Codependency And The Narcissist.

You may or may not have been independent before you met a narcissist; however, after being around one for a while with all their manipulation, you will often end up feeling as though you are dependent on them. This doesn’t, however, always make you a codependent.

There are lots of different dynamics to codependency and enabling behaviour. In some situations, people might be codependent, there are many perspectives on this, however within a narcissistic relationship, I believe many can then believe it’s because of their codependency, they ended up in this type of relationship, and this can lead to further victim-blaming and shaming, personally I find it a very dangerous, damaging and toxic term for survives of abuse.

Within the dynamics of a narcissistic relationship, behind many people led to believe they are codependent is often an emotional manipulator, who made them feel that way.

Signs of codependency.

Enabling people’s toxic behaviour.

The narcissist’s enablers are people who will help the narcissist achieve their aim. They will most often unwittingly defend the narcissist, support the narcissist, help the narcissist. An enabler is a person the narcissist recruits to their side. They might not always agree with or defend the narcissist, yet they put up with their behaviour or stick up for them and even bail them out. People usually unwittingly become enablers to the narcissist and often don’t typically have a malicious motive. They can genuinely think they are doing the right thing by the narcissist or that they are trying to keeping the peace, some can become enablers out of fear the narcissist has instilled into them if they don’t conform to the narcissist’s demands, so they have turned to the survival mechanism fawn, meaning they will go along with what the narcissist says, for fear of what would happen to them if they didn’t. Others often believe the narcissists lies and think they’re helping the narcissist when, in reality, they are enabling the narcissist to do their worst. Then we have the narcissistic family members who will do anything to protect their family, they either believe the narcissist to be innocent, or they are narcissistic themselves and running in a pack in order to protect the family name.

Doing all you can to stay in the relationship.

As a narcissist has often isolated you from anyone who genuinely cared for you, drained you of financial resources, intimidates you, placing that fear within you, offers false promises of change, giving you hope, creates feelings of guilt. Hence, you stay through obligation, narcissist shame you into feeling like you’re not enough, and say ”You’ll never find someone like me.” or ”You’re crazy.” then offers intermittent reinforcement, people often then end up believing that they are to blame and with the brain fog caused by a narcissist gaslighting, usually do work harder to stay in the relationship, even when people begin to wake the narcissist can manipulate them into submission.

With narcissistic parents, many children feel obligated to care for their parents, don’t want to walk out on the people who raised them, wish to help them, and live in hope their parents, will be proud of them for who they are.

Feeling responsible for others behaviour.

A narcissistic person will project, blame shift and gaslight to make you feel responsible for their behaviour.

Feel like you’re nothing without them.

A narcissist will devalue, intimidate, divide and conquer, cause arguments before you go out or when you return, they slowly take everything and everyone you loved away from you, so you no longer know who you are, sleep deprivation, anxiety. Narcissists make you feel needy and clingy.

Excessively emotional.

Long term emotional abuse, can cause brain damage, shrinking our hippocampus, so we not only feel like we are losing our memories due to the narcissists gaslighting, but also because it’s shrunk the part of our brain responsible for our memories. It can also grow our amygdala, which is responsible for our emotional responses such as fear and anxiety, when living in fear and stress, we are going to become hyper-vigilant, becoming extremely sensitive to our environment, often becoming more emotional in situations we might in other situations be able to step away from and look at the bigger picture.

Needing validation and reassurance.

When you’ve been continuously told things that did happen didn’t, things that didn’t happen did, that you imagine things, being belittled and shamed, living under constant gaslighting, fear of reactions if you don’t do, as they say, you’ll be looking for validation and reassurance as when you’re living in cognitive dissonance your realties and beliefs are no longer matching up.

Lack of boundaries.

Narcissists have many manipulative methods to take down peoples boundaries. When you fear saying no, you’re going to say yes in the hope nothing terrible will happen to you.

Need to avoid conflict.

A narcissists rage is one of the scariest things one can witness; no one wants conflict with a narcissist for the pain they can inflict in those around them when things don’t go the narcissists way when you live in fear, knowingly or not, you’re going to avoid the things you fear.

Feel like your controlling, so you avoid conflict.

Trying to keep yourself safe is not controlling. The narcissist is controlling. They create an atmosphere where people feel like they have no choice other than to walk on eggshells around the narcissist. The narcissist often causes induced compliance through the state of dissonance, where you do things that go against your beliefs to avoid negative reactions from the narcissist. To stay safe, unaware you’re far from safe.

Only feel valued when needed.

A narcissist will invalidate you any way they can, and with fear of reactions, if you don’t do, as they say, you work harder to please them to avoid those reactions, mostly from a subconscious level as your brains been trained slowly over time.

Concerned about others needs and feelings.

If we weren’t concerned for others feelings or needs, there would be more narcissistic people hurting others, as we’d lack the empathy to care for others, and many more would hurt others. We need to care for others so we don’t hurt others.

Imbalanced moods.

When you live in an environment set by a narcissist to cause instability, drama, chaos, fear, anger, resentment, stress, your moods, at the very least, are going to be a little all over the show.

Feel like your playing victim.

You’re not playing, and mostly due to the narcissists or enablers gaslighting of ”It wasn’t that bad.” ”You know what I’m like.” you often end up downplaying the narcissist’s behaviour. Many don’t even realise what was happening until they’re out of the situation, even then blame themselves or question if they are a narcissist. A narcissist’s emotional abuse is abuse, and there is no excuse. Narcissists play victim to escape the accountability of the things they do, so they’re not held responsible.

Difficulty making decisions.

A narcissist offers that double bind. They tell you to book a restaurant, when you do they accuse you of being too lazy to cook, if you question their contradicting words, they’ll say you imagine things if you don’t book you’re wrong when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it’s hard making decisions.

Difficulty communicating within the relationship.

A narcissists conversation manipulation, it’s difficult communicating with a narcissist, especially when you don’t know what you’re communicating with, blame-shifting, projection, word salad, gaslighting, the narcissist finds it difficult to communicate, why they manipulate instead. So at the very least, it’s difficult to communicate with a narcissist. Often it feels impossible.

Lacking in trust.

People are going to develop trust issues around those with lying issues.


It is an excessive psychological or emotional Dependence or reliance upon another person—someone who may feel like they need another for financial, emotional, mental, physical support. 

Personally speaking, I find the term codependency victim blaming and victim shaming. I often find that in many cases, a narcissist can show many signs of being codependent as they require outside sources of attention for support, they often exploit others to meet their own financial needs, often only giving if they can take from another, projecting their negativity onto those around them, often needed to jump from one relationship to the next, needing that external validation from others, requiring excessive attention, finding it difficult to communicate, pleasing others to get own needs met with false promises of the future, and lacking empathy to care for those they hurt.

Codependents who are not narcissist, Have often been shamed into having minimal self-esteem, so are often reliant on other people for validation that they are worthy; however, they do it in a way which is pleasing others so that other people feel worthy. They help others to feel better about themselves. Unfortunately they often end up in enabling the wrong people.

Yes, some people might be co-dependant before entering a narcissistic relationship and after, however many are not.

If more people pleased people, fewer people would hurt people, and fewer people would need to feel guilt for enforcing boundaries as the more people would respect them in the first place.

Behind codependents who are not a narcissist is often an emotional abuser, and behind that, the emotional abuser could have been another emotional abuser.

People often believe they’re codependent when most often it’s due to the trauma bond that people end up becoming codependent on a narcissist, 

Trauma bonding happens when ongoing cycles of abuse, Due to the narcissist reinforcement of the intermittent reward-punishment, Their admiration face when they treat you so well when they love bomb you when they idolise you and then their envious face when they shame you when they devalue when they invalidate you. Moving your emotions from excitement to fear, releasing chemicals such as dopamine when they treat you so well, cortisol when you’re living under stress. Trauma bonding keeps you in emotionally attached to the abuser.

As well as fear the trauma bond makes the pain in leaving feel worse and the pain in staying. Keeping people loyal to their abuser and Trapped within the cycle of abuse. When you feel powerless within a relationship in the hopes of changing them, when they continue to hurt you, lie to you, break promises on you, when you become overly careful not to set them off, walking on eggshells around them. You could be trauma bonded and not co-dependent. This is more powerful than love or co-dependency; this is weaning yourself off very powerful chemical drugs that the body has released to try and keep you safe, as often without realising you fawned to their ways because you were feeling very unsafe.

Trauma bonding isn’t your fault. An abuser sets the environment to exploit you. They subconsciously train your brain to get their needs met.

People also stay from the false hope a narcissist manipulates people into believing in who they are and who they claim themselves to be as they blame us for their wrongdoings and gaslight us into doubting our own reality and our own sanity. Most people can see the good in those and, through object consistency, still care for those when there is conflict or distance.

Just as In many cases, not all survivors are narcissistic. In many a case, not all narcissists are co-defendant and reliant on moving in with someone, exploiting peoples financial resources, fear of abandonment, often projecting their thoughts feelings and opinions into those who care for them, passing the blame over for their wrongdoings, gaslighting those who care about them for fear of abandonment, even though often once the narcissist has financially, and emotionally drained someone they up and leave moving straight on as they are dependant on others to fill their needs and covertly keep their shame, insecurities, vulnerabilities hidden from society.

Due to the manipulation, the financial abuse, the shame projected onto them, isolated from support, from hobbies, hopes and dreams, the target of the abuser them feels they have become codependent. However, often after breaking free, they survive on their own to build themselves back up. Their independence, whilst the narcissist keeps making people dependant on them to cover their co-dependency.

There is no wrong in relying on others to help you out. Still, when we know we can depend upon ourselves, we create boundaries, values and beliefs, so instead of helping those who seek to harm us, instead of going for support from those who seek to harm us, we find support in and support those who have mutual respect for us.

Codependency often happens within a Narc v narc relationship.

A codependent narcissist plays victim or hero, moves straight on, patterns of negative toxic behaviour, blames all others, accepts no responsibility, shames those around them.

Survivor of abuse blames themselves for everything, fears standing up for themselves, fears seeking justice, seeks help, support and understanding.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always attract what you are. When you’re kind, you can attract kind people. You can also attract people looking to exploit your kindness.

When you forgive, you can attract those who respect you; however, you can also attract those who will play on your forgiving nature.

When you’re giving, you can attract giving people. You can also attract people who just want to take from you.

When your honest, you can attract honest people. You can also attract liars as you believe them to be telling the truth.

When you’re caring, you can attract those with a lack of empathy, as you try hard to care for their needs while they slowly use your caring nature against you.

No, you don’t attract who you are. Sometimes you attract people who want to use you for the qualities you have.

So there is an element of dependency, but the positive aspects of trying to help.

What happens to you in a narcissistic relationship.

Trauma bonding.

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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.

Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.


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