Based on the nature of a codependent being a people pleaser, someone who will sacrifice their wellbeing in order to preserve a relationship and bases their self-esteem on the opinions of others, I believed that a codependent could only end up with a narcissist.
A narcissist in this context is someone who places their wants above the other person and ignores the opinions of others, especially if negative. It’s important to note that this person does not necessarily have narcissistic personality disorder.
The main similarity between the codependent and the narcissist is that they both want the relationship because they both lack self-love. The difference is that the codependent will sacrifice themselves to get love, while the narcissist will sacrifice the codependent to get love.
The two go together in a grand ol’ dance of dysfunction. You simply cannot have one without the other.
I spoke to a friend of mine the other day. She’s a salt of the earth type of girl who got badly burnt by a narcissist in her previous relationship.
She told me that she’s about to embark on another relationship and that this new girl is just like her in that she is always the person who cares more and gives more in a relationship.
Immediately I asked myself, “Can two codependents get together?”
But then I realized of course they can! So I tried to explain the dynamic she was about to sign up for.
Two codependents can get together because they both are trying to find love outside of themselves. But what will happen is that the person who is more selfish will become the narcissist in the relationship and the person who is more selfless will be the codependent.
At first, I expect the relationship to be great but someone is going to get restless.
Either the narcissist will take the codependent for granted (which leads to not contributing to the relationship at best or doing some extra-curriculars with someone else at worst) or the codependent will be angry because she is doing so much and the narcissist is barely doing anything.
The narcissist in this context is still a nice enough person and won’t cause a ruckus but they will still be selfish as they try to maintain the great deal they have going for them and will appease the codependent.
The codependent will then feels satiated, loved and will return to her normally scheduled programming. And by that I mean she will go back to her self-sacrificial bullcrap, not realizing that that is why she was so upset in the first place.
She gets upset once again because she feels she’s doing the most and that the narcissist isn’t pulling their weight.
The many stressors of life will compound these emotions and behaviors, and eventually they will separate.
In an alternate timeline, the narcissist could dump the codependent for someone new (or old). The narcissist in this dynamic could find someone who is more narcissistic than they are and be with them instead.
Now they can go back to their more comfortable programming of being a codependent as they return to earning love by sacrificing themselves.
Did I explain this to my friend as eloquently as this? No, but I expressed the heart of it which is that she needed time to improve her relationship with herself because her point of attraction probably hadn’t changed to something healthy yet.
Moreover, if you unconsciously believe that love is about someone giving and someone taking, you won’t be able to do anything about it because it’s an unconscious belief.
If you unconsciously think it is normal for a couple to have such an imbalance, you will see your relationship as typical. Doesn’t everybody have a bickering spouse or a selfish one? Isn’t your spouse overtly or covertly trying to coerce you into behaving the way they want you to? Don’t we all need love, sex, companionship, emotional support, financial support or some combination of these?
You could have ten relationships that all follow the same dynamic, but if the dynamic isn’t brought to your conscious awareness, nothing can be done to change it.
I tried to plant the seed in my friend’s mind. Will it bloom? I’m afraid it probably won’t but her relationship will be another lesson and something to grow from.
Emotional pain can be a great tool to revolutionize our lives to change in the way we want it to be.
It isn’t that we can’t get the relationships and the love we desire. It’s just that we look for it in the wrong places because we don’t know any better.
But by taking the time to be alone in order to process the past, seeing the commonalities in our romances and getting the help from those who can guide us, we can break our destructive cycles and be in something healthy.
And I can guarantee it won’t look or feel like what you would’ve expected it to, because when you change, the things you look at change too.