At some point during your journey to understand why your life seems to be unraveling, you stumbled across an article on social media about Narcissism, or perhaps your therapist recommended a book on the topic. And there began your spiral down the rabbit hole towards discovering everything there is to know about Narcissism and Cluster B Personality Disorders.
And this is not a bad thing. Knowing what you are dealing with is very important to your recovery. But understanding narcissists is only a small portion of the real issue. Yes, narcissists are evil, lying, cruel, manipulative abusers. The real issues that you should be seeking answers for and solutions to is:
- Why are you in a relationship with a narcissist?
- Why did you ignore all of the red flags that should have alarmed you enough to end the relationship early on?
- Why are you afraid of enforcing boundaries? I know the answer to this. It’s because you know that if you enforce boundaries against the narcissist, the narcissist will leave you.
- Why are you afraid of being rejected/abandoned/discarded by a person who is evil, lying, cruel, manipulative and abusive towards you?
- Why do you have so much empathy for the narcissist and none for yourself?
Codependency is characterized by a reliance on other people for approval, to an unhealthy degree. Many codependents see themselves as rescuers. It is this combination of rescuer seeking approval that renders codependents targets for predatory narcissists. But it is also these characteristics in the codependent that causes codependents to target narcissists.
In this relationship made in Hell, the codependent is busy “rescuing” the narcissist from his (or her) self-induced crisis, and the narcissist is perpetually angry at the codependent’s failure to insulate him from the natural consequences of his actions, so that this couple is constantly at odds with one another. In this scenario, the codependent is avoiding his (or her) own issues by becoming martyred. There is never true harmony or trust in this relationship because of the volatility and inherent insecurity. The codependent walks on eggshells and voluntarily ignores their own needs and desires in vain attempts to anticipate and prevent the narcissist’s next eruption. This dynamic allows both parties to avoid the thing they fear most: emotional intimacy. There is no shared affection. There is only addiction to the push and pull.
Unfortunately, this relationship, due to its one-sided nature, “kills” the codependent, in that the codependent is set up for failure, by design. The codependent becomes depressed and beaten down, to the point where he or she must either finally stand up to the narcissist (thus, ending the relationship), or becomes so “lifeless” and unable to be a source of narcissistic supply to the narcissist, that the narcissist abruptly discards the codependent and replaces them with fresh supply. And this dynamic does not necessarily result in an end to the relationship. If the narcissist still sees some value (financial, status, etc.) in keeping you around, expect the narcissist to have a blatant affair(s).
Many narcissists enjoy having a beaten down, depleted codependent in their possession, because it feeds their ego to have someone so easily dominated at their ready disposal. If you get to this point in the relationship with the narcissist and you are not discarded, expect the abuse to escalate.
If this article sounds bleak and depressing so far, it’s because being the codependent in a relationship with a narcissist knows no other possible outcome. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist and you are hoping and expecting that this person will change if you just try harder, please stop. Narcissists are parasites who destroy their hosts. No amount of self-sacrifice will force the narcissist to love you.
But there is good news. Unlike the narcissist, who is incapable of changing/growing/improving or overcoming his (or her) disorder, there is hope for the codependent. But your situation is hopeless if you choose to stay and be devoured by the narcissist.
Get out. I know it’s not easy but get out as soon as you are able. Find a good therapist, find a good support group. Stop reading books about Narcissism and begin reading books on Codependency. Reconnect with old friends and family with whom you have become isolated.
Learn to love yourself and you will stop being attracted to love-less people.