8 thoughts on “What Draws Partners to a Dance of Codependency and Narcissism?

  • April 2, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    It’s a very interesting article and I found that it explained the reason I stayed in a relationship with a narcissist for many years.

    • April 4, 2016 at 10:27 am

      I know exactly where you’re coming from Crispie.
      23 years (half my life)

      My 16 year old daughter went down stairs to see what the dogs were barking at (I was asleep, sleeping pills of course to get through the night)

      To find her father on the couch with another woman. And all he said to me was
      “I’ve moved on with my life”

      It has been horrendous of course me the codependent. We have a business together 18 years And it has been 2 years this july and the struggle has been unbearable. All I ever read about is NO CONTACT. Well you can’t do that when you have a business with 8 staff etc.
      The stories I could tell. I would be here forever.
      And the most horrific thing of all I didn’t even know what a narcissist was or codependency
      I just thought I was crazy. And to read articles about it to be told that they don’t have the ability to love. To think 23 years of my life and he didn’t even love me. Devastated. He hasn’t even spoken to his daughter since the day we left the house. The fallout of such circumstances and my inability to cope with the situation has affected my whole family. My other 3 children tha he raised (their father died when they were 7, 6 and 3). I have 6 beautiful grandchildren that I barely see. Along with my other 3 children. My daughter with him still lives with me and we were so close. She can’t cope with it anymore. Seeing her mother deteriorating crying all the time etc. She just lives in her bedroom and stays away from me. I don’t blame her. I have totally isolated myself and work remotely from home but the toxic fallout is just incredibly unbelievable. I have started the process of closing down the business not even selling it coz I never want to see it again. But until this is done (which takes time) I cannot get this toxicity out of my life and my head. And the games he plays. The strength required. I am of course now the scapegoat and crazy boss It is a continual nightmare I am so looking forward to the end Even tho I will be penniless Won’t even have a car. I just don’t care. I just want him to get out of my life and my head. The pain is worse than when my first husband died. At least that was finality It’s got to the stage of I wish he was dead. The damage he has caused. And I take responsibility for my part At least the codependent can admit to having problems Sorry for rambling on for so long
      Finally, after this is over its off to therapy for me …. Just have to find someone who knows what they are doing because it’s not just normal therapy for a few issues. ❤️.
      Keep believing you can do it And keep breathing
      …. That’s all I do ….

  • April 4, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I grew up in an alcoholic home, my mother being the alcoholic. I am an only girl, middle child of five siblings. I was in relationships where my codependency came into being, not just intimate relationships but also with friends. I haven’t been in a long-term relationship for 14 years now, my only child from my that relationship is now 18. I am still attracted to men who fall into the area of narcissism to certain degrees. I have learnt a lot from my time alone from books, conversations and also Al-anon as my child’s father is a recovering addict/alcoholic, who cannot stay sober but had the decency to stay out of our lives during his relapses. I have chosen to stay single because of the work I have done and that part of me who still feels the need to take care of others. Instead, I have poured my energies into my son and my job as a teacher but still forget to take care of myself or should I say, I neglect myself. I continue to work through my own issues while I see my friends going through relationships like I have dealt with. Luckily I have the hindsight to see it for what it is and don’t interfere until they open up to me, made easy by the fact they know what I have been through. So through our own experiences and recognising the traits in ourselves and others, we can begin to work with ourselves, let go of our dance partners to create our own solo number, until we can heal ourselves. It’s our journey to travel and only we can do it…..

  • April 5, 2016 at 5:32 am

    I can totally relate to the dance style mentioned, as I am one of the partners doing the steps. Whilst I was already aware to some extent this article has helped by explaining it all in greater depth than I previously understood and has made it all the clearer to see how I play my part. Thank you, this is definitely the most helpful thing I have read so far.

  • April 10, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Can the roles exchange themselves? The narcissist becoming the codependent vice versa and back again?

    • April 10, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Great question, cuehip. The simple answer is “yes” — however it’s much more complex than that.

      First, to see what’s really happening in a couple relationship, we cannot ignore that the dance steps of codependency and narcissism are based on deeply ingrained and socialized gender roles for men and women, that keep both partners primarily focused on the “needs and wants” of the male partner — at least, this is what has social approval.

      (Also, please allow me to clarify that, when I refer to the dance between “codependency” and “narcissism,” in “most” cases, I’m talking about “tendencies” for codependency and narcissism. The extreme patterns that warrant official diagnosis for “narcissistic personality disorder” (NPD) are relatively rare. The dance ranges from mild to extreme.)

      Back to your question, the “switching” can occur when, at some point, the codependent partner gets “fed up” and decides to stop their role or “dance steps.” (Typically this does not happen where the narcissist has NPD.)

      As either extreme has a toxic effect on the relationship and partners,this never works…

      Instead, in terms of what the behaviors “look like,” what happens is that: whenever one partner turns “off” attention to keeping the relationship intact, the other turns it on. Predictably, at some point, that person decides to turn “off” (because it doesn’t work!), then the other turns on. And so on, back and forth.

      This tells both they’re in a toxic relationship. This is not only exhausting, it’s a futile waste of energy. Each person has to face the reality, or fear, that you cannot “fix” or “heal” the relationship, by focusing on “fixing” what THE OTHER does or doesn’t do or feel about you etc.

      This reality says that: You can only heal you. And that means, you can only control you in a relationship.

      The way to best understand this “switch” is that life and relationships follow physical laws and one of those laws is that our body’s automatically follow a directive to move us ever to “homeostasis” — that applies also to emotional balance.

      The other law that applies governs a pendulum. Thus, when both partners (the pendulum) gets stuck in one extreme position — it MUST swing first to the other extreme, before it rests oscillating in the middle or moderate range.

      All behavior patterns are governed by energy pockets, or emotion-command neural pathways. Just like two partners dancing a tango, or two actors in a scene with just the two of them, our brains “learn” and thus “know” both our “own” dance steps … and the others. It’s not unusual, for example, when one partner starts to “heal” themselves from angry outbursts … for the other partner to suddenly display one another’s automatic response sets (typically, NOT with same intensity, however…).

  • April 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve read a couple of articles here. They are good. I just think it’s sad that they are gender biast, making the woman out to be the constant victim while the man is always the narcissist. As a man I can assure you that female narcissists do exists, I’ve been in a relationship with several of them.

    • August 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      I am a man who has played the role of the codependent to a female narcissist. Yes, the article reads with a certain gender bias. I see what you are saying. However, I think the bias is nothing more than a reflection of a much higher statistical rate of male narcissism and female codependency. I consider myself fortunate that I am no so severely beat up in codependency as to be turned off by the perceived bias and move on to some other article. Many codependents are not as luck as you and I, and the majority of them are women, statistically speaking. I am glad the article is written as is because those women need the info as much (if not more) than we do. I hate to think that some of them could be turned off and miss out on valuable insights.


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