thinking who we are supposed to be and embracing who we truly are.” - Brene Brown