There are four types of people most narcissists and psychopaths tend to stay away from. Learn these four types to better protect yourself if you sense you are in the presence of a potentially toxic person. You can adapt these tips and tools to your specific circumstances, keeping your own safety in mind.
(1) Other narcissists like themselves.
Don’t worry – we’re not actually suggesting you become a narcissist or even embody the traits of one. But if you do put on more of a front that showcases that you will not be sympathetic to a narcissist’s pity ploys and do not have as much empathy for bullies or a great deal of emotion from the very beginning, narcissists will not see you as a good source of narcissistic supply (supply consists of sources of validation for the narcissist like ego strokes, praise, resources, attention, and sex). Narcissists and psychopaths look for traits like empathy, compassion, sentimentality, understanding, forgiveness, and resilience in the face of mistreatment in their partners. You have to “dial down” some of these traits if you want to avoid being caught on their radar. Unless a narcissist or psychopath has a shared agenda they need another toxic personality to join them on (like masterminding a bank heist or collectively sabotaging and mobbing a talented co-worker), they do not usually want to spend too much time with other narcissists and psychopaths like themselves. That’s because being in the company of unempathetic and callous people gives the narcissist little stimulation or emotion to feed on. The narcissist’s fellow narcissistic “friends” are more like cronies or groupies who do their bidding. But they are not people they really enjoy the company of (if you want a visual of this dynamic, think of Draco Malfoy and his henchmen, Crabbe and Goyle). They prefer the attention of their empathic victims.
(2) People they cannot control, who use their dark side strategically to set boundaries, and who are unpredictable.
Narcissists and psychopaths operate from a set of core beliefs about potential victims and about human nature in general. They believe that empathic human beings will react and act in predictable ways to their manipulation and that their own morality and empathy will prevent them from ever being anything but loyal to the narcissist. Once love-bombed, the victim is expected to invest in the relationship and follow through on their perceived obligations to the narcissist. If devalued, the victim will chase after the narcissist. If a victim’s jealousy is provoked, the victim will “compete” for the narcissist and will not betray the narcissist in turn. If gaslit, the victim will experience cognitive dissonance and rely on the narcissist. If stonewalled, the victim will try to regain the narcissist’s favor. If the narcissist cries crocodile tears, the victim will embrace the narcissist with forgiveness. However, narcissists cannot deal with unpredictable victims who do not follow these patterns and actively protect and defend themselves. These are types of victims they cannot exploit long-term because these victims do not remain loyal, do not forgive, do not readily disclose their vulnerabilities to the narcissist and their reactions to the narcissist’s schemes do not work as expected.
These are the types of unpredictable victims who put their own ego above the narcissist’s needs or any fake imposed “morality” and strategically use their own dark side to detach from the narcissist and get ahead. These are the types of unpredictable victims that withdraw their attention completely when the narcissist tries one of their manipulation tactics, and slow down love bombing, halting the narcissist’s cycle of abuse before it even begins. They are the first people to shun concepts of loyalty as soon as the narcissist betrays them. They are the types who document the narcissist’s behavior to bring legal consequences or who consult with the other victims of the narcissist to compare notes. They are the ones who collect information on the narcissist and discover who they really are to protect themselves before they get invested in the relationship or before the narcissist ever gathers information on them. They throw a wrench in the works of the narcissist’s schemes by adding an element of unpredictability the narcissist did not expect.
For example, if a narcissist goes out of their way to try to provoke jealousy in you, the “unpredictable” type of victim may appear bored and soon pursues another dating partner, only for the narcissist to witness this in baffled amazement. Or, if the narcissist tries the silent treatment, the unpredictable victim may go on vacation and enjoy the narcissist’s silence, engaging in some decadent self-care. Unpredictable victims are not the types who feel locked down by any moral obligation to the narcissist once the narcissist violates them – in their mind, the narcissist is a predatory type and they will do whatever it takes to survive, just like all animals do. They are masters of playing the dumb fox to fool the narcissist long enough so they can escape before the narcissist notices. They are also usually the victims who discard the narcissist first. The narcissist then recognizes that this is not a victim they can successfully manipulate without facing consequences and without enduring an injury to their ego – although they are likely to obsess over such unpredictable victims simply because those victims refused to play the narcissist’s games.
(3) People who are more successful, talented, attractive, or more well-loved than they are (unless it benefits them directly).
Unless a narcissist is using you for financial resources, status by association, or as “arm candy,” they have a deep pathological and malicious envy of those who surpass them in the areas of success, talent, and attractiveness. They dislike when victims have a great deal of outside validation apart from them because it makes that victim less susceptible to their manipulation. They are quite jealous of the positive attention their victims receive from others. That is why they so strongly try to devalue these victims early on. It’s an automatic reflex for them to try to put down anyone that triggers their sense of entitlement and inferiority or challenges their grandiose view of themselves simply by existing in their strengths. They want a victim who they can control, not someone they have to fight for and over. Even worse? They despise victims who are confident in themselves and are not willing to put up with their bullshit. If you come off as a bit more egocentric to the narcissist and put yourself on the pedestal with a strong, unshakeable self-concept, they’ll likely leave you alone to hunt for people who are more willing to adore them. Better yet, level up in all areas of your life so that you have multiple sources of support outside of them. Even if they continue to target you because they like a challenge, they’ll eventually become worn out.
(4) People who call them out, hold them accountable, honor their own anger, and are not easily gaslighted.
People who have the willingness and ability to hold narcissists and psychopaths accountable and call them out consistently never last long in relationships with them. This is a good thing! The narcissist seeks to devalue and discard victims who continually enforce healthy boundaries and honor their own sense of anger and outrage in response to the violations they endured. Narcissists and psychopaths also fear those who may expose them and give them a taste of their own medicine or could possibly present them with consequences for their behavior. Instead, they look for victims who are invested in forgiveness and will turn the other cheek to tolerate abuse – they fear victims who may try to get “revenge” or get back at the narcissist in intelligent, constructive ways. If you drop hints that you’re not willing to let bygones be bygones and casually mention stories that suggest that you regularly hold people responsible for their actions, or even mirror the narcissist’s behavior in any way, a narcissist may be less likely to continue interacting with you. Remember: narcissists want to be with the person who sings kumbaya, shows them coddling compassion, and speaks healing prayers for them over a candlelit service – not the person who happily sent their ex to jail.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or a psychopath, you’re not alone and help is out there. You deserve support. You may want to process your traumas with a validating mental health professional on your journey to healing and freedom.