One of the main reasons clients come to see me when they are seeking relationship assistance is as a result of having been, or are currently still involved in, a narcissistic/codependent dynamic. This relationship dynamic can be one of the hardest to recognize for the client and can cause them a great deal of undue suffering because they tend to blame themselves, are often confused by what is really going on, and feel embarrassed to even talk about it. I'd like to clear up some of the misconceptions about the narcissist/codependent dynamic to remove that shame once and for all and help teach you how to recover and get your life back.
HINT: it's not an easy journey but it's one that will likely change your life!
What is a narcissist? Someone who is self-absorbed, self-involved, agitates easily, lacks self-awareness, and has no interest in self-improvement. This individual almost always blames others for his/her mistakes, looks for the easy way out, and will step on anyone to get ahead. They are allergic to vulnerability and will very likely become explosive at the suggestion that they "open up." It is also possible that the narcissist will feign vulnerability as the narcissist tends to be super smart and has highly developed mirroring skills. In other words, he/she can appear as though his/she is sensitive and in touch with his/her feelings by displaying behavior that is consistent with those who genuinely express these things. This makes their nature much harder to detect so it is likely that you won't even notice the narcissism until it is too late.
What is a codependent? Someone who is an eternal optimist, is a glass half-full person, sees the good in others and in humanity, has integrity, is vulnerable, and believes in doing good for good's sake. The codependent also tends to be quite naive about the evils of the world and lacks firm boundaries. They are likely to get stepped on, looked over, and presumed to be weak. Codependents look to other people to know how to think, feel, and act.
Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to each other? Simply put - they can't help it! Like a moth to a flame, you can bet that the narcissist and the codependent will continue to attract each other over and over again because...opposites attract! On a biological level, our genes are coded to seek out genes that are more different from our own. This creates biodiversity in the gene pool which promotes survival over time. The drawback is that human emotional evolution has not developed to the point that this combination is healthy while in relationship...it only seems to serve from a procreation stand point.
How do I get out? How do I get better? Time and time again the answer will always be NO CONTACT!!! Whatever it takes and however long it takes start distancing yourself from the narcissist as soon as you are able. Contrary to what your heart is telling you, this situation will not going to get better and the narcissist is most likely not going to change (although he will do a very good job of trying to convince you otherwise). Start relying more on your friends and family and connect with a skilled therapist in your area. Most of all, go easy on yourself - this process will not be easy and you will likely relapse. Forgive yourself and create the distance again and again until he is a distant memory.
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Blue Sage Counseling and Wellness, and the information provided by Ashley Francis, is solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Ashley Francis is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health.