WHY PEOPLE WITH ADHD and ADD ATTRACTED TO NARCISSISTS
If the emotional world was an ocean – then Narcissists would NOT be the Great White Sharks.
They would be Megalodons.
And Empaths would be Seals.
Not “seals” as in US NAVY S.E.A.L.S. badass, tough guy, air/land/sea warrior version either. No, this would be the “Awww” look at how cute!”, scared for them to get into the water on their own, watched-them-in-a-documentary-last-night-and-they-were-so-adorable version.
And certain types of people ADHD – the kind with higher than most people will ever understand degrees of empathy would not only be seals – they would be the naïve, always smiling, trusting, parents-out-of-town baby seals, oblivious BABY SEALS. But with a still bleeding cut jumping into the most infested part of the infested waters.
WHAT ATTRACTS A NARCISSIST TO SOMEONE WITH ADHD
This is a lot like asking the giant shark I mentioned earlier about the baby seals.
Seriously…? What’s not to like?
Narcissists need fuel, and that’s exactly what ADHD is. They need to be with and around people who trust them (stupidly). And ones who admire them (ignorantly), fight for them (passionately), encourage them (stupidly again), offer their hearts, talents, time, savings, reputations, and sacrifices to them zealously.
There aren’t a lot of people like that out there.
To make it even more difficult, the best toxic malignant narcissists in the world not only want trusting victims endlessly prepared to surrender everything of worth – they want them to be smart too. They want them to be attractive – and talented – and with groups of family, friends, and connections who can also be manipulated through masterful networking in order to add to their secondary sources of feeding.
In other words, they don’t just want a desperate, lonely, optionless victim to toy with like their latest emotional toy. They need their source of ego-stroking evidence of their superiority. It needs to be someone worthy of being on the trophy shelf inside their souls. Someone they can look at and beam with pride knowing they not only captured a naïve sensitive hearted moron, but they managed to snare, brainwash, and spiritually cripple someone highly sought after by the rest of the world.
Intelligent victims aren’t just more challenging to catch – they’re a lot more fun and useful when they’re caught. After all they can easily be counted on to come up with new and creative ways to justify the horrible behavior of the narcissist. They will passionately gush beautifully articulated speeches of support, and long-winded rationalizations to the angry relatives and long suffering former friends normally littering the past lives of the dark souled pretenders they’ve formed such unique and powerful intimate bonds with in ways they never felt about anyone else.
Even better than any of that – the exceptional intensity of certain ADHD empaths means never having to wait very long before for the sucker swearing eternal devotion to them gifts them with an explosion of emotion. It could be in the form of a gush, blowup, sob, growl, grumble, whince, heartache, or gnashing of the teeth – but whatever form it takes, it’ll be heartfelt, authentic, and many times agonizing – which makes it guaranteed 5-star level delicious to the conscience-less partner pulling all the strings while playing the role of victim.
Horrible, broken, weak people LOVE making extroverted good hearted people feel horrible, look broken, and sound weak.
And nobody feels more anguish over betrayal and heartbreak than these “wearing their heart on their sleeves” people.
It’s unbearable to the empath – and their pain is exquisite, even delicious to the narcissist.
People with ADHD who managed to hold on to their empathy were only able to survive the early years of their lives by building up and focusing on their gift to relate to the emotions of the people around them.
Many of them clearly remember the failures of the school room being eased every time their best friend or wounded family member told them they were great listeners. The endless times they were punished for not turning in homework or missing a deadline or not cleaning their room taught them how to apologize sincerely, communicate remorse authentically, and accept just how imperfect and disappointing they can be to those around them when it came to certain things.
And it didn’t matter how hard they tried.
They know how bad it hurts to try that hard and still not only fail, but be judged, labeled and rejected so many times by so many people that those moments leave not only deep life-long wounds and unshakable brokenness – but an instant-trigger explosive fiery temper anytime a situation reminds them of that “WHY CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT!?!?!” feeling they fight no hard to avoid.
In other words, they have a very intimate knowledge about the agony that comes from seeing themselves as being profoundly flawed on such a soul deep level that nothing could ever make them feel anything but unwanted – except for maybe the grace of a few people who wanted them anyway.
They know how much hope means when you feel hopeless – and they never forget it.
So – when the human vampires which are known as narcissists suddenly appear, they by their very predatory nature hit all the right fraudulent chords.
FIRST – They love bomb the eternally insecure and affection hungry ADHD mistake prone self-loather in such a way that for the first time in their lives they start to doubt their own faulty wiring. They start to wonder if maybe that innate certainty they always had about knowing they weren’t as good as everyone else wasn’t as certain as they always believed.
SECOND – This new wonderful person is not only pointing out the rare gifts that come from being off-the-chart sensitive, they’re articulating powerful insights into how rare yet overlooked and taken for granted those gifts have been in the eyes of so many other people close to their oblivious new prey. It’s intoxicating and loyalty inducing to hear someone – to hear anyone – finally voice all the positive, meaningful, impressive talents someone burdened and blessed with ADHD possesses. Music, art, language, acting, problem solving, discernment, compassion, humor, encouragement, and boldness are only a few areas and attributes associated with high IQ individuals with ADHD.
THIRD – The victim card.
This one is brilliant and pathetic all at the same time. Brilliant because takes the power of nourishing a previously starved sense of self-worth in the empath and combines it with an always tragedy filled fictional story of ravaging abuse designed to induce an unbreakable vow of protection and unquestioned loyalty from the empath who vividly remembers the pain of being made to feel worthless and humiliated.
An ADHD with high empathy doesn’t go more than 24 hours without more than a few surges of self-loathing washing over them for one unavoidable reason or another. They consciously live with the weight of shame, and can still hear nearly every voice that ever told them to “stop that”, “quit that” “do better”, “why can’t you stop that?” and/or “you just need to try harder”.
Most people have no idea the volcanic levels of rage, shame, and frustration that flows just under the surface of otherwise kind, even gentle personalities like these. But, after, years of being unfairly rejected by uninformed, less talented, average minded, and lazy people in positions of authority – and after lifetimes of being misunderstood and preached to by ignorant unaware family members you’re left with someone not only ready and willing to defend the defenseless when you find an ADHDer – you have a warrior ally ready to unleash on any voice attacking you without absolute proof of your guilt.
These people aren’t just willing to fight the good fight for a friend in need – these people are EAGER, BOLD, ANGRY and CAN’T WAIT TO JUMP INTO A WORTHY BATTLE and can be stunningly aggressive and fearless in the face of anyone they see as a bully or a threat to someone they love.
The Narcissist uses this 3 prong approach to masterfully weave what can be unbreakable bonds with the empath – like some all-powerful spell of deep loyalty grown from the most sensitive wounds.
- FEELING WANTED in place of feeling in need of correction
- BEAUTIFULLY ARTICULATED PRAISE they always ached to hear
- A CHANCE TO BE THE PROTECTOR, DEFENDER, HERO they never had
THE TWO INEVITABLE ENDINGS
As intoxicating as the beginning always is for both of these polar-opposite-souls, you can count on the ending being horrible enough to make at least one of them curse the day it started.
ENDING #1 – The Narcissist Devalue & Replace
Enough time and devaluing passes until the emotions, willpower and self-worth have all been whittled down and drained to the point there isn’t as much fuel provided to the narcissist to make it as thrilling as it used to be.
Lucky for them, being master manipulators makes it less than a challenge to find a new source to replace the person who has become so pathetic over time to no longer serve much use to either party. The evidence of this point on the relationship timeline can be identified when the only response the broken empath consistently shows to endless criticism is humbled, meekly worded apologies packaged with promises to do better. All of which only secretly repulses the Narcissist even more.
Once this stage is reached the empath may or may not be kept as a pet – but either way, they will be replaced in terms of who gets the majority of time. Attention, pseudo respect, and any semblance of consideration.
ENDING #2 – The Empath Awakens
In rare occasions the unexpected happens. The one person the Narcissistic abuser has come to see as the most gullible and least self respecting human to ever be able to walk on 2 feet while kissing ass with 2 lips actually proves to be someone else entirely.
After enough devaluing, enough unfair and uneven expectations, and relentless manipulations and grinding daily attacks on the self worth of the normally willing punching bag, a formerly unknown tipping point is reached – and it all goes straight to hell in spectacular furious fashion.
In these cases the manipulator has misread the victim and failed to realize they were never actually capable of enduring ENDLESS abuse. They only appeared that way because they were alway willing to accept mistakes, imperfections, misunderstandings, and even intentional bad choices because they were operating under the belief that both parties are sincerely “trying their very best to love each other their very best”.
As long as this version of the empath believes both people are sincere they can forgive and sacrifice and endure almost anything. They remember being given up on – which makes it impossible to give up on the one person who finally made them feel wanted and truly loved after so many years of believing everyone else views them as a disappointment.
But if the narc gets too intoxicated playing puppet master they can cross a line. They can do or say or repeat something so deeply insulting and un-missably humiliating without a shred of remorse or conscience that it snaps the illusion and breaks the empath free from the lie that they’ve ever been seen as anyone of worth.
Once they know – everything changes.
The empathy can be frozen. The kindness and endless willingness to be the designated abuse sponge comes to a screeching halt – And a dark, angry, intensely aggressive new person comes roaring to life.
How long it lasts depends on the person and the incident that triggered the awakening. In most cases, with enough humility and time the ADHD empath can be coaxed back and reassured things will be different moving forward – even if both parties know that isn’t likely to be the case.
But even if they come back – nothing will be the same. Both will know the truth about the other and be aware of the extreme incompatibility. And far worse, the illusion is broken that allowed them to believe they were sharing anything meaningful at all. The empath who hurt every time the person they loved hurt, and felt pride at every accomplishment, and felt fear, anger, joy, and hope every time the other person felt one of those things will realize those impulses and reactions have never been returned.
It’s a moment of betrayal that shocks the system and leaves a fracture no amount of superhuman rationalizing or mental gymnastics can ever completely heal.
At that point you finally discover if the empath is A WEAK WILLINGLY BROKEN EMPATH who surrenders all remaining trace self respect and individual opinions and internally merges their own goals and definitions of success into whatever the dominating dark narcissist selfishly chooses from that point on.
THE BROKEN EMPATH forms nearly unbreakable bonds of loyalty to serve, please, apologize, adore, comfort, protect, defend, excuse, punish, or assassin whatever and even WHOEVER they need to destroy just to get a mere pathetic pat on the head or table scrap word of approval they can get from their cruel dark masters.
These people are the repulsively weak fathers who will emotionally tear down and devour their own sons and daughters on behalf of the even slightly insulted narcissistic wife who expects her whipped subservient husband to reject and torment his own children if they displease his master.
This is the Mother who appears loving and supportive and encouraging as she nurtures you back t self respect and self worth after your narcissistic dad has beaten, ignored, dismissed, discarded, or simply ignored you time and time again – she’s your hero and savior and the good cop to his bad cop in your life. They’re so convincing when applying this empathetic soothing touch to your life t can take years, decades, or even an entire lifetime before you realize she was every bit as bad, and in some ways more damaging than the more obvious narcissistic parent who can be identified as dark and dangerous. She’s worse because she appears good and so loving – WHILE DOING NOTHING TO STOP THE ABUSE OF HER NARCISSISTIC PARENTING PARTNER.
She might relate to your pain – but she won’t stop it. Or explain why your self centered unloving dad felt compelled to beat you for the 1000th time – but she won’t stop number 1001. She might talk about how she would do anything for you because she “loves” you with “all my heart” but when you need her, need help, need to not be beaten, need to know you have a single safe place to heal or recover then you find out how much her words means when you need them to stop being “feel good” words and finally turn into much needed actions. They never do.
Words were all the WEAK BROKEN EMPATH is ever good for. That’s because at their root, they are allied body and broken soul to their dark master.
THE ANGRY SUPER NOVA EMPATH is another story completely.
These are the empaths that actually have the strength to walk away and ultimately WILL WALK AWAY the moment they finally understand the Narcissist has been pretending to be a wounded soul fighting to be better, but in reality has been intentionally toying with and puppeting the empath for the entire relationship.
Once they realize they haven’t been admired or respected for willingly taking insanely insulting abuse after abuse the way they believed they flood with anger and sense of trampled justice enough to utterly disintegrate whatever former love they have fought so tirelessly to save.
They find eternal motivation in the role of sacrificing deeply loving defender of the broken. This sense of identity is the main reason they stay.
But ALL MOTIVATION evaporates when they realize they aren’t admired, respected, or wanted for enduring abuse in the name of true love. In fact, they discover to their horror that they’ve been seen as weak, pathetic, crippled, and pitiful for being foolish enough to stay.
Many Narcissists make the mistake of thinking THE STRONG EMPATH stayed because they were weak and DEPENDENT on the relationship.
They were wrong.
In fact the revelation can trigger an almost bottomless rage fueled by a lifetime of being misjudged, mislabeled, rejected, and belittled from so many vital relationships in life.
These people are not only willing to leave a heartless narcissistic person once they see them for who they are – they find it impossible to stay with someone without conscience or remorse. This is because as imperfect and broken as they view themselves, they are normally proud of their strong empathy and view it as one of the few highly cherished profound aspects of who they are as a person.
Whatever attractions, talents, or tragic stories the narcissists has that pulled in the ADHD empath in during the love-bombing stage, NONE of them will be powerful enough to hold that previously unbreakable bond. Not once they realize staying in the relationship is evidence to the Narc of them being pathetic and weak.
Sadly, many times they leave with so much anger and finality they end up being more vulnerable to other narcissists. Ones who can use the traumatic ending of relationships to manipulate them into another toxic situation, as long as they provide the affection and admiration early and often at a time when the ADHD empath finds it most intoxicating.
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9 Comments on “Narcissists and ADHD: Why Do I Attract Narcissists?”
This is literally what went down in my relationship wtf, why is this so accurate???
I cried. I knew I dealt with a narcissist (7 years ago.. ..I hoped to marry him) and that I was an empath. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve truly understood that I have adhd . I decided to google this relationship between the two. I feel validated and I really appreciate this post.
Well… you have certainly summed up my reality here.
I have to say another reason someone with ADHD is drawn to the narcissist is because of the inability to stay within something “boring”. One thing a narc won’t be is boring (Initially… once you figure out it’s the same old abuse cycle it does become boringly predictable) . Especially with all the extreme highs (supply) a narc wants… someone with ADHD needs supply in their own way too not to get bored.
Perhaps in some ways we might mistake a narc for someone with ADHD except someone with ADHD and empathy doesn’t want to use people as supply. We respect human beings and want the best for them. That’s the very element missing inside the narc brain.
I’m speechless. I just got diagnosed with severe ADHD a few months ago…at 44…six years into my relationship. I’ve been married three years. Before my diagnosis, I…just didn’t know. I thought I was the one who lost things thirty times a day, got endlessly lost driving, couldn’t do laundry…. I was chronically overwhelmed and diagnosed with all sorts of things. And of course, I was a soldier in therapy—always willing to work on myself, endlessly apologize, take the blame. When I started adhd treatment, as everyone says, it was like getting glasses. I was like…wait. No, I didn’t use that tone. Hey, please don’t talk to me that way: I love you. My marriage exploded. Now, it’s like my husband has two personalities. And I’ve realized I only receive love when I’m doing exactly as he wants. It’s a real mindf*ck. And then I went months having empathy for his trauma, only to meet that soulless-eyed, clenched jawed…contempt…every time I talked about a need. Or even hinted at feedback that wasn’t glowing. Sigh. Not sure how to untangle myself, but I treasure my empathic gifts, my appreciative qualities…my generosity…and no matter what it takes, I’m getting out of this whole. But I’m mad he made me feel crazy for so long. Thanks for this post. I feel less alone.
Run. I just asked for a divorce after almost 22 years- it is a total mindf*ck – totally crazy when you realize your partner is a total narcissist. I’m proud to say I’m the angry super nova empath and excited to break free and hope to NEVER repeat those mistakes- I’ve learned so much. This article was super spot on- very deep. Hang in there- nothing is “wrong” with you- you just are wired a little diffo
This analysis is so accurate it hurts… all my life summed up. Just been diagnosed with adhd and complex ptsd but regardless, I’m an empath…. extreme one too. No filters. Possibly high IQ (never checked, too scared to be proved a moron although, from experience, people with so called “proven” low IQ mostly brought an incredible stories and perspective into my life so not sure why I’m so reluctant to find out…I feel that IQ testing is fundamentally flawed)
Over the past two years I went through the angry awaken empath stage. As you can imagine the kickback was immense and traumatic. I’m still very much in the process of healing and I am back with my choice of abuser because I love them, they are good, selfless people just lost (showed that countless times) I don’t believe anyone is a bad person at the core…. I am just finding the way to bring the best in them while maintaining my integrity
Unfrrrrucking believable … I have started my ADHD self discovery journey almost a year and half ago and have read hundreds of such accounts but none has ever described the actual situations, WORD FOR WORD, as this article has. I am blown away and I want to thank you for giving me something so accurate I can point to and remind myself “Hey, yeah … all those things DID happen. And exactly like that!”. I was with my Narc girlfriend for 10 years (from 16 to 26). Needless to say those were very formative years and it needed a series of really big, almost laughably insane accusations on her part for me to finally shatter the illusion. Even your description of the ADHD empath reaction is so crazy spot on! I definitely fell into the second category, going so far as thinking for 3 days straight, after finally realizing it, all the things I could do to get back and maybe get some of the stuff back I had bought her etc., my mind just racing to find a way to “get even”. Ultimately I did what many papers and articles suggested online and just completely removed her from my life. Blocking everything, clearing any left joint balances and delivering every last bit of her stuff in boxes to her door. I left her alm presents I gave etc. because ultimately what I want is a fresh start and I took away all of her ways and potential reasonings for contacting me again. Anyways, thank you so so much for this amazing retelling of such a clearly traumatizing and yet weirdly stealthy process in toxic ADHD/Narc relationships. All the best to everyone struggling with this and never forget, your gifts of empathy are but one of the incredibly fulfilling characteristics and skills such Narcissists can only dream of! You have what they will never have, accept them as sad existences in this world, that you cannot ever EVER change them, and move on! You have all the tools for the happiest of lives! Cheers!
Gut wrenchingly accurate. Heartbreakingly real. I don’t know if I feel better or worse for reading this.
The predictability of it is so upsetting – how can someone write so many peoples life story (reading the comments) without knowing any of them.
I don’t know you personally but your grasp of this and your ability to articulate it so perfectly is not only beautiful, it’s incredibly important. I’m now going to try and read every word you’ve ever written about ADHD. (Obviously in place of doing the thing I should be doing because, well, you know – ADHD)
I wish you and all the people who have commented on this post love and happiness – though sadly I fear we might never find it 😢
So many have said it above. Matthew I share your sentiments absolutely. Wow, wow, thank you for this article. 13yrs in a relationship with a narcissist and only when I called him on it after he suggested he’d never met a bigger narcissist in a work colleague did he see his mask had slipped and our time was done. Ghosting happened quickly and it was indeed a surprise but almost 4 years on, two long term narcissist relationships down and a recent ADHD diagnose for myself at age 48, I’m so glad for the learnings, sharing of stories and hopefully a totally enlightened approach and relationships to come! Hope the same for you all here.