“The problem is that narcissistic men can initially seem so appealing that it can be hard for those involved with them to break away,” writes Candace Love in her new book, No More Narcissists: How to Stop Choosing Self-Absorbed Men and Find the Love You Deserve.
In the book, Love explores the unique allure of the narcissistic man, why women are attracted to him, and most importantly, how they can learn not to be.
At first he seems like Prince Charming. He makes you feel special. He seems to have a magnetic attraction, and yet he chose you, and only you.
But then everything changes. He begins critiquing how you talk, how you wear your hair, who you spend time with, and your intelligence. You begin to worry. Maybe you aren’t good enough. You try harder. But he is still great, and now you are no longer special. He drops you, and you pick up the pieces and start again, hoping for better.
For many women, choosing narcissistic men is a constant cycle of false charm, false love, insecurity, shame, and hurt feelings. Much of the reason for this is that narcissistic men are not capable of authentic love.
“Because of the unfortunate psychology of narcissists, they are actually unable to love another person in a way that is deep, reciprocal, mutually respectful, and satisfying,” writes Love.
And yet, many women want to hold onto the fantasy that a narcissist can love them. Often this is a result of early childhood experiences that result in core feelings of unworthiness.
“Believing I am unworthy of love becomes a core belief about myself and I carry this belief from childhood to adulthood. It then affects all my relationships, especially intimate relationships, and influences my dating choices because I am vulnerable and desperate for affection, never having received it in childhood,” Love writes.
These core beliefs can then create life traps, which come in many forms; abandonment traps, driven by the belief that people always leave you; mistrust and abuse life traps, driven by the belief that people hurt and manipulate you; emotional deprivation life traps, driven by the belief that no one is ever there for you; defectiveness and shame life traps, driven by the belief that you are not good enough to love; and unrelenting standards life traps, driven by the belief that whatever you do, it will never be good enough.
And when women choose a partner who can’t love them, it feeds into their core belief that they are somehow defective and unworthy of love. Narcissistic men are often too preoccupied meeting their own needs to worry about a romantic partner, or anyone else for that matter.
“Narcissists need to feel equal or superior to everyone and everything around them. Exquisitely sensitive due to their deep sense of insecurity and inadequacy, they continually assess where they stand in relation to everyone else,” writes Love.
Healthy self-love, on the other hand, is characterized by a capacity to self-reflect, acknowledge problems, take responsibility, express a full range of empathy, and balance one’s own needs with those of others. In order to begin choosing men who exhibit healthy self-love and are capable of deep and fulfilling mutual love, women have to first believe that new behaviors are necessary. They must also believethat they are capable of changing their old behavior, and that they will be successful in their attempts to change.
The work of changing, Love says, begins with mindfulness and realistic thinking.
“With realistic thinking, you ask yourself targeted questions and use your answers to help you evaluate or dispute a certain thought,” writes Love.
To address specific life traps, Love offers a variety of exercises for each. For example, for those with the abandonment trap, she suggests initiating one conversation a day with a friend or coworker, slowly increasing the length of the conversation as comfort increases.
Because self-care is such an important component of healthy relationship, Love suggests exercises such as mindful eating, committing to be fit, developing good sleep hygiene, finding and visualizing a safe place, creating healthy boundaries, identifying and ranking your values, and being kind to yourself.
And a healthy sense of self often predicts the quality of the relationship that ensues.
“If you do not value yourself and do not love yourself, you will not attract a healthy partner,” writes Love.
One helpful tip Love offers her readers is to shift the focus from finding the “man of your dreams” to finding the “self of your dreams.”
By learning to identify life traps, practicing mindfulness and realistic thinking, and learning healthy self-love, readers can overcome the attraction to narcissistic men and find the love – and the self – that they truly desire. Backed by research and delivered in an engaging and readable style, Love shows her readers that finding love starts with the commitment to accept no more narcissists.
No More Narcissists: How to Stop Choosing Self-Absorbed Men and Find the Love You Deserve
Candace V. Love, Ph.D.
New Harbinger Publications
Softcover, 200 Pages