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.
(Prefer to watch/listen rather than read? See video here)I have to be honest. In all the years I’ve been researching, writing about, and producing videos on narcissistic abuse recovery and narcissism in toxic relationships, I’ve seen the amount of “experts” go from single digits to probably thousands. In fact, the topic has become an official “niche,” which means that people who teach others how to make money online are recommending it as an option for people who don’t know what topic they want to focus on.
And while this should be a good thing because it could raise awareness of narcissistic abuse, you would be shocked at how often I see my own content repeated and rewritten on sites that appear quite professional. Though I am certain that many of these new experts are actual survivors of narcissistic abuse who are doing what they do for good reasons, there’s one particular bunch I need to complain about for just a minute: all of these so-called coaches who think there’s only one way to go when it comes to dealing with narcissists in your life. They don’t consider any individual person’s situation, and they refuse to imagine any possibility in which it’s not possible to completely cut someone out of your life. And that’s because they just don’t get it – but they also don’t realize (or don’t care) how painfully invalidating this can be for victims and survivors of toxic relationships.
Because I’m here to tell you, it is not always possible, at least not immediately. And quite honestly, I have repeatedly found that people who have not experienced truly toxic relationships don’t really understand the depth of trauma bonding, not to mention the isolation factor and the financial abuse and control that comes along with them. And anyone who hasn’t been there really cannot understand the complicated nature of a narcissist’s manipulation and control tactics, which, in my opinion and experience, means they should not be coaching anyone on this topic and they shouldn’t be creating content that is meant for people who are dealing with it.
So, let’s talk about it. Here is what happened.
Today, after hearing from yet another survivor that a particular coach (with whom she paid for a session) berated and belittled her for not being able to just go no contact with her narcissistic partner, I felt like I was going to lose it. That coach and anyone else who are die-hard no contact pushers are doing survivors a disservice, and to be perfectly honest, I think these people just need to stop it, to put it politely.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The fact is that going no contact works remarkably well for healing after a toxic relationship. And of COURSE, I recommend it – we all know that no contact is the ideal solution to dealing with and healing from a toxic relationship with a narcissist. But the truth is that it isn’t always an option for everyone who has to deal with narcissists for a bunch of different reasons.
For example, maybe you have to live with a narcissistic parent for financial reasons, or you’re unwilling to go no contact with your entire extended family, and you know they won’t or can’t choose you over the toxic family member you’re dealing with. Or you’re working on leaving your narcissistic partner, but haven’t figured out all the logistics yet. There’s also a possibility that you’re dealing with a narcissist at work, and you are not in a position where you can change jobs so easily which means you will have to keep dealing with the narcissistic co-worker or worse, manager. Maybe the narcissist lives next door and you aren’t able to just sell your home and move right away – if at all. Or, and this is probably what I hear more than anything else, you might have to co-parent with a narcissistic ex.
Those are really tough situations as it is, and it frustrates me how often coaches and therapists will tell people in these situations they’re wrong for not going no contact because I get it from a personal perspective. The truth is that it took me a while to figure out how to leave my own ex for with a baby for both financial and logistical reasons. It makes me so angry because quite honestly, anyone who has to deal with a toxic narcissist is already dealing with enough self-doubt and invalidation on a daily basis. They just don’t need any added stress and they don’t need anyone else telling them they’re wrong for something they really can’t control.
So, please hear me on this one, my friend. The truth is, whether we like to admit it or not, there are some situations where it just plain is not an option – at least not immediately.
And while I’ll admit that it is very difficult, if not completely impossible, to fully heal while you’re still dealing with a narcissist on a daily basis, there are certain things you can do to make life a little less difficult while you’re there, and there are things you can do to begin to work toward healing in the process. Let me fill you in.
How to Deal with a Narcissist When No Contact is Not an Option
When you find yourself enmeshed in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, even though you realize your best option would be to leave or go no-contact, it isn’t always a real possibility in every situation. Sometimes, you just want things to go smoothly – you’re not in the mood for a narcissist’s usual games, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. And there are plenty of times when you’re certainly not feeling like fending off any narcissistic rage, or narcissistic injury.
Let’s talk about five ways to manage the narcissist even if you are unable to go no contact. And if you stick with me through the end, I’ll share one more – a little bonus for you. It’s my own personal secret technique that will help you manage any narcissist you can’t go no contact with. In fact, this technique will work on literally almost any difficult person you come across.
Respond To The Narcissist Without Reacting
You already know how much the narcissist enjoys controlling and manipulating you by triggering your emotions. And, I’m sure you’re well aware that they deliberately say hurtful or dishonest things to evoke emotional outbursts from you. And you might even know that they do this intentionally to make you feel crazy – and to make you look crazy to others – because they want to keep you isolated and under their control. But as frustrating and overwhelming as this can be, if you want to manage a narcissist’s abusive behavior, what you need to do is to be as cool as a cucumber – no matter how hurtful the narcissist is to you. This will be challenging because they will always do what they can to provoke you into blowing up. But if you give them logical, calm, and relatively cordial answers that lack emotion, they will get bored and eventually move on to a different tactic. You can also use the grey rock method, which is both proven and highly recommended. This is where you give really boring one-word answers without reacting and without emotion to push them away.
Keep Your Boundaries Firm
If you are unsure of how to create firm boundaries, then you must learn to do that first. To do that, take a few minutes and decide what is and what is not acceptable to you. Then, you’ll want to make it clear which behaviors you will tolerate and which ones you will not. For instance, if you are co-parenting and you don’t want the narcissistic ex to keep calling you every time your kid farts during their visit, then you make it firm that you will only want to communicate through email or a court-approved app, unless it’s an absolute emergency. And, take steps toward being independent of the narcissist’s help as much as possible – or at least do what you can to limit your dependency on any narcissist. The more independent you are, the less you will have to deal with them.
Make Sure You Have A Solid Support System
When you are unable to go no contact with a narcissist, you will be stressed enough as it is. Make sure you build yourself a solid support system of friends who will understand what you are going through. Now, I’m well-aware that many of us have very few people in real life who really get it, and that’s why I recommend that you get involved with a narcissistic abuse recovery support group. In addition to various local groups you can find at meetup.com, there are also many online support groups, including our top-rated and absolutely free QueenBeeing SPANily groups. In any case, you need access to people who really get it – and you want to make sure you are not all alone in this so that when something upsetting happens caused by the narcissist, you have someone to vent to who will listen and support you.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
This is difficult, but you’ve got to remember who you are dealing with here. You must remind yourself as difficult as it is having to deal with a narcissist that you cannot kick out of your life that they will not change. They are ridiculously limited, so recognize those limitations. See them for who they are, and use this awareness to help you see that you really aren’t the problem. The fact is that narcissists have so many shocking similarities among them, regardless of age, financial status, culture, religion, sex, or location, that it almost feels like there’s a narcissist playbook. Just remember, you don’t have to like it, but you do need to remember that they will not change and despite what they might pretend, they will always keep doing what they do. In other words, and I’m sorry to have to tell you this, never have hope that the narcissist will all of a sudden treat you with love and respect, because sadly they won’t.
You must take good care of yourself such as getting the sleep you need, get some exercise, eat healthily, and engage in your hobbies, your spiritual beliefs, and anything else that makes you happy. Never allow the narcissist to take that away from you. Never allow them to have that kind of power over you. Self-care is critical when you are dealing with a narcissist.
Are you still with me? Okay, this is where I’m going to share my own secret narcissist management technique with you. It is only two steps, and it is both ethical and repeatable.
Use This Technique to Manage Any Narcissist in Any Situation
You want to know how to make a narcissist be nice to you, right? Isn’t that what we all want? Well, I’m going to tell you how to do that right now, because sometimes, you just want first aid – a quick and simple way to make life easier for a while – to make the narcissist just BE NICE TO YOU.
PLEASE NOTE: This ONLY works if you ARE NOT IN ANY DANGER OF A PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE REACTION!
Step One: Do not reward “bad” behavior with the narcissist’s desired reaction. So: Your only response to negative behavior is “GRAY ROCK.” Now, you’re going to want to be super careful here and stay calm, even when the inevitable happens – because this can and may induce narcissistic rage, narcissistic injury, and extreme gaslighting. You may feel angry or upset -but DO NOT show it, no matter what. Stay positive and polite.
Step Two: Reward “good” behavior with what the narcissist needs from you: love, admiration, and his or her proper place on the pedestal. When the narc behaves him or herself, even if you recognize it as love bombing or idealization, bestow all the love and admiration you can on him/her — tell him/her how amazing and wonderful and perfect they are – and do it as sincerely if you can. AND: This can even work if you’re dealing with an ex in a co-parenting situation or a boss or co-worker – just adjust to make it appropriate for the situation.
Using this technique will cause the narcissist to indirectly realize that you’re not going to give them your emotional energy unless they are kind to you. Your emotional energy and focus on the narcissist is pure narcissistic supply – and they need that. So what will happen is that most of the time, if you stick it out, they’ll try to be at least polite if not go into the love-bombing mode. That means that you’ll essentially be training them to be nice to you by only giving them narcissistic supply when they treat you nicely.
Bottom line? Don’t expect miracles – narcissists don’t change, even if it is theoretically possible. So make sure you understand that this will be your new way of life if you do stick around forever.
Worth noting: You’ll have to be consistent if you want this to work. You can NEVER stop these practices if you hope to keep this thing going. The narc will absolutely and repeatedly try the various “bad” behaviors – aka manipulation and abuse tactics – and you will need to be very in control of your emotions to make this happen. BUT you CAN do it, if you choose to.
With all of that being said, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing that as difficult as things are right now, it won’t last forever. One day you will be able to go no contact, one way or another, should you choose that. Eventually, you will have a well-enough paying job that will allow you to leave home if you are dealing with a narcissistic parent or partner. Eventually, you will be able to find another opportunity for the right job if you are dealing with a narcissistic coworker or boss. And eventually, your kids will reach 18 which means you will no longer have to deal with the narcissistic ex.
Let’s dig into the psychology of what happens between a narcissist and a codependent in a toxic relationship. The typical toxic relationship involves trauma bonding. Learn why and how trauma bonding happens in a toxic relationship, plus the psychology of the narcissist as well as the psychology of the codependent during the relationship. And finally, we’ll touch on what it takes to heal after such a relationship.
Trauma bonding is a common condition among narcissistic abuse survivors and their abusers. Thanks to an ongoing cycle of intermittent reinforcement, many survivors of toxic relationships go through this, much like kidnapping victims and hostages do. Trauma bonding is often a bigger issue for people who also grew up in toxic and abusive homes, partially just because it feels like “normal” to them.
A narcissist, in general, is someone with a high opinion of him/herself, but when we’re talking about narcissistic abuse, we’re talking about the type of person who is toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive. They may or may not also be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. For the record, while it is not considered to be a “mental illness,” but a personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is complex, but a general definition is that it is a toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive. The term originates from Alcoholics Anonymous but fits toxic relationships surprisingly well.
How do you let go of the narcissist when you’re dealing with trauma bonding?
How can you make recovering from narcissistic abuse less painful?
I always say that when you “think like a scientist,” you can significantly reduce the pain – that’s how it worked for me! In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly what I mean, as well as how you can do it too!
What stage of narcissistic abuse recovery healing are you in?
Do you think you’re being abused by a narcissist in a toxic relationship? Have you dealt with narcissistic abuse in the past? Are you working on narcissistic abuse recovery? If so, you’ll want to know about these resources.