Narcissist and Codependent Relationship: The Survival Guide

Narcissist and Codependent Relationship Survival Guide

Narcissist and Codependent Relationship

Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by excessive self-love, emotional instability, and a need for attention. On the other hand, Codependency is a dynamic condition in which the individual has difficulty being independent while at the same time being excessively preoccupied with other people’s problems. Codependent people often feel unhappy or resentful because they spend too much time trying to meet the needs of their partners or friends while neglecting their own.

Are narcissists attracted to those with codependent personalities?

Can a narcissist be codependent? 

The answer to the first is easy enough to give. Yes, narcissists are naturally drawn to codependents as they want someone to worship them and serve their needs.

The second question is a bit of a surprise. This is not our general perception of the personalities of a narcissist and a codependent. 

Read on to learn more about codependency and narcissism. You will find here the arguments to prove both the theories described above right.

Let’s tackle the questions one-by-one.

Are narcissists attracted to codependents? Why? 

To make sense of the question and understand its various aspects, let’s start with the definitions of a narcissist and a codependent person.

Who is a narcissist?

A narcissist is someone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). They have an inflated sense of ego, self-worth, and superiority. They exhibit an exaggerated sense of self-importance and flamboyance and consider themselves above the rest of the world. They show low levels of empathy and have no regard for the emotions and feelings of others. 

Despite their grandiose exterior, they have a low self-image and confidence. This often leads to their inability to handle criticism well. They cover up their incompetence and weakness by lashing out.

Who is a codependent person?

A codependent person, on the other hand, is at the other end of the personality spectrum. They find it hard to focus on themselves or their needs. They are always searching for someone to take care of and prioritize over themselves. However, they expect this person to fulfill their emotional needs and boost their confidence and self-esteem. They find it difficult to take care of themselves or fight for themselves but are willing to do anything for others. 

Low self-esteem, lack of personal boundaries, and an insatiable urge to take care of others and please others are the most notable features of a codependent person. They are ready to sacrifice their happiness, convenience, or even their mental health to see others happy and content. Their need to feel wanted dominates their mind and feel worthless when they don’t have someone to take care of.

The profiles of a narcissist and a codependent person fit together in a relationship like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They are, literally, made-for-each-other kinds of personalities. While a narcissistic partner wants someone to massage their ego, wants to hold center stage, dominate the relationship, and wants someone to serve their needs, a codependent person is more than willing to fill in this role of a docile and subservient partner. 

You may also want to take a look at our Narcissism and Codependency Checklist.

Can a narcissist be a codependent person?

Usually, these two personalities are viewed as diametrically opposite but if we care to dig a bit deeper, we can see the commonalities in the two. Of course, we see their dissimilarities from their outward behavior. While a narcissist is dominating and an ego-maniac, a codependent person is submissive and low on self-esteem. 

If we look at the core behavioral traits of both personality types, we can find numerous common points. Denial, shame, dependency (hidden), need to control, lack of boundaries, and flawed communication skills, and reluctance to form intimate relationships are some of the defects found in both. 

Let’s look at the narcissism and codependency checklist in detail.

1. Denial:

Both deny their feelings and emotions in diverse ways for different reasons but deny they do. Both refuses to recognize or acknowledge their real emotions and project an image they want the world to see. Anger is just a front used by narcissists to cover up their sense of shame, guilt, fear, sadness, or any such perceived “weaknesses”.

2. Shame:

The inflated ego and self-image of a narcissist is often mistaken for self-love. The root cause of narcissism is shame. Often children growing up in dysfunctional families develop a sense of shame about their background. To hide their shortcomings, they turn to narcissistic behavior.

3. Dependency:

Often we take the literal meaning of this word. However, its real implication is slightly different. It means “lack of self”. Both narcissists and codependents have lost connection with their real selves. Narcissists tend to project a dominating image they want for themselves, while codependents exhibit a docile one to suit their purpose.

4. Need to control:

When narcissists are obvious about the way they want to control the people around them and their relationship, codependents do the same covertly, at times, without themselves realizing it. The people-pleasing, manipulation, and lies are control tactics used by codependents.

5. Lack of boundaries:

Hazy boundary lines are easy to see in both personality types. While one is aggressively violating it, the other is weakly submitting to the violations.

6. Broken communications:

Narcissists are known to dominate communication channels, while codependents willingly allow others to influence or control them. Verbal abuse is common for both. The way communication is broken down may be different but there is no doubt that it is broken. 

7. Hesitation to get intimate:

Narcissists fear intimacy as it can shatter their carefully created image. The combination of traits makes it difficult for a codependent person to have intimate relationships. Their entire focus is to find someone to satisfy their dependent tendencies and to take care of.

Even though a narcissist projects the image of a person who is independent and doesn’t need anyone in their lives, they want someone to dominate and serve them. Even as a narcissist displays the characteristics of someone with a codependent personality, the reverse is not true. This means, a narcissist can be codependent but a codependent cannot be a narcissist. 

How to stop being codependent with a narcissist?

Like a moth to a flame, codependents are attracted to narcissists. They satisfy each other’s wants perfectly. It doesn’t mean that this is a desirable scenario. It is anything but. 

If you are caught in the dragnet of a narcissist and want to escape, the best approach would be to change your core self and personality. It won’t be easy but definitely doable. 

Start with putting your needs before that of others. Learn to control your empathetic nature. Set healthy boundaries. Focus on your wishes and needs. None of them are easy to implement. But if you have the will and are ready to fight your battle, you have a good chance of winning this.

Concluding thoughts

In the battle of codependent vs narcissist, no one wins. In fact, both are losers though outwardly it will look as if the narcissist is the winner.

When these two personality types are in a codependent relationship or a marriage, it is bound to fail sooner rather than later. 

Therefore, it is important to know how to balance your relationship with your partner so that both parties can maintain a sense of well-being. You and your partner need to remember that the relationship does not exist solely for one person, and both parties need to put in the effort. You may also want to Download our free couples communication worksheets to get started!

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