One definition of a codependent is someone who feels responsible for other people’s feelings, problems, and behaviors to the exclusion of themselves. While this isn’t the only definition of codependency, codependents are, in general, willing to sacrifice their own emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing (and even safety) in order to sustain their relationships and take care of their partners and family members.
Of course, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. It definitely takes two to be in a relationship. And, this type of pleaser/fixer personality is the unfortunate compliment for someone who prefers the role of taker/controller.
While I’ve spent a lot of time discussing the role codependency plays for those of us who are, or have been, in relationships with addicts, people with addictions are not the only ones who “latch on” to codependents or for whom codependents sacrifice themselves…
Codependents often find themselves in relationships with people on the narcissist personality spectrum.
Narcissism is often defined in terms of being the opposite of codependency. A narcissist is said to be someone who is excessively involved with his or her self, who feels entitled and places his or her own feelings, needs, and desires above those of anyone else in a relationship, and who lacks compassion and empathy.
Interestingly, while narcissists and codependents are often seen and defined in these opposing terms, narcissists share many of the same core symptoms as codependents, including denial, shame, dysfunctional boundaries, and a need to control others and dependency on others for validation. In other words, most narcissists can also be classified as codependents, though the opposite is not true (most codependents do not share the characteristics of narcissists). In fact, about the only things separating narcissists from codependents are narcissists’ lack of empathy and sense of entitlement.
Given all of this, it becomes much easier to see why codependents and narcissists often become involved in relationships with one another…
A Match Made in Misery
Both narcissists and codependents can appear extremely warm, charming, and caring at the outset of a relationship – the narcissist in order to gain appreciation and favor, the codependent to lavish attention.
While the codependent can easily “fall” for the narcissist’s attention and charms, the narcissist can quickly become enamored with what the codependent offers, namely complete control of the relationship.
The codependent willingly sacrifices boundaries, personal desires, goals, and even personal happiness in order to pursue and please the narcissist, who loves the attention and the feeling of being everything and all things to the codependent.
Unfortunately, this initial fairy tale is actually a trap that is doomed to end in misery…
Once the narcissist has “won” the codependent – although it can be just as “fair” to say, “once the codependent has ‘won’ the narcissist” – the narcissist no longer feels his or her initial charm is necessary. Having gotten the codependent’s love, affection, sacrifice, and care, the narcissist now feels entitled to them.
Of course, the codependent now finds himself or herself in an all-too-familiar situation…
While the codependent desperately craves the love and attention the narcissist initially showered upon him or her, he or she will likely never experience it again. The narcissist has already moved on to his or her next conquest. And, the more the codependent tries to save or win back or recreate the relationship that he or she has always wanted, the more attention the narcissist receives from the codependent without having to give anything in return.
Escaping the Trap
Codependents don’t typically see ending the relationship as an option, if only because they’d see doing so as a failure, and a personal failure at that. Remember, saving the relationship is the codependent’s “job” … The codependent sees it as his or her responsibility. The narcissist, finding it valuable to keep someone around who’s willing to sacrifice his or her boundaries and self to please the narcissist, will continue to string the codependent along and give them just enough attention to keep the codependent’s hope alive.
Since the narcissist lacks empathy and sees nothing wrong with his or her own behavior, the narcissist has little reason to change.
This means it’s typically up to the codependent to end the relationship. But, due to codependents’ lack of self-esteem, the thought of being alone is often worse than the thought of remaining in an unhealthy, one-sided, loveless relationship. There’s the trap.
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It’s often not until the codependent reaches some sort of breaking point that he or she becomes willing to even consider ending the relationship, let alone seek professional help. But some sort of professional counseling or psychotherapy – as well as the support of a group such as Codependents Anonymous or that provided here at Wake Up Recovery – is almost always necessary for codependents to learn how to set healthy boundaries and understand that the only way they’ll ever find or create the relationship they know deep down inside is possible is by doing the healing work necessary to love themselves enough not to get involved in another dysfunctional relationship.
The codependent-narcissist trap is not an easy trap to get out of, but us codependents can break free… As long as we’re willing to ask for help and do the work necessary to learn how to love ourselves!
Have you found yourself in dysfunctional relationships with takers/controllers? Are you still in one? If so, what’s keeping you in that relationship? And, if you’ve escaped the trap, what did it take for you to do so? Be sure to share your thoughts and questions using the comment section below so we can all learn from and help each other…
Thank you Sherry. Having a relationship with a narcissist and how to either set and keep healthy boundaries, or end the relationship seems to be a common theme in the CoDA meetings I have gone to and also in talking to family and friends not attending CoDA. This was very helpful to read. I will share it with them.. Staying mindful and centered as much as I can helps me set and keep clear boundaries so that I can get out of and keep out of the codependent/narcissist trap. This blog will help me with that.
Thank you Sharleen for sharing your experience. It took me a long time to understand the relationship between my ex husband’s addiction and narcissism. It was very easy to get sucked in. What I have learned is to detach as much as possible because when I engage, it’s easy to get sucked back in again. Boundaries are key.
I met him while going through a bad divorce. He was so sweet and caring and took care of me in ways my cheating husband never did. Though one day a few months in he wanted to end it saying I was too nice and he didnt want to hurt me… I should have taken it as that instead of having him in my life. We have lived together for 2yrs in this strange codependent partnership that is more like a relationship than friendship yet not all at the same time. He has anger problems and will talk down to me when he is in a mood and sometimes make threats, and I feel awful, its those time that I plan my escape. Then a week or so go by and he softens, he has so many plans in his head and he’ll say one showing me that he wants me in his life and that he cares about the future. I try not to get sucked back in so I can just walk out one day, but the codependent me worrys what walking out will do to him or wonder if he will retaliate.
Patricia please don’t beat yourself up. Codependency recovery needs to be exercised just like any addiction. One of our members has broken free from a very unhealthy codependenct relationship and so can you. There is always hope. Check out our tribe. The link is in the square above. If you have trouble finding the link, email me at email@example.com. Thank you for reaching out Patricia.
Thank you sherry not only for sharing information to help others, but for using his/or her describing a narcissist. When I first heard the term narcissist, i totally ignored it because the information used he and him describing a narcissist, suggesting an abusive husband which was the total opposite of what i was going through. I know if a gender hadn’t been placed on narcissism i wouldn’t have ignored the information and definitely wouldn’t have married two who i believe go far beyond the description of a malignant narcissist. I also believe from my experience and studying on the topic me having more empathy than most brought the extreme narcissistic behaviors out of them. You asked to share how someone got out of a narcissist trap, i hope my story helps what’s not widely recognized where many sufferer with no options available. As soon as I read what a narcissist trap was, that’s when my no really meant no. And before i continue I’d like to say I have three daughters, i’m extremely thankful they could get help from such an experience. But real help is geared towards helping women. It’s true when you try exposing a narcissist who is further up the scale, they will attack you to no end. Mine being a female made it easier to cause as much damage as possible. When a woman uses tears as a weapon, claiming to be abused, society has a no tolerance for men abusing women, rightly so, but unfortunately as in my situation, men are punished harshly before validating the story sometimes. And once your seen as the aggressor, there’s very little chance to overcome the false accusation. In my case, it didn’t matter that i put great effort in trying to avoid any contact, it made the toxic person more determined. And after numerous attacks and being arrested, ignoring more than one court ordered stay aways getting the least amount of punishment each time, it only took one (admitted) false claim to while having a warrant for attempted murder, for officials to drop her warrant and place one on myself that came very close to getting me shot by three deputies just doing their job. Even after they admitted to falsifying the charges, the justice system refuses to acknowledge they were manipulated into being just as harmful as the crimes against me were. The toxic individual in my life has not been held accountable for four murder attempts. Acting as the helpless victim allowed her to continually attack while i was desperately trying to defend myself from her and the justice system. And to prove the justice system is bias, the last attempt on my life that left me injured she only got two years for stalking and aggravated assault. The decision to get out of a narcissist trap has left me financially destroyed defending myself, and injured where I can’t provide for myself. Searching for help needing a surgery from the attack, and any other support has been degrading, there is no available help for men. I’ve called every place that claims to help domestic violence victims, and it doesn’t matter that i explain I’ve sold most i own to get this far and see only a horrible ending, I’m denied everytime. Men being abused isn’t taken as serious, and I caution anyone to not try getting out of a narcissist trap without professional help.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry for everything you have gone through and hopefully there will be more understanding men can be victims too. Sherry
Patricia don’t beat yourself up. Codependency recovery is a muscle you continually have to exercise. One of our Wake Up Recovery members has been able to let go of a similar relationship and so can you.
Has anyone had the experience of getting to your extreme breaking point” i.e. feeling physically sick, depressed, ptsd, job affected etc. only to go running back to the narc again after you swore you wouldn’t? After you broke up with them and did no contact for a short time? Because the pain/depression from the break up from being without them was too hard to bear (hard to get out of bed and do basic things) so you go running back to the same person that caused everything in the first place for a temporary “fix”/cure to avoid the pain of breaking up?
Whenever you are starting to feel better or if you start to decline the natural inclination is to go back but it will only start the cycle of abuse again. You might need support from a community through this break up. Come join our tribe. You will meet with others going through the same thing. https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co1/ and video lessons and master classes that will help you through the recovery process. See you there. Sherry
I have just discovered that I am a codependent engaged to a narcissist. I feel I can’t escape because of my emotional attachment to him and also the fact that he is a recovering alcoholic who has liver disease and other health problems, is out of work, living with me and depends on me. I can’t just kick him out on the street. I love him too much to do that. I’m going to see a counselor tomorrow to hopefully get some help in this area.
Sharleen, I am so sorry for your situation and your fiancee. I do believe you sound codependent and although he has health issues, he is in recovery and if you are questioning whether you want him to live with you, I am sure he has friends in his recovery program that will help him. You sound compassionate, but is your fiancee where you want to direct your compassion. If you do, I recommend Alanon or joining my program https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/where we are working through our codependency issues and understanding the addict in or out of recovery. Seeing a counselor is great idea to dive into where codependency began and to be curious if you are being taken advantage of and is this your history in other relationships.
I went to Alanon and was discarded by the narcissist after being married 29 years. Some say he already had a 35 y/o new supply at the office. He never hoovered. I’ve been no contact.
When I’m around him, he’s angry and dark. I’ve also experienced severe parent alienation. But, I’m thriving.
Thank you for sharing Sharleen. I am so happy you are now thriving!!!!
Great article. So difficult for the co-dependent to work on themselves while in the relationship because as the co-dependent starts getting healthier the narcissist will pull out all the stops to suck them back in, and with weak self-worth/esteem the co-dependent believes what they are told: that no one else will want them or ever love them, etc.
Joyce, that is not only narcissism that is verbal abuse. When a narcissist tells you that no one else will want you, that’s because of his own fears of abandonment when you start to get healthy. He fears you may leave and you finally see him for the broken person he is. You are not weak Joyce. Narcissists are masters at saying what they think you want to hear to get you to stay or will hurt you to the core to break you. Keep going to meetings, get support, and know your truth. Sherry
I left my narcissistic husband only when the abuse reached a point that I FINALLY realized I would end up dying if I stayed. In addict speak, I “hit rock bottom.” I just realized that while typing this.
Thank you Jill. I did too. I got shingles, was losing hair, a staph infection, kidney stones, post traumatic stress, and depression. I had no choice but to leave my addict or I would have gone down with him. Congratulations for your courage. Sherry
Phew. As a husband to a wife suffering with NPD and Histrionic P.D. there is a dimension that makes it really hard. It feels very hard being the man and having the power to exit a dysfunctional, unhealthy relationship. We have 4 children together, one with special needs, and my leaving also includes losing my kids — at least a large portion of time with them — and abandoning them to her and her independent and successful (without me) life. It’s a tremendously difficult position to be in. We have contemplated divorce and separation but both times we have seriously started down this road I start to feel like I’m losing everything and cling to the relationship like a drowning man. It feels like such a dark and lonely place to be alone, walk away from my kids as well as the imagined life with my wife — whom I still love despite her direct language of disrespect and hatred. I am the guy you described in your post here, clinging to the pain I know because the pain and uncertainty of the unknown feels worse and even more chaotic. I am surviving but trying to do my part to participate in a marriage without intimacy or empathy. I committed to a sick woman and when we met at the altar “in sickness and in health” is what I vowed so there is a shame and guilt associated with letting go. I have been reading and studying and learning a lot about my co-dependency and NPD abuse, but this is where I am for today…. Thank you so much for the conversations.
Aaron, it must be so difficult to be in fear of losing your four children if you leave your wife. I wasn’t in that situation when I divorced my addict husband who had some narcisstic traits. However, I did have other fears. Shame and guilt can be immobilizing. I know for a fact codependents can have all sorts of health issues when they continue in a toxic situation. Will that be good for your kids? Is it better to be healthy mentally and physically and do the best you can when you have your children if you were to separate? Will you continue to have the energy to be present for your children if you stay in your crazy making marriage? Or can you endure the despair you are in and still be available for your children? Is quantity more important then quality time with your children? I do not minimize your situation and staying or leaving is not going to be easy; but the question is in which scenario can you be the best father for your children? Thank you for sharing your heartfelt comment. Sherry
I had an affair that allowed me to detach and see the other side long enough to get divorced. Of the affair was a mess and he was classic narcissist, I’m happy I got out. However, my ex comes to my house on all of my kid days, and he stays for dinner. I don’t know how I feel about this. Although, every dinner ends with yelling and him belittling me. So my kids are pretty upset. Guess I’m still in denial! After reading my own words, I’m going to look up a CODA meeting today.
Alicia, thank you for your comment. I think it would probably be best for you to have boundaries and not invite him in if you and him are arguing in front of the kids. That can be very traumatic for your children. That trauma can have a lasting effect. The new normal is you are co-parenting with separate time with your children. I was a family mediator and what I learned is the best thing for your children is to not put them in the middle.
Can a narrsisist be “cured” or rehabilitated?
No a narcissist cannot be cured. Not everyone is a full blown narcissist with a narcissistic personality disorder; others may have narcissistic traits. Those individuals have a better chance of working on their issues in therapy.
Hi Sherry, I was sharing this article from Psychology Today with my daughter (codependent, going through a divorce from a narcissist) and saw your link. Did you or Darlene Lancer write this? I got confused. 🙂
Thank you for checking in Andre. Yes, Darlene posted this article for me. I hope it was helpful. Sherry
A narcissist found me through a mutual acquaintance on Facebook, beginning a months-long virtual long-distance attachment that triggered so much past trauma, I sought professional help and eventually deactivated my Facebook account. The thing was, I almost deleted this guy’s humble and charming introduction. There was “something” about him and his approach that made me hesitant. When the mutual acquaintance vouched for him – later admitting she didn’t know him well – I let down my guard. In the beginning this guy communicated at a deep level and revealed a lot about himself. He showered me with sweetness and phony interest, drawing me out and learning as much as he could about me. We had so much in common that we had hours-long phone conversations and frequent texts. His attention (and my fantasy of who I “thought” he was) was intoxicating. About 4 weeks into daily texting and phone calls, however, his mask began slipping. I even journaled about his red flags – full-blown depression, insomnia, out-of-the-blue insensitive and rude remarks, a past history of dysfunctional relationships, financial problems and, I realized later, quite possibly, a pain pill addiction. I listened to him for hours pour out his heart about a recent breakup (feeling sorry for him and believing my support was helping him). But as his mask kept slipping, I felt toyed with and used. I researched narcissism, decided he was “grooming” me and got myself into therapy. I slowed down on texting, made it obvious I had other friendships and things to do. Sure enough, he lost interest, popping up at intervals to see if I was still “there” until I told him to stop contacting me. Thankfully, he reneged on plans to meet up in the first couple months, so nothing physical happened between us. The experience was a profound and painful lesson in being self-aware, firm about my boundaries, and not having any qualms about dropping somebody as soon as I see red flags. Emotionally, I was raw for a long time, deeply disappointed and saddened. But getting life coaching, going no-contact and adding somatic experiencing to my therapy helped me heal old wounds as well as that one. Awhile afterward, I dated another guy a few times. When I started noticing similar narcissist red flags, I slowed things down. He went away. Tuning into my own feelings and focusing on my own life purpose and goals not only made it easier to let go of those emotional vampires, I doubled my income. There are lots of creeps and broken people out there. The digital world provides them a virtual feast. At over age 60, I thought I had done enough inner work over the past 30 years to not repeat old patterns. As it happened, though, I avoided what could have been a huge disaster. The lesson: Stay aware, go slowly, keep your focus on YOU! Okay. This got quite a bit longer than intended, but I hope it helps someone.
Thank you for sharing Sunny. I talk about narcissistic abuse because it is often what can transpire for un-treated codependency and trauma. I am s Somatic Experiencing practioner and it is the greatest treatment by far for post traumatic stress. I am sure your post will be helpful for those finding themselves in these type of relationships.
Thank you for sharing Sunny. I too am 60, and wonder why I am still learning to identify red flags. Glad to know I’m not the only one!
It’s so amazing how your story sounds just like my husband. I got trapped with this man and it wasn’t until I was totally ruined before I got out. I’m still not healed from this relationship. It actually made me aware of all of my past experiences and unhealthy relationships to the point that I now realize I need a mental health professional. I have been trapped since childhood, as I now realize my mother is a narcissist. When your whole life is perceived one way, it’s really a slap in the face when you wake up. I am in another unhealthy relationship, dreaming of a normalcy that may never come true.
Diane, it is never too late to wake up but yes, at first there is this grieving process that we have to go through before we enter into another relationship or we will be picking the same person, just a different name and face. Although scary and painful, spending some time with yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It is true self-care, self-love, and self-compassion.
Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. This is a very clear outline of the behaviors and beginning of the cycle.
I can’t get out of the relationship because I take care of him financially, and he will not leave my house. I have been trying to coax him gently, but there is always another excuse why he can’t move out or get a job to take care of himself. If I confront him about it, he lashes out emotionally, or plays the victim and makes me feel guilty. He is angry with me now because I said I couldn’t buy him a car after he moves out. 🙁
Kat why are you taking care of him financially? Is that necessary? Why can’t he work and support himself? I used that as an excuse because I was afraid my ex would be homeless, not be able to put gas in his car to go to work, and might relapse if I didn’t take care of him. It didn’t matter. No matter what I did for the narcissistic addict, he wasn’t going to change. I thought I was in control and I NEVER was and you aren’t either. He has his own path. Kick the freeloader out.
I suspect that the reasons you feel you “can’t “leave the relationship are more about yourself than anything going on with him or other external circumstances. Your psychological wellbeing is much more important than catering to a narcissists insatiable need for control. He is exploiting, controlling and manipulating you to the nth degree. You are not responsible for his anger, it’s a way of controlling you. And he cannot make you feel guilty, that’s your stuff, however, he’s using your guilt as leverage to further manipulate and control you. Hold onto your true self, respect yourself and change those locks! Also I suggest you get a good therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. Best wishes on your journey towards your real Self…
It’s peculiar – as an adult child working the recovery associated with the laundry list – I try to be particularly mindful of red flags.
My most recent experience was with a workaholic who absolutely resented my existence that predates him. I haven’t quite been able to figure out how I can intellectually know how terrible this person is for me and my recovery, yet emotionally I feel completely consumed. I can see the patterns, I understand the comfort in familiarity, even when that’s pain. But I can’t figure out why there seems to be a piece holding out hope (subconsciously) that this person would be my chance to rewrite history, when I know he is entirely incapable of meeting my needs. My emotional self hasn’t figured out how to meet my own needs rather than hoping they will be satisfied externally.
Jenna, thank you for reaching out. Sometimes it is difficult to move forward becaue there is deep seated wounds that need healing and a new way of programming. It sounds like you have the intellecutual knowledge but now you need to re-program your subconscious and to connect with yourself more deeply rather then with those on the outside. We would love to have you join our community where we use the law of attraction to do just that.https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/
I am the narcissist of several of these relationships, but I ended the last one due to realizing exactly what this article explains. I am a poison to her. Yet we ended up having a son together, broken up and states away until just this week, she moved back to my state because it is where she wants to go to school and to have me in his life always.
She still relys on me and I believe still thinks we will end up together. I don’t know how to get her to realize how bad I am for her, truly. She just thinks I beat myself up too much.
Thank you for sharing your situation. Just continue to be honest with your ex. You are powerless over her fantasy of getting back together, but if you continue to stay on your side of the street with authenticity and truth, you have done your part.
Any authenticty is not easy, but I shall do my best.
Do you truly believe there is no changing for those with a narcissistic pattern of behavior? That the need for validation and power can be tamed or eliminated in truth, not in adopted behaviors that would emulate a reformed narc? That humility is within reach? What do you do when you live within a “monster” and see the depth of depravity, but nothing works?
I came across your blog as I was researching the “trauma bond”. I left my passive-aggressive covert narcissist husband over a year ago. He continually uses guilt and manipulation to keep me from moving on. I never wanted to leave, but I knew that i needed to for my health because I had hit rock bottom. He consistently tests my boundaries and uses my daughter to manipulate me into seeing him. People get very frustrated that I keep letting him do this to me. I know that it is up to me to break this “trauma bond”, but I struggle with it.
Thank you for reaching out. I have been there and still struggle with my ex alcoholic. There is a huge trauma bond and he does the same thing reaching out on ocassion. I accept what it is, a trauma bond. Have compassion for yourself. It’s a very strong bond even if it’s toxic. The good news is you know what it is becasue you now have an awareness.
How do you get help for a loved one trapped in this EXCAT situation. We (our family) are genuinely concerned for her personal safety and well-being.
Find a psychotherapist that understands the codependent narcissistic relationship; give her articles about the subjerct, find FB groups that share information about the subject and expert you tube videos such as the Litte Shaman that descibe these relationships perfectly.
I loved a woman with NPD (maybe not 100% but quite). By this example I can tell that narcissists are able to love. Only this love is immature and incomplete. This relationship has several phases. In the first one she gave me full time attention and acceptance. I must say no woman gave me that strenght and sense of self-esteem before. After nearly two years (we lived seperetaly) I was bored that kind of relation and saw it superficial because I didn’t feel inspired anymore. Once she discovered something and accused of things I didn’t do it. She did it in a horrible manner. She wanted to leave me so I started to desperately save our relationship. After a long battle and silent days she finally agreed to be with me once again (but she couldn’t have felt remorse for the way she treated me – typical for narcs). It was that time when she first told me she loved me (at that time I wasn’t sure if I loved her). Although at the beginning this new period was intense I soon felt that it is not how I wanted to be, I felt that our relationship stuck and I can’t see real natural emotions in my fiance. She also became more and more pessimistic. And then step by step something new was born. She started to fluorish in my presence and for the first time I saw her natural joy. It was then when I realized I love her. We found ourselves in natural harmony where one of us (me) is giving love and the other is able to receive that love and grows on it. It were these days when she became self-confident, smiling and grateful. We had plans together. I’m not sure how did last but at certain stage I realized i could be with her for good and bad. As time went by I felt that the more I care about her the less she was interested. Once I came to visit her and when she opened the door didn’t even look at me. Now I know that was high time I should have abondened her. But I couldn’t. I struggle for that time when she was eager to get love from me. I was resigned more and more and then …..
Sounds like the relationship is one of a codepent narcissistic dance; as one grows closer, the other moves away and then as one moves away, the other one wants to get closer. Healthy relationships are reciprocal; there is no back and forth with so much drama. You will know when it is right when you meet that person and there is flow and calm.
… and then she got pregnant. I was stunned and confused at first but soon I started to rejoice and think of a new role in my life. I proposed to her, she agreed and we started preparation to wedding. These were good times as I saw her smiling again but not so carelessly as once before. I slightly noticed that she’s not engaged into our relationship so much. Because of that I wasn’t happy at this wedding as much as I wanted to be. However I believed in our common future. Soon after our wedding the NIGHTMARE began. As we were back from our very short honey moon she would get furious about smallest things. During this cold furies she demanded my total dedication to her, not visitting my relatives and threatened me with divorce. I tried to be assertive and communicate her my needs etc. but it didn’t help. A person with NPD is not capable of recognizing your autonomy and capacity.
These days I met closer my wife’s mother – one of the most repulsive and antisocial woman I’ve ever met. A devoted full-time 200%narc. I then understood why my wife is like that. She’s been submitted to constant nibbling, emotional neglect, lack of care and unjust critic during her entire lifetime. I feel a deep compassion for her although she doesn’t even know what it is. Her father is trapped in the codependent – narcissist circle for nearly 40 years ! I’ve never seen a family so deprived of love… They’re like withering plants deserted in a dark deep room.
Are you still married to her Gregor?
I wouldn’t say I’m a codependent but I am the type that helps people and I’m a problem solver so I think narcs think they can take advantage. At one point I felt I “needed” to be with a man and suffered because of it. I’ve met 2 narcs that I know of the first one lived with me for 3 years I didn’t know what a narc was then. After I researched I changed but still met another that only lasted 3 months I knew what he was a few months in but it took me a month or so to really make sure. I did end it. The key is to understand that you are a person and that nobody is entitled to treat u badly in any way. People who disrespect u do not care about u. Also you must understand that many have ulterior motives and it was never about love but about using. You have to be able to see true motives. A man is either about sex (good) or mind games (bad). I stopped needing men for anything but sex and fun here and there and that gives you control of your life, enjoyment and freedom. I am much happier living this way and I have power over what I do and was able to break the cycle. I have a life outside of being in the shadow of a man. Also I found that seeing multiple men or having affairs if one is in a relationship gives one power to realize there is life outside the abuser. You have to be careful to not get to involved in anything quickly and keep it light or you can get sucked in if you have not done this before. If you do this once or twice you won’t need to again because you’ll recognize right away. I only offer this as a beginning step.
Andrea, it sounds like you have taken back control of your life and it is working for you. I invite you to ask yourself if you believe an intimate monogomous relationship is still possible for you? Or perhaps, you no longer desire that. The good news is whatever you are doing now seems to be away for you to take back your power which is always a positive thing. You might enjoy my book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie or Love Smacked on Amazon. Sherry
I’m codependent. I have a severe trauma. It was result of 4 years of relationship with a narcissist (maybe psychopath). 7 months passed since it ended. Before I met him I was a successful executive, enthusiastic, social, driven, fun. Now, after breakup:
– hardly talk
– stopped work
– lost libido
– applying for social security benefits
– scared of everything
– think very low of myself
I can’t see a reason to live, to work, I don’t see my future, I don ‘t feel my body. I made him the reason and now I’m lost.
I also can’t wrap my mind around consistent array of things that were just sick. Some of it I allowed by not establishing boundaries, but most he withheld. E.g. Cheated with 18 y.o. got an STD, knew it (!) and didn’t tell me anything nor used protection to prevent passing it on.
You are in the right place. Keep listening to the modules. It will raise your vibration and in time you will be motivated again. I’m so glad you are here!!!!
Hi, so finally recognizing that I somehow prefer dysfunctional relationships got me asking the question why.
Why would anyone in there right mind be attracted to this kind of dynamic?
So I’m thankful to articles and publications such as yours that consistently say the same thing.
Although it’s reassuring and empowering, I’m stumped at what drives my own behaviour.
All my relationships that I considered significant were with addicts.
The last relationship, in recognising that she was an addict, I tried to immediately distance myself which only intensified her coming on to me.
I eventually softened up because of the guilt I felt for my apparent mistreatment of my partner.
When in fact it wasnt mistreatment, it was boundaries I set for her and she was having non of that.
Long story short the line in the sand eventually started blurring and before I knew it had completely disappeared.
It’s funny how you start thinking that unconditional love and acceptance is the magic key to end the dysfunction and start the healing.
And maybe it is. But I’ve come to realise NOT in the quantities I’m capable of.
For the first time in my life I was actually open to an open relationship and I was struggling with wether this is a negative change in my rigid value s or growth in that I’ve somehow overcome possessiveness.
I realise now that it’s the former because in the latter scenario I wouldn’t be groomed into accepting that lifestyle, it would be an autonomous decision.
It really makes me feel gullible to recognise how textbook my situation is, but at least I realise why I become blindsided.
It’s because the story I tell myself is that I’m to smart to be blindsided.
And in that I realised that I’m a narcissist too. For alot of reasons.
I’ve read that the roles are interchangeable although not consistently so.
I mention this because all your articles and contributions have made me realise an ugly truth about myself.
And that is that I’m equally victim, equally perpertrator and 100% responsible .
The blame game starts with me. So this is my thanks to all of you who shed light through your interest and dedication in this subject.
Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your thoughts. Sherry
brilliant article. Thank you Darlene. I am a narcissist and the last thing wanted was to hurt my ex but i DID hurt her (NEVER physically, i mean psychologically, by always threatening to end the relationship whenever we had a disagreement) and eventually SHE ended it – and I was in shock. it is amazing how we were a pitch perfect case study for the way you have described it. Thank you again. Knowledge is power to change and fix.
sorry Sherry – Darlene Lancer shared your article and I did not see that you authored it. My apologies and I redirect my thanks to you!
No worries. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Sherry
For me to escape the trap, it was the cheating. He says it wasn’t cheating, because we weren’t in a relationship. However, he got mad if I was with another guy. I found out he has been entertaining other girls since the day we met. To this day, he still lies about it, and I found out he has done this with all of his other exes. Sad, because I genuinely trusted him. This article brought back a lot of harsh feelings and memories but I’m ready for the healing to start.
Betrayal can be so painful but I have always believed in the idea rejection is protection. I am glad you are here. Sherry
This article is spot on….I blame my codependency on my “mother’s heart”. I desperately want a loving relationship with my daughter, and two precious grandsons. But, she is a text book narcissist and I am totally sucked in as the target. I keep going back in the viper’s nest, hoping she will see how much I love her and will do for her. A line was crossed last week, I have ended communication…of course, it’s my fault and I need to apologize. Lots of work needs to be done, starting with blocking her from my phone. Keep writing, you have a gift!
Thank you so much. It is so painful when someone we love is a narcissist. Boundaries are so important. I am glad my article was helpful. Sherry
I’m currently in a codependent and narcissist relationship and I struggle to escape because we had milo (dog) together and I can’t take him with me and can’t stand the pain of not seeing him again
Our puppies are so special Dianae so I truly do understand. Is there a way to set up a dog custody arrangement with the narcissist?