Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
I received this compelling and disturbing question from a community member at the Yourlifelifter Facebook page.
“Ok, so I have seen this mentioned here many times…the point about ‘the abuser finds us, we don’t find them.’ I figured now is a good time to ask what this means, exactly? In my case, I feel like it was on me…I noticed him in a crowd, and my subtle yet repeated glances were totally intentional…I wanted to talk to him but didn’t want to approach him. So this finally got his attention and eventually he approached me. I feel like we may never have met if not for me doing that. (of course I didn’t know at first sight what and who he was, but regardless I sort of initiated our connection).
This, among other things, has always made it even harder for me to stop questioning myself and my past. He never quite fit the standard ‘profile’ of an abuser. Police, friends or family, even society in general all have this idea of what an abuser does and whenever he failed to fit that mold I felt more doubtful. For example: One idea is abusers will abuse any partner they have. Mine claimed he never abused anyone but me. And I actually believe that, given his lack of long term relationship history. So he insisted there was something wrong with me since he never did it before, and it made me question myself all the more. Why am I the first/only one he ever abused?
Did he find me or is it true that I found him?”
Here is my answer:
I assure you that you were attractive to him not solely for your physicality so much as for what you could provide him long-term and what he believed he could manipulate from you. You merely made a good target. He will do this to anyone who he feels can supply him what he cannot and does not want to supply himself or work for and feels he is entitled to take from whomever suits him.
So you were physically attracted to him? I hope so. Most of us are to our mates. You flirted. Being physically attracted to another person has nothing to do with the power they manipulate from you or your attraction to power imbalanced relationships. What do these have to do with being targeted by an abuser and being abused?
This is a more accurate description of an initial interaction with a narcissist. They evaluate you at first as “good” prey and if they determine you are, they groom you with their practiced charm to entice and manipulate you (e.g. camouflage their true malintent) and then go in for the kill. We see similar behaviors in all predators. He wanted all you could provide him without any of the work. That could be a trophy girlfriend, a target of his sadistic ways, or helping him provide an illusion of “normalcy” to the world he wanted to maintain. It is the preplanned, predictable, routine, insidious and boring Modus Operandi (MO) of all narcissists.
A relationship with a narcissist is a predator prey relationship, a parasite host relationship. Can narcissists have redeeming qualities? Of course they can. But conning you into believing you are responsible for their abuse is obviously not one of them. It is, however, another classic example of the despicable denigration, diminishment and invalidation all narcissists covertly or overtly inflict on their victims.
So you made yourself available by flirting? He had already been scoping you and your body language out. Your eye contact with him merely provided an opportunity to become his prey that he acted upon. It was part of his plan all along. They prefer codependent empaths who are most vulnerable to their attacks. You are not immune. No one is. After you, he will move quickly to his next narcissistic supply.
An emotionally healthy loving partner with compassion would never do this to another human being or convince him or her they are responsible for the abuse they inflict on them. Nothing toxic comes from genuine love. They are disturbed broken character disordered individuals, covert aggressive manipulators. Now he has transferred his toxic shame to you, another classic example of projection that all narcissists engage in, and has you second guessing and doubting yourself. Do you expect someone with the worst of the personality disorders and who suffers from toxic shame to admit their faults and evil nature and tell the truth? Most victims of narcissistic abuse are merely pain addicted, vulnerable to a narcissist’s attacks and merely looking for love. That is what all humans do. So now he wants you to feel shame for being human, for being you?
Profile of an abuser? What is that? Any human has the propensity to abuse, exploit, betray but not all do however all narcissists do because they have to in order to survive and they lack integrity of character and compassion. Their abuse can be covert (intimidation, gas lighting, silent treatment, withholding sex) or overt (physical, threats, physical isolation, insults). These are maladaptive coping mechanisms they start to learn in their youth typically from other narcissists and they hone through their lives.
You can learn tons more in my book Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors that can help you release the shame that he has inflicted on you from his betrayal and replace false legacy beliefs and pain that prevent you from healing with truth. It includes a self-esteem work workbook that will help you immensely as well. Self-forgiveness for the innocent part we played in our own abuse is also critical to healing.
Healing is all about you, not him, and that is where your focus should be including learning their tactics so you are not vulnerable to their manipulation in the future. He will just move on to his next victim, anyway, if he has not already.