Does Childhood Upbringing Make Us Attract Narcissists?

Does Childhood Upbringing Make Us Attract Narcissists? does childhood upbringing make us attract narcissists?
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Our childhood does indeed play a significant role in how we currently live our lives. There is a strong connection between our challenging childhood upbringing and the attraction to narcissistic partners.

A child’s development and growth are dependent on their caregivers, whom they view as role models for interacting with the world around them. This is why many of our adult behaviors are reflections of our childhood experiences, as childhood is when we primarily learn and shape our worldview.

When we are raised in an environment where our needs for safety and comfort are not met, we tend to switch to survival mode in order to feel secure. Some childhood experiences that can lead to trauma and greatly shape our behaviors include neglect, abuse, substance abuse problems, consistently being disallowed from expressing opinions, emotional invalidation, constant criticism, name-calling, or any experiences that made us feel worthless.

The survival mechanisms developed in childhood may make someone more susceptible to unconsciously or consciously seeking out narcissistic partners in their adult relationships.

The factors that can make someone susceptible to attracting narcissists include:

1. Familiarity

If you were raised in a toxic environment where you experienced abuse, constant invalidation, and a sense of worthlessness, you might not recognize any healthier way of being. You might consider chaotic relationships as normal because they remind you of your past.

This aligns with what a narcissist provides — a chaotic environment that feels familiar. Children raised in narcissistic family environments learn to survive within such dynamics. Unless they experience a different perspective on healthy relationships, they are likely to gravitate towards the same kind of harmful relationships they grew up in. It’s like being accustomed to abuse, which can lead to misunderstanding what constitutes abuse and what doesn’t.

2. Codependency

Codependency involves prioritizing others over oneself and gauging one’s mood based on others’ behavior. If you’ve been conditioned since childhood to place others’ opinions of you above your own, you become an ideal match for a narcissistic individual. Narcissists require caretaking, and codependents find their sense of self-worth in caring for others.

This often means going to great lengths to please them, fix them, or fulfill their needs without considering one’s own boundaries. Codependent individuals struggle to establish and maintain boundaries, as this would imply being somewhat selfish with their own needs. This dynamic makes them stay in narcissistic relationships longer due to the urge to self-sacrifice and “fix” things.

3. Profound Sense of Worthlessness

Growing up in an environment where you weren’t appreciated or validated can lead to feeling flawed or inadequate. In such a state, you might become desperate and vulnerable to anyone who offers even a semblance of validation, such as flattery.

Narcissists prey on this vulnerability by employing love-bombing and providing validation to create an emotional bond. This can lead someone to become emotionally attached to a narcissist, as they offer something the individual has rarely experienced — validation, compliments, attention, and affection.

This attachment might cause someone to submit to a toxic person, as the narcissist becomes a source of “strength” and a means of feeling heard. This feeling of worthlessness might even foster a belief that being with a narcissist is the best one can do.

4. Opposites Attract

Life often leads us to individuals who are the opposite of ourselves, as we are drawn to qualities we lack. Narcissists can appear as attractive matches for those who have experienced childhood trauma. Superficially, they possess qualities that trauma survivors lack.

Common symptoms of childhood trauma include anxiety, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, panic attacks, or difficulty concentrating — qualities that narcissists seem to counteract with their apparent self-confidence, carefree attitude, and self-assuredness. Trauma survivors might find these qualities appealing, as they offer a false sense of wholeness by being near someone who has what they lack.


Childhood experiences can leave one feeling abandoned, rejected, and inadequate. When these emotions are carried from the past into the present, individuals may unconsciously gravitate towards toxic partners. It’s crucial to heal these inner child wounds so that we can approach the present with fresh eyes, free from the pain of the past.

Greater presence can help us recognize our own worth and establish clear boundaries. Without addressing our past hurts, forming deep connections in life can be challenging, as we’ll primarily function in survival mode. Healing leads to a healthy self-relationship and the recognition of one’s right to opinions and emotions.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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