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with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

Traits Narcissists Appreciate in their Targets

Narcissists or similar types of abusers will benefit from certain traits of the other parties in their relationships. The following list includes some of these traits. If you are a partner (also known as co-narcissist) of a narcissistic abuser, then use this list to help make the necessary changes you need to protect yourself.

Forgiving. Narcissists benefit from being with people who will forgive them for being hurtful. They will continuously hurt you, so in order for them to continue in the relationship, they need to be with someone who does not hold grudges.

Loyal. Narcissists require loyalty. That being said, the loyalty is only one way. Many narcissists demand loyalty from their partners, while hypocritically betraying the relationship themselves; sometimes by even cheating on their partners, with no remorse.

Overlooks the bad. Only sees the good in others. Co-narcissists often overlook people’s bad traits, tending to focus mainly on the good. If the narcissist has a bad temper, their partner may overlook this trait, focusing instead, on how good looking he/she is. Overlooking the bad is necessary for maintaining a relationship with a narcissist, for obvious reasons.

Have “external locus of control.” In other words, targets of narcissists are often people who are not “self-referencing,” but, rather are “other-referencing;” that is, they do not look internally for their decision making, such as by asking “How do I feel about this?” Rather, co-narcissists, evaluate decisions by how the other person might react, with no concern for the self.

Self-Sacrificing. Narcissists love to find partners who are self-sacrificing. Narcissists don’t have any desire to focus on the victim’s needs. He/she needs a partner who is willing to have no needs, that way, he/she can always make sure only the narcissist is taken care of.

Overly Responsible. Victims of narcissistic abuse tend to take on the responsibilities of others without even realizing it. Since narcissists are very emotionally, relationally, and otherwise, irresponsible, having a partner “pick of the pieces” helps keep the process going. After all, someone needs to raise the kids and pay the bills.

Accommodating. Narcissists want to have their own way. They tend to be rule-oriented and controlling. They are inflexible. It benefits narcissists to have partners who are willing to “go with the flow” and not make a big deal over anything, ever. If you are willing to not get your way, be extremely flexible, and willing to bend and compromise away your desires, schedule, wants, and needs, then you are exactly what a narcissist wants in his/her life.


If you believe your partner is abusing you and taking advantage of your good traits, then you can do something about it. You don’t necessarily need to stop having all of the awesome traits listed above, you just need to be wise and use discernment about when to display these traits.

Remember the verse in scripture, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine?”  It is helpful to use this saying when dealing with an abusive person. You can still possess these great traits, but you don’t have to bring them out for another person to exploit. You can stop being forgiving, loyal, outward focused, self-sacrificing, overly-responsible, and accommodating when dealing with any person who isn’t going to appreciate these traits in you. This is called wisdom and discernment.

How to implement wisdom and discernment:

Wisdom is the lessons you have learned from life’s experiences. If you are reading this article you have already become wise to the ways of a narcissist. You are probably aware of how you have been abused by this person. This means, that in exchange for the negative experiences you’ve had, you have gained wisdom. You understand on a deep level what it means to be in a relationship that is toxic and exploitative of others. Wisdom tells you to think before acting.

Discernment involves making choices based on wisdom. Once you realize that your good traits are being used as tools for your partner to manipulate you with, you can make decisions regarding when and with whom you will demonstrate your good traits. Utilizing the “Don’t’ throw your pearls before swine” quote, you can make a wise decision to “spend” your good traits only on those who deserve them and will use them well.


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Traits Narcissists Appreciate in their Targets

Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Southern California ( Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation. Sharie is also an abusive relationship recovery coach -


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APA Reference
Stines, S. (2020). Traits Narcissists Appreciate in their Targets. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from