Why are narcissists and codepdendents so often connected?
You hate to admit it, but you’ve been in relationships with narcissists before, maybe more often than you even realize. You might be a bit oversensitive – some people call you an empath – and maybe you have a pretty strong need to please others.
That explains why the narcissist might be attracted to you, right?
But then why are you attracted to them, especially when you know better?
There is actually a scientific reason why people with codependent personalities are drawn to narcissists – and why narcissists are equally drawn to codependents.
Are you a magnet for narcissists?
I used to think I was a magnet for narcissists. Then I learned about what kind of codependent people attract narcissists.
The mysterious force that causes you to keep ending up with a narcissist, despite the patterns you’ve realized, the mistakes you’ve made, and the lessons that you’ve learned, has been linked by researchers to John Bowlby’s attachment theory and your own attachment style.
So, the fact that narcissists and codependents find one another irresistible really isn’t all that mysterious. In fact, we’ve got the science to prove it.
How does attachment style make you so irresistable to narcissists (and vice versa)?
The attachment style you developed very early in life is responsible for a lot of your current behaviors.
Your particular attachment style leads to codependency, which attracts narcissists and leads you to compulsive caregiving and being a “fixer” who finds value in people-pleasing and taking care of the needs of others as you ignore your own.
No matter how much they care, no matter how much they need you and depend on you, these relationships are not healthy or happy on any level – the other person is simply selfish and reckless. And that’s putting it mildly.
This is exactly why your subconscious brain is wired to seek out validation, which makes you susceptible to becoming narcissistic supply. narcissists are drawn to you just as much as you’re drawn to them – and neither of you can really do anything about it.
Is there any way to make it work with a narcissist?
Bottom line: while it’s alluring to believe that you can be with a narcissist and still feel good about yourself, the reality is that when you involve yourself with a narcissist, you’re embarking on a one-way journey that leads to inevitable suffering.
The unfortunate truth is that you’ve got to go no contact and get healthy, eventually.
Otherwise, your relationships will always be unhealthy, your self-esteem will never fully recover, and no matter how close to perfect your relationship may seem superficially (in other words, it’s never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems), there will always be something amiss in the long run.
One final takeaway we would like to offer you is this: in your journey towards narcissistic abuse recovery, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, whether you have a friend or family member who can help, or you need help from others who may understand better.
For example, here at QueenBeeing Narcissitic Abuse Recovery Support, you might like to:
Narcissists do not want you to seek treatment – they will actually fight against it. But don’t let that stop you from moving forward. Seeking out help can bring along a long healthy life and peaceful relationships.
Have you ever been in a crowded space and still felt completely alone and separate from everyone else? Do you secretly wonder if you’re the only one who doesn’t know the joke? If you have, you’re not alone. Many narcissistic abuse survivors feel this way.
Have you ever felt disconnected from everyone and everything around you?
There’s a chance you’re dealing with “human disconnect,” a term coined by Dr. Judy Rosenberg, and it’s a bit more complex than it sounds.
As society progresses to the point that we are less and less able (or willing) to be “out there” in the world, doing normal, real-world things, the more isolated we become as individuals. and this is exactly why it so important to understand the definition of human disconnect.
We now order groceries at 3 a.m. and wake up the next morning to find them gently stacked on the front porch. We can have nearly anything we want hand-delivered and left at our door.
Since I recently had the privilege of discussing this with Dr. Judy herself, I was able to ask questions and get clarification on the meaning of “human disconnect,” and what it means in relation to narcissistic abuse. I’m sharing our conversation with Dr. Judy’s permission.
What is Human Disconnect?
Dr. Judy explained that “human disconnect” is a condition that is relatively common among humans, but it doesn’t affect only individual humans and no one else. In fact, it affects society, communities, and cultures.
“What (Human Disconnect) means is that it’s a disconnect from your own soul, self, community, and family.” Dr. Judy said, adding that, “it can mean a disconnect from your own ability to feel emotions as well as to truly connect in a healthy way with others.”
She explained that when we experience pain from abuse or neglect, it causes a disconnection from the person who is inflicting the pain.
In other words, you emotionally detach from that person – and in my experience, that makes a lot of sense. And, in so many cases, you emotionally detach from yourself somewhere along the way too.
Human Disconnect Leads to Global Disconnect
“The disconnect can take the form of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn – and it breaks trust,” Dr. Judy said. “This breaking of trust can then project on other people and communities and create more human disconnect.”
Of course, for each person who deals with human disconnect, a few more could be “broken down” and destroyed, left feeling alone, abandoned, and disconnected.
All of that, Dr, Judy told me, is the perfect storm to create Global Disconnect – which she says she’s working to help solve as part of her larger missions. It occurs to me that human disconnect is some kind of viral outbreak of loneliness and separateness. It can feel almost like it’s out of our control and we don’t have a choice.
What causes Human Disconnect?
Human disconnect starts with the original human disconnect, Dr. Judy told me, nodding when I asked if she was referring to attachment styles.
“Yes, think John Bowlby and attachment theory,” she said. “And then it becomes projected onto other people and relationships. All of this can lead to globally creating a global disconnect – we as a society are currently staring in the eyes at this right now. Bigtime.”
The original disconnect would be due to the development of attachment styles as early as birth. “When there is not healthy attachment,” Dr. Judy says, reminding me to consider Dr. Bowlby’s attachment theory.
What is attachment theory?
Attachment theory states that our relationships with our mothers can affect us and our lifelong development (and even our relationships with others) in profound ways. The theory first originated in 1958, when John Bowlby recognized the importance of a child’s relationship with their mother.
Bowlby found that our emotional, social, and cognitive development are all directly affected by our attachment to our mothers, which begins at birth and can be affected by her own attachment style, which would be affected by her mother’s, and so on.
He also noticed that children who were separated from their mothers experienced extreme distress, which he assumed led to anxiety related to the idea that their mothers fed and cared for them.
But Bowlby and his fellow researchers noticed something kind of unexpected: that the separation anxiety would not diminish even when the kids were fed and cared for by other caregivers. Even the youngest children seemed to still miss their mothers.
Bowlby was the first to propose that attachment could be an evolutionary thing – the child’s caregiver obviously is the person who provides safety, security, and food.
So, he reckoned, being attached to the mother would increase a baby’s chance of survival.
Toxicity Runs in the Family
In this video, I break down attachment theory and how it explains narcissists, codependents, and the reasons this sort of toxicity tends to “run in the family,” so to speak,.
When a narcissist is stressed about anything in his or her life, they take it out on their primary source of supply – and most likely, if you’re here, reading this article (or watching this video), you’re it, my friend.
You know what I mean, right? Where you’re finding yourself laying in bed, tears streaming silently backward down your cheeks and into your ears as the narcissist peacefully sleeps, whether it’s next to you or somewhere else.
Maybe you called the narcissist out on something important – or insignificant (like “hey, would you mind putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher when you’re done?”, to which s/he replies “Oh, you mean while I’m on my way out the door to go to work and make money with this family while you just sit on your ass and play with the kids all day?? I wish life was so simple for me, but you don’t care! You just don’t appreciate me. God, you used to be the coolest guy/girl I knew. You’ve changed. You’re just not the girl/guy I married. Man my life sucks. Poor me.”)
And we all know a narcissist doesn’t respond well to anything less than “omg you’re so amazing…”
So, because the narcissist is so good at reeling us in and works so hard at manipulating us to their advantage, we try at first to change ourselves and we begin to tolerate things we said we never would.
So we stop bitching. We try to be perfect. We work on gray rocking with a smile. Every now and then we still react and we always instantly regret it when we do.
And sometimes, the narcissist might let it slide. At least until you start to think you’re happy again – and that’s when he will gaslight you to the point that you become brainwashed, suicidal or otherwise miserable.
You lose your ability to care about anything else. You might neglect people and things that matter to you, all in order to avoid causing trouble with the narcissist.
You grow enmeshed with the narcissist to the level that you’re no longer even concerned about your own needs – you never use up the toothpaste or toilet paper without replacing it, and you’ll go without something you need (like glasses or medical stuff, maybe) just to give the narcissist something he or she just wants- and maybe at this point, it’s just become habit. The narcissist has taught you that you don’t deserve to come first, ever.
Worse, you kinda believe it.
The worst part of all is that the cycle continues as long as you allow it, and a part of you tries to convince yourself that you’re okay wirh it because it feels easier than “causing conflict” – for which you’ll always pay dearly.
The narcissist would be happy to keep you in perpetual suspension for his or her source of supply as long as you’ll take it.
And when a narcissist has had a bad day, she’s going to take it out in ways that healthy people would not. Like mentally and in some cases physically – and nearly always at the expense of some poor empath just trying to shine a little light in the world.
I’m not going to sugar coat here – the fact is that the narcissist does this because he or she needs to use you as their own personal emotional dumpster. Yeah I said it.
See the narcissist has an image to uphold “out there in the world” – but he also needs a way to release all his pent up crazy in private. And while a normal or healthy person might like start working out or journaling or meditating or whatever – a narcissist will need to go ahead and release all the poison and refill with supply. You know, like how a vampire will get hungry and need to suck the blood of someone in order to regain strength and vitality and in fact to stay alive.
So what do you do about it? Well, ideally, you go no contact. But that doesn’t always work in real life. Sometimes you’ve got to just suck it up and go gray rock. But if you’re still in it – living with the narcissist, for example, you ought to consider your options.
Upset your whole world for a few months, maybe, or take the chance that you will feel this way until the day you die – and spend every moment until then hating your life (or just not living). YOU decide.
Never stay for the “wolf you know.” Don’t allow yourself to believe the lies the narcissist tells you about yourself – start rewriting your own story.
Okay, it’s your turn: have you ever been in a situation like this before? How did you handle it? What advice would you offer a fellow survivor? And if you’re “still in it,” tell me what you’re going to do next – or what you’re struggling with today. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss it.