In order for a narcissist to feel emotionally stable, they have to receive a consistent flow of narcissistic supply. This is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that narcissists get from their surrounding environment. The only way that they can do this is by surrounding themselves with the “right” type of people.

Narcissists surround themselves with flying monkeys, narcissist enablers, people that they view as weak and/or undesirable, people who are overly empathic and/or feel the need to rescue others, people who are considered to be high status, and people who have attributes that the narcissist values.

This article is going to help you understand the reason that narcissists surround themselves with the people they do so you can better protect yourself from abuse and manipulation.

Flying Monkeys

A flying monkey is someone who a narcissist manipulates into helping them abuse another person. There are three types of flying monkeys that narcissists surround themselves with.

The three types of flying monkeys

1. Manipulated – A Manipulated Flying Monkey is created when a narcissist spreads demeaning lies about the person that they are abusing. These lies are designed to support the narcissist’s narrative that portrays the person that they are abusing as the abuser and themselves as the victim. 

2. Forced – A Forced Flying Monkey is created by the fear that narcissistic abuse creates in group settings (e.g. workplace, family, friend group). These types of flying monkeys are terrified of becoming the target of the narcissist’s wrath if you don’t do exactly what they say.

3. Natural – A Natural Flying Monkey is someone who becomes a flying monkey because they enjoy drama, toxic environments, and/or being abusive towards others. They don’t necessarily believe in the narcissist’s narrative and they aren’t scared of them either. They just like the drama, toxicity, and abuse that comes with being a flying monkey.

Narcissists surround themselves with flying monkeys because flying monkeys help them maintain power and control over their surrounding environment. When a narcissist fears that someone is going to expose them to others, they will send flying monkeys to silence, discredit, and isolate them.

Suggested Readings:

Our articles How to Spot a Flying Monkey,” How to Deal With Flying Monkeys,” and What Are Flying Monkeys? have helpful information that you can use to learn more about flying monkeys.

Narcissist Enablers

A narcissist enabler is a person who gaslights those experiencing narcissistic abuse because they themselves don’t understand narcissism/narcissistic abuse. There are three types of narcissist enablers.

1. Ignorant – An Ignorant Narcissist Enabler is someone who flat out doesn’t understand narcissism or narcissistic abuse. There are two types of Ignorant Narcissist Enablers: 

  • Enablers who are truly confused by narcissism and narcissistic abuse.
A narcissist enabler who is confused about narcissistic abuse
  • Enablers who don’t want to learn about narcissism and narcissistic abuse
A narcissist enabler who doesn't want to learn about narcissistic abuse

2. Self-Serving – A Self Serving Enabler is someone who enables a narcissist for their own personal gain. For example, an assistant coach who enables the narcissistic head coach’s abuse towards the players because the head coach is well connected and has promised to help the assistant coach better his/her career. 

Self-Serving Enablers don’t have the courage to do the right thing by calling the narcissist out on their abusive behavior. They rather protect their own selfish interests by deceiving and gaslighting the people who acknowledge the narcissist’s abuse than stand up for what is right.

A narcissist enabler who is justifying a narcissist's behavior.

3. Pollyanna – Pollyanna Narcissist Enablers believe that everyone deserves to be given multiple chances and they fight tooth and nail to find the best in everyone. Pollyanna Narcissist Enablers are dangerous because their optimism shames and guilts those being abused by narcissists into justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing the abusive behavior. 

Narcissists surround themselves with narcissist enablers because enablers help narcissists trick others to justify, rationalize, and normalize abuse and manipulation.

When narcissists are able to create an environment where their behavior is accepted, they gain access to an unlimited amount of narcissistic supply and feel more comfortable because nobody is contradicting their grandiose self-perception and public persona by calling them out and holding them accountable for their abusive behavior.

Suggested Reading:

Narcissist enablers are some of the toughest adversaries that you’ll come across in the narcissistic realm. Our article What Are Narcissist Enablers? has a lot of helpful information that you can use to protect yourself from them.

People Who Are Overly Empathic

The term “empathy” means the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of your own perspective. Overly empathic people have a tendency to be too in tune with other people’s emotions and mirror them with the same intensity. 

A teacher teaching a class about narcissism and narcissistic supply

Overly empathic people are constantly validating, admiring, and reassuring the narcissist’s grandiose self-perception and public persona which makes the narcissist feel amazing. But unfortunately, narcissists take advantage of overly empathic people because they know that the person will never leave them.

What is more likely to happen is that the overly empathic person will justify, rationalize, and normalize the abuse that they are experiencing because it is in their nature to search for the good in everyone.

An empath searching for the good in a narcissist.

Narcissists keep overly empathic people around because they are amazing sources of narcissistic supply. They don’t care about their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, narcissists just want the narcissistic supply that overly empathic people provide.

Suggested Reading:

In our article Do Empaths Attract Narcissists or Do Narcissists Attract Empaths? there is a lot of helpful information that you can use to learn more about the reason narcissists seek out overly empathic people.

People Who Feel the Need to Rescue Others

A rescuer is someone who feels the need to rescue/save other people. Rescuers often take on the responsibilities, burdens, and problems of other people. They also concern themselves with other people’s lives, problems, and decisions more than they do their own.

A very common manipulation tactic that narcissists use to manipulate someone who feels the need to rescue/save others is feeding them a sob story.

For example, if a narcissist were to tell a rescuer (image below):

A narcissist telling a rescuer a sob story to manipulate them

A narcissist will never be grateful for this. They will simply use this opportunity to exploit the good nature of the rescuer until they have nothing left. Sadly, rescuers are notorious for putting themselves in bad situations just to rescue or save the narcissist and this is why narcissists keep them around. 

People Who Are Considered to be High Status

One of the nine characteristic/personality traits that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is (image below):

Someone talking about a narcissist's need to associate themselves with high status people.

This belief is really important for a narcissist to maintain because it helps them get the narcissistic supply that they need to regulate their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Remember, narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, and reassurance that narcissists get from others.

One of the ways that narcissists maintain the belief that they are special and unique is by surrounding themselves with high status people.

The reason for this is that when narcissists surround themselves with high status people, it validates their fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love to both themselves and others.

For example, if you met a narcissist and they told you this lie, “Just last week I had dinner with the president and we spoke about a new bill coming up. I made some suggestions but I don’t really care about the outcome because I am going to move to an island soon.

A narcissist bragging about themselves

If this narcissist is surrounded by high status people (i.e. congressional representatives, senators, millionaires, celebrities, etc.) you would probably believe them. But if they spent most of their time at home playing video games, you’d probably spot their lies and not be tricked.

Narcissists need to surround themselves with high status people in order to convince both themselves and others of their grandiose fantasies. Also, it is important to note that “high status” has a wide range of possibilities. It could be the star football player in a small town or a famous billionaire. It all depends on where the narcissist is in their life.

Suggested Reading:

Our article Why Do Narcissists Fantasize? has really important information that you can use to grasp a better understanding of the reason that narcissists seek out high status people.

People Who Have Attributes That the Narcissist Values

Generally speaking, someone who is emotionally competent will surround themselves with people who they have a genuine connection with. There’s a variety of different reasons why this connection exists, but the fact of the matter is that it does.

Narcissists are some of the most emotionally incompetent people on the planet. They do not seek out genuine connections. Rather, they are attracted to the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial things that life has to offer. This is why they surround themselves with people who have attributes that they value.

A woman giving an example of a narcissist surrounding themselves with people who they admire

This is true for all types of narcissistic environments, not just romantic ones. For example, a narcissistic parent will distance themselves from the scapegoat because they find the child undesirable, but will have a closer relationship with the golden child because that child has attributes that the narcissist values.

The reason that narcissists surround themselves with people who have attributes that they value is because they are extremely shallow. They actively avoid genuine thoughts, feelings, and emotions because they don’t understand them.

A superficial narcissist

They don’t care about the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of others, they just care about how forming a “relationship” with another person will benefit them.

Suggested Reading:

Our article What Do Narcissists Want In a Relationship? has helpful information that will help you grasp a better understanding of the value narcissists place on the people around them and why.

People That They View as Weak And/or Undesirable

This is a tricky one. Narcissists will surround themselves with people that they view as weak and/or undesirable. The reason that narcissists do this is because they need someone to project all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions on.

If you didn’t know already, deep down narcissists feel inadequate, worthless, weak, unlovable, and unwanted, but unfortunately, they are too emotionally incompetent to take responsibility for/address these painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions , so they project them onto others.

Narcissists surround themselves with people who they find weak and/or undesirable so they have someone to target. By invalidating, devaluing, degrading, and humiliating this person on a regular basis, narcissists can figuratively point their finger at them and think to themselves, “I’m not the weak, worthless, unlovable, unwanted, and inadequate one, they are.”

A narcissist feeling very negatively about themselves

This is projection, a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes parts of their identity that they find unacceptable (for a narcissist this is their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions) and places them onto someone else.

Narcissists are careful not to associate themselves with people that they find weak and/or undesirable, but they make sure that they are close by so they can direct their anger and hatred for themselves at them.

Suggested Readings:

Generally speaking, people that narcissists view as weak and/or undesirable are known as scapegoats. In our articles How Do Narcissists Choose Their Scapegoat? and Why Do Narcissists Need a Scapegoat? you can learn a lot about scapegoating and what it really means.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

A narcissist will surround himself/herself with people that give them narcissistic supply and help them regulate their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This could be a flying monkey, narcissist enabler, someone that they view as weak, those who are overly empathic, those who feel the need to rescue others, people who are considered to be high status, or people who have attributes that the narcissist values.

Either way, narcissists do not care about the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of others. They are only interested in surrounding themselves with people who cater to their needs.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5),

Maaß, Ulrike, et al. “Narcissists of a feather flock together: Narcissism and the similarity of friends.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 42.3 (2016): 366-384.