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The Relationship between Narcissism and Codependency

I am a certified health coach specializing in recovery coaching, mindfulness coaching, and health coaching. I work with all attachments including substance, codependency, and food ...Read More

I have been seeing lots of posts on Facebook about people giving in to others who take advantage of them. Examples are loaning money that is not returned, doing favors for others that are not in the end, helpful, continuing toxic relationships because of guilt about being “cold hearted”.

There is a dance in codependency that involves the intimate relationship between codependents and narcissistic types. To better understand codependency let me share my favorite codependent joke.

Two codependents have sex. In the afterglow one says to the other, “well it was good for you, how was it for me”?

Codependents lack a healthy relationship with self. They are prone to put others first before their own needs. This is unhealthy.

Narcissists also have an unhealthy relationship with self. They put themselves above all else. They use others toward their own ends and exploit relationships without feelings of guilt or remorse. They push blame off on others and are unable to see their own part in wrong doing.

It is easy to see how codependents and narcissists get hooked up. It is like two pieces of the puzzle coming together. One is the easy mark for the other. But there is a deeper connection.

It is found that there are familial links to this interaction. If you have one parent who is narcissistic you are likely to become either codependent or narcissistic yourself. If you have two narcissistic parents the same holds true.

Once a person begins to recover from codependency, they are able to begin setting boundaries and standing up to the narcissist. It is very difficult for all humans to conceive of someone who is totally bereft of the ability to empathize and learn from previous mistakes. The primary mistake the codependent makes is to give the benefit of the doubt to the narcissistic partner because it is so hard to fathom someone could be so selfish and unyielding. Thus the dynamic begins.

The good news for the codependent is that there is hope for recovery once they fully understand that the narcissist lacks that ability of compassion, which defines us as humans. Since codependents are quick to blame themselves for problems they are able to work well with a therapist to make changes. Not so for the narcissist. They are stuck in their own world of non blame and hence are pathological unable to change. How can one change if they are unable to see that there is anything wrong with them?

I highly recommend Codependents Anonymous for those who are attempting to free themselves for relationships that are toxic and abusive. It is a program full of specific guidelines for recovery from this type of harmful relationship. Go to http://www.coda.org/ for a plethora of information on the topic.

As far as help for the narcissist…hmmmm, well the best thing is to shake the dust off your feet and steer clear so they don’t get a chance to use you. The only hope for the narcissist is that they develop addiction and can seek help for that where they might learn a different way to relate to the world. Alcoholics Anonymous is currently the best treatment modality for the narcissistic type…but chances for recovery are slim.

I welcome your comments…

Be well.

Keep Reading By Author Michele Happe, MA, Certified Health Coach
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