Codependents and narcissists are attracted to each other like moths to a flame. It’s no accident that these two opposites are so frequently found together.
As with everything, it all comes down to energy. Both codependents and narcissists are looking externally for someone else to fill their empty spaces.
The stark difference between the two is that while codependents are over-givers, narcissists are over-takers. This means that the relationship dynamic will always become toxic.
Let’s explore why codependents attract narcissists like magnets.
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Why Do Codependents Attract Narcissists?
Who is the Codependent?
Codependents subconsciously seek validation and self-worth through being needed by others. This makes them over-givers, always putting everybody else’s needs before their own.
They will even go so far as to take on the negative energy of others because they’ve been programmed to feel as though other people’s “stuff” is their responsibility.
Who is the Narcissist?
Narcissists also seek validation from others but for a very different reason. They have such an unhealthily inflated sense of themselves that they need attention from others to continuously prop up this false delusion.
Their entitlement and expectation that others treat them as godlike beings, make them over-takers. They actively use and manipulate others and feel that it is their right to dump their disowned wounds onto others.
Codependent vs. Narcissist
People with codependency have a diminished sense of self and look outside of themselves for security, survival, love, and validation. Typically, this subconscious pattern stems from their upbringing.
They didn’t have the security of knowing that all of their needs (emotional and/ or physical) were going to always be met. Often they had to satisfy the needs of their caregivers first before having their own needs met. This made their survival very conditional on the moods and behaviours of their caregivers.
Codependents were not allowed to form healthy boundaries as a matter of survival.
Non-codependents have a much stronger sense of self and have less chance of falling prey to a manipulator or a narcissist. Since they are their own source of self-worth and validation, they don’t seek those things externally in other people. They usually experienced healthier and more supportive childhood environments, which helped them to naturally create healthy boundaries.
Narcissists target people who are used to handing their power over to external sources because they’re much easier to manipulate, use and abuse.
People with codependency issues and those lacking effective boundary function are vulnerable targets for narcissists.
Narcissists Intentionally Rip Open the Wounds
For a narcissist, the most efficient method to plug into someone and readily access their life force energy is to target them where it will hurt the most.
They will intentionally find the codependent’s deepest wounds, violently ripping them open. The narcissist aims to pry such heavy emotions and reactions out of them, because that is how they unwittingly hand huge amounts of power over.
This makes the narcissist feel exceptionally powerful, relevant and superior. Meanwhile, while they’re plugged into the codependent, they’re siphoning out their life force energy straight into their own inner void.
This provides them with temporary relief from the ever-present feelings of shame, disgust and self-loathing that are always floating just under the surface.
Narcissists are energey addicts, constantly seeking their next hit, which is why they often seem to gain satisfaction from causing others pain – because they genuinely do!
|READ: Narcissistic Supply (2 Types) →
How the Narcissist Locates the Wounds
In the beginning, when the narcissist first gets to know the codependent, they are actually studying them and collecting their data.
The aim of the idealisation (love-bombing) phase is to lure the codependent in and earn their trust extremely quickly. The narcissist mirrors back to them the exact person that they’re so desperately desiring.
Through the intense ‘soul mate’ effect, the codependent feels as though they’ve finally found the person they’ve been seeking their whole life. This has them effortlessly opening up to the narcissist and sharing their innermost secrets.
From the very onset, the narcissist was manipulating the codependent into handing over their precious information and resources without a clue.
Those with a healthy sense of self are not seeking another person to derive love, validation or security from. They know that getting to know someone properly is a lengthy process that cannot be rushed. So, they will not allow a narcissist to break down their boundaries by speeding things up, because they will sense that this person (the narcissist) is not moving at a healthy pace.
Codependents are the complete opposite.
Codependents want someone to step in and provide for them all of the things that they’ve been craving their whole lives.
They welcome the narcissist in with open arms, putting them on a pedestal as their saviour. The narcissist goes along with it, rubbing their hands together and promising them everything they’ve ever wanted. The narcissist knows that all they need to do is say the right words and they’ll have the codependent under their control.
Once the narcissist has successfully landed the codependent, they can let their mask slip a little and allow their abuse cycle to begin.
|READ: Full Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse →
The first subtle signs will include passive-aggressive behaviour and devaluations masked as ‘jokes.’ Over time, the narcissist works to chip away at the codependent’s self-worth and uses them as an emotional punching bag to dump all of their disowned wounding onto.
The codependent, who’s been pre-programmed to take on other people’s stuff, willingly loads themselves up with narcissist’s issues and even internalises many of them as their own.
All of the information the narcissist has collected about the codependent gets stored away to be used against them at a later date.
That’s how they are able to quickly and expertly rip open the codependent’s wounds and extract life force energy from them (via their heavy reactions). This also reinforces the narcissist’s fantasy of being a powerful and superior God.
As the codependent gets smaller and smaller from the abuse, the larger the narcissist becomes. This also reduces the ability of the codependent being able to abandon the narcissist, which is one of their biggest fears.
Ending the Codependent & Narcissist Cycle
Anyone who’s ever been caught up with a narcissist will tell you how well the narcissist manages to keep you in a fog. That fog makes it almost impossible to see outside of the narcissist’s fantasy or even recognise that you’re being abused.
Narcissistic abuse keeps the codependent in a state of anxiety, barely managing to deal with their day-to-day survival.
The most soul-crushing part of being with a narcissist is the trauma bond that gets created. This happens slowly over time so that the codependent has no idea it’s even happening. Most narcissistic abuse victims don’t even learn about trauma bonds until they’re out of the relationship.
Where the narcissist uses intermittent reinforcement to keeps their victim addicted and loyal to them. They punish their victim for behaviour they don’t like, then give ‘rewards’ for behaviour they deem acceptable.
The victim is kept in a perpetual state of anxiety, never knowing when they’ll next be punished or rewarded. Quite often they don’t even know what they’re being punished for.
The rewards always come randomly and may be as simple as the narcissist ending their silent treatment and treating them like a human being again. This keeps the narcissist in complete control over their victim’s emotional state, as they know they are the only one who can relieve their victim from anxiety.
The underlying program is that the codependent must go along with the narcissist’s delusional reality… or else.
As time goes on, the codependent unwittingly enters the narcissist’s fantasy and truly ends up believing it almost as much as the narcissist.
The only way to exist within the narcissist’s world is to enter their fantasy with them.
|READ: 7 Trauma Bond Stages →
Escaping the narcissist’s fantasy becomes more difficult the longer you’re in it. The codependent stands more of a chance if they’ve got supportive people around who can see through the narcissist’s charade. That’s if the codependent can talk openly and honestly with them, rather than covering for the narcissist, which is heartbreakingly common.
The main reason why narcissists aim to isolate their victims from their support system is because they know that others can quickly become the enemy of their fantasy.
For those who aren’t ready to see the truth, the toxic cycle will continue, whether with that particular narcissist, or other ones.
When the codependent is ready on a soul level, a catalyst will occur to help wake them up to the truth of the narcissist’s manipulations.
The next step in their journey is to pull their energy back and step into being their own source of security, survival, love, and validation. Healing their wounds, and no longer handing their power over to sources outside of themselves, is the path to freedom.
Healing from narcissistic abuse is a long journey, so give yourself all of the time, space and self-care you need.
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