Do codependents and narcissists attract one another naturally?
While it may be a cliché in the movies, the good girl attracted to the bad boy theme is a very real part of the life experience of women across the country. In my practice as a therapist as well as in my role as a coach, I work with individuals with codependency who find themselves getting into relationships with narcissists over and over again.
This brings up the question, why do codependents attract narcissists?
In addiction research, the relationship between a codependent and a narcissist is sometimes known as a dance. In my work, there is a definite pattern of behavior where each party plays their role, thereby allowing the other party to play their role as well.
So, is there a definite answer to the question, “ why do codependents attract narcissists?” and what makes narcissists so attractive to codependents?
Both the codependent and the narcissist have a poor relationship with themselves as individuals. The codependent has learned to put others first and to minimize the needs of self. The narcissist is just the opposite; they place themselves above all others, with the sole goal of a relationship as one of the exploitations to get needs met.
In the codependent, the narcissist finds the ultimate giver, a person who gives to the extent of completely losing herself.
In the online article, All About Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a published study from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reported that 7.7% of males and just over half of that number, about 4.8% of females in the adult population would develop NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).
Is there a test that can corroborate,“ why do codependents attract narcissists?”
As with all disorders, there is no test for the condition, but rather the prevalence and appearance of specific behaviors and beliefs that must occur to be diagnosed with NPD.
A few of these issues include exaggerated self-importance, fantasies about their superiority, the need for constant admiration, feelings of entitlement and a lack of empathy towards others. They also tend to have significant false charm and charisma that they can use to their advantage to become the perfect partner for the codependent.
They mold into the needs of the codependent in the early stages of the relationship, only showing their real narcissistic personality once the relationship has formed.
At the same time, the codependent person lacks the ability to set boundaries, focuses on pleasing others, has very low self-esteem and takes responsibility for both other people’s problems as well as making excuses for their behavior.
By considering these as two partners in a dance, it is not surprising to see how they fit together. In my coaching with codependents, helping the individual to see why this attraction occurs is critical in the individual being able to break the cycle and engage in healthy relationships.
Learn a new dance
Working with codependents in my coaching and therapy practice is all about learning a different set of thought patterns and behaviors. To get out of the old destructive way of thinking and into something new, positive and helpful we focus on:
- Building self-esteem – addressing the issue of low self –esteem that is found in codependency is key in being comfortable with yourself
- And feeling satisfied as a whole person – without the need for a partner to complete the picture.
- Boundary setting – learning to say no and to set effective boundaries to protect yourself emotionally takes time, but it is a highly effective skill.
- Learning to be comfortable solo – developing areas of life to focus on outside of relationships is critical. This gives you time to change thinking and behaviors while eliminating negative coping mechanisms of the past.
Narcissism and codependency checklist
Codependent narcissist marriage is rife with troubles. Here’s a look at narcissists and codependents traits, to help you navigate codependency narcissism and childhood trauma.
- Narcissists put down their family and friends behind their back.
- Narcissists have a dual persona. A public persona is markedly different than the private persona.
- Narcissists are arrogant and conveniently blame others for their failures in life.
- Narcissists are inept at handling money matters. Unreliable.
- Codependents need a lot of help to overcome their setbacks and take a long time to cheer up after a disappointment.
- Codependents are inept at handling people who disrespect them
- Codependents seek their partner’s approval for everything.
- Codependents are obsessed with their relationship partners.
If you are someone who has suffered childhood trauma because of an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist parent, you can overcome codependency narcissism and childhood trauma by developing a new attitude, skills and behavioral changes. Do not hesitate from undergoing therapy for the same.
Codependency is a learned behavior, and it can be changed
Do codependents and narcissists attract one another naturally? The answer is in the affirmative.
This is not easy, but with coaching, therapy, and belief in yourself, it will happen. Once you get your answer to why do codependents attract narcissists, you can work on fostering happy relationships and avoid the pitfalls of such unhealthy relationship dynamics.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Sherry Gaba