Sadly, illnesses caused by low or absent levels of essential nutrients, minerals and vitamin are pervasive in the world in which we live. Such deficiencies more negatively impact children than adults, as a child’s future physiological and neurological health requires a steady stream of what their body and brains need most. Anemia, tooth decay and Rickets are just a few of the medical problems connected to childhood mineral and vitamin deficiency. To illustrate this dilemma, anemia, which is caused by an iron deficiency, impacts two billion people worldwide, while 70% of American children aren’t getting enough vitamin D (CNN 2015).
Vitamin L — Vitamin Love
An “emotional vitamin” is a metaphor for interpersonal and emotional “sustenance” that is given to children by their parents in order to promote healthy psychological and social development. The most important of all the metaphorical emotional vitamins is “vitamin L” or “vitamin love.” Just like actual vitamins, say C or D, vitamin love is critically important to a child’s developmental needs. Or, in other words, if parents or caretakers do not provide sufficient, consistent and predictable levels of emotional nurturing, mental health problems in adulthood will surely occur. There is no way around this stark but important fact.
On a global basis, vitamin L deficiency is as real and pervasive as other serious real vitamin deficiencies. As with complications from iron or a vitamin D deficiency, vitamin L deficiency manifests itself in adulthood when it is too late to correct the problem. Rickets, for example, if untreated in childhood, will result in permanent bone or skeletal malformation. Similarly, when vitamin L is lacking or absent in childhood, harmful psychological, social and even physiological consequences are likely to occur, some of which may be difficult to treat in adulthood. According to my book, “The Human Magnet Syndrome“ (2013), when unconditional love/nurturing is absent in infancy and early childhood, adult mental health and interpersonal disorders will probably occur, i.e., codependency and pathological narcissism (Rosenberg, 2013).
A glaring example of a vitamin L deficiency was observed in Romanian children who were raised in stark and emotionally depriving orphanages. According to numerous studies (Tottenham, 2013), many Romanian orphans suffered adult brain dysfunction and mental health disorders due to a lack of nurturing, attention and stimulation in the infant and toddler years. The dire consequences of such deprivation included neurological or brain dysfunction, a dramatic reduction in brain size and language, intellectual and cognitive impairment. In addition, higher incidents of conduct disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder were also demonstrated.
Erik Erikson Knew about Vitamin L Deficiency
Erik Erikson, a world renowned developmental psychologist and personality theorist, created a psychological and social (psychosocial) developmental theory that was based upon eight distinct developmental stages, each with two possible outcomes — success or failure. He theorized that if a child was to mature into a psychologically healthy adult, they would have to been cared for and emotionally nurtured in a manner that facilitated an active and passive completion of each stage.
Healthy parent-child attachment is absolutely essential for successful completion of the first five of Erikson’s stages. Without it, the child will remain frozen in a specific stage, which will deprive them of the skill development necessary to proceed with the following psychosocial stages. Erikson and the legions of followers of his theory maintain that children who are frozen within a stage are psychosocially underdeveloped in adulthood. In other words, these children will likely develop mental health and interpersonal problems in adulthood. Vitamin L is, therefore, the key developmental constituent that facilitates healthy childhood psychosocial development.
A little like the unfolding of a rose bud, each petal opens up at a certain time, in a certain order, which nature, through its genetics, has determined. If we interfere in the natural order of development by pulling a petal forward prematurely or out of order, we ruin the development of the entire flower. (G. Boeree, 2006)
Vitamin L Deficiency and Attachment Trauma
Vitamin L Deficiency Disorder is a metaphorical disorder caused by a lack of emotional, physical and environmental nurturing during critical developmental stages of childhood, especially during the first four years of life. Because of the fragile nature of an infant’s/child’s rapidly developing brain, any developmental disruption or harm to it will result in a lifelong template for pathological thoughts, feelings, behavior and/or a variety of mental health disorders.
There is no doubt that Vitamin L and parent-child attachment are intricately connected — both are necessary for adult mental and relational health.
“Attachment, the emotional bond formed between an infant and its primary caretaker, profoundly influences both the structure and function of the developing infant’s brain. Failed attachment, whether caused by abuse, neglect or emotional unavailability on the part of the caretaker, can negatively impact brain structure and function, causing developmental or relational trauma. Early-life trauma affects future self-esteem, social awareness, ability to learn and physical health (Trauma, Attachment, and Stress Disorders, 2015).”
Sustained neglect, deprivation or abuse of a child by a pathologically narcissistic caregiver detrimentally affects the parent-child attachment process. In other words, Vitamin L Deficiency Disorder or attachment trauma is caused by the lack of or impaired attachment between a child and his parents. Such trauma is often perpetrated unconsciously and reflexively by a pathologically narcissistic parent (Rosenberg, 2013). These parents are often oblivious to the harm they caused because of a lack of insight and empathy for others, especially for their children. Moreover, they often parent their child in the same manner in which they were raised by their own narcissistic parent. Just as Erik Erikson theorized, such trauma (developmental breakdown) sets the child up for adult mental health and relational problems.
Attachment trauma and vitamin L deficiency is difficult to identify in adulthood as it is the basis for adult personal and relational problems, not the actual problem. Because some forms of maltreatment or neglect do not always result in vitamin love deficiency or attachment trauma, it is necessary to consider the amorphous nature of the problem. Although neglect, deprivation and/or abuse sets the stage for attachment trauma, such maltreatment doesn’t always cause it. A child’s unique personality type, psychological strengths or weakness, level of resiliency and other biological and personality attributes will either deepen or mitigate (buffer) the effects of attachment trauma.
Only with an understanding of Vitamin L Deficiency Disorder can one proceed with the appropriate treatment of it. It is this author’s opinion that vitamin love deficiency can be successfully treated with trauma-based psychotherapy treatment strategies.
The following are 10 recommendations to solve or heal Vitamin L Deficiency:
Ten Steps to Reverse Vitamin L Deficiency
1. Seek psychotherapy that can address and resolve attachment trauma.
2. Seek help with your codependency or narcissism, which is a secondary effect of of the deeper attachment trauma wounds.
3. Create clear boundaries and expectations with those who seek to deprive you of vitamin L.
4. When possible, eliminate or pull back from relationships that do not have vitamin L reciprocity.
5. Create support systems when disengaging or setting boundaries with those who won’t give you vitamin L
6. Get daily doses of Vitamin L by surrounding yourself with loved ones who take part in empowering, affirming and personally connective relationships.
7. Seek healthy relationships where there is a fair distribution of love, respect and caring
8. Seek support and guidance though 12-Step groups, namely Codependency Anonymous (CODA) or Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).
9. Prepare for pathological levels of loneliness, a major withdrawal symptom of codependency (Rosenberg, 2015).
10. Stop the generational pattern of Vitamin L Deficiency Disorder. Love, respect and care for your child in a way that your parents did not do for you.
What is a Martyr Complex? 18 Signs Someone in Your Life Has One
It allows you to evade guilt and shame, bypass self-responsibility, and perhaps most importantly (and tragically), it allows you to dodge real life self-growth. Having a martyr complex essentially involves pointing the finger at other people or situations in your life and blaming them for your illnesses, disappointments, crushed dreams, and emotional turmoil.
So what is a Martyr? Do you have a Martyr in your life? And most importantly, do you tend to exhibit Martyrdom?
Firstly, What is a Martyr?
Traditionally a martyr is understood as a person who is willing to die for their country, religion or beliefs. These days, a martyr refers to a person who unnecessarily sacrifices themselves for others, while ignoring their own needs.
What is a Martyr COMPLEX?
What is a martyr complex? A martyr complex is a destructive pattern of behavior in which a person habitually seeks suffering or persecution as a way to feel “good” about themselves. We all have the capacity to be martyrs, but martyr complex sufferers adopt this as a daily role, often to the detriment of their relationships.
Having a martyr complex is a way of life as it taints every interaction a person has towards others and their role in the world. I say this because I have not only personally wrestled with a martyr complex in the past, but in the present, I also frequently speak with and mentor self-imposed martyrs.
Why Do People Develop Martyr Complexes?
Why do some people become self-imposed victims, and others become self-possessed champions? There are a number of potential reasons why, and all of them might help you to develop a more compassionate understanding of others and/or yourself:
Childhood experiences mold us significantly, and often martyr complexes develop out of adopting the twisted behavioral patterns and values of our parents. For example, if our mother/father were self-imposed victims who gave up all of their hopes and dreams for us, it is likely that we would adopt the values of being “selfless, sacrificial and kind.” As our parent’s and family members were like gods to us when we were little, we unconsciously adopt many of their traits.
Societal/cultural conditioning also contributes greatly to our tendency to develop certain complexes throughout life. For example, making a simple comparison of South American and North American tradition reveals a lot about differing cultural expectations. Latina women, for example, are traditionally expected to be motherly, nurturing, self-sacrificing homemakers. American women, on the other hand, are frequently encouraged to be active, successful, and even a little selfish, business women. Our cultural roots determine many of the thoughts and feelings we have about who we are, and who we “should” be.
Self-esteem and the subsequent development of our core beliefs is also a major contributor to developing a martyr complex. The worse we feel about ourselves, the more we tend to try covering this up by making believe that we are “kind, loving, compassionate and caring.” Being a self-imposed martyr also removes the need for us to take responsibility of our lives by scapegoating other people as the cause of our failures and disappointments.
The Martyr Complex Checklist
1. The person has a martyr as their hero, e.g. Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Jesus, or perhaps a parent or grandparent who abandoned all of their hopes and dreams in “service” of the family.
2. They were born into a culture/country/family that has very strict gender roles, religious creeds, or expectations.
3. They display signs of low self-esteem, e.g. inability to receive love or affection, negative body image, excessive judgmentalism, moodiness, etc.
4. They were abused as a child emotionally, psychologically or physically (e.g. by a parent, sibling, family member, church member, teacher, etc.).
5. They have stayed in an abusive relationship or friendship, even despite their ailing health and well-being.
6. They refuse to accept responsibility for the decisions and choices that have caused them pain or suffering.
7. They portray themselves as righteous, self-sacrificing, the “nice guy/girl,” the saint, the caretaker, or the hero.
8. They blame the selfishness and inhumanity of other people for their repression and oppression.
9. They seek to reassure themselves of their innocence and greatness.
10. They exaggerate their level of suffering, hardship and mistreatment.
11. They have a cynical, paranoid or even suspicious perception of other people’s intentions.
12. They have an obsessive need to be right.
13. They have a hard time saying “no” and setting personal boundaries.
14. They assume that other people can read their mind.
15. They emotionally manipulate or coerce people into doing what they want by portraying themselves as the noble sufferer.
16. They don’t take initiative to solve their problems or try to actively remedy them.
17. When the Martyr’s problems are solved, they find more “problems” to complain about.
18. They actively seek appreciation, recognition, and attention for their efforts by creating drama.
1. Jessica is in a relationship with Paul who is an alcoholic. Her friends have constantly advised her to leave the relationship for her health, but Jessica keeps insisting that she will “change” Paul and help him to be a better person – despite his reluctance to improve himself.
2. Antonio is constantly staying overtime at work without being asked to. When one of his colleagues is promoted to the position of regional assistant manager within the company, he guilt trips his boss by pointing out how “hard he works and how much he sacrifices” without getting anything in return.
3. Melissa is trying her best at university, and yet her mother is frequently asking her for help within the house. When Melissa explains that she “has a lot to do” because of her university study, her mother starts complaining how selfish and unthoughtful she is, and how she “has given up everything to get Melissa where she is.”
4. Jake and Flynn own a restaurant. When Jake suggests that Flynn “take a break,” Flynn responds by saying, “Without me, this place will fall apart. I have no choice but to stay here.”
5. Valentina and Rodrigo have been married for 20 years. When Rodrigo suggests that Valentina start painting again, Valentina says, “How can I? I have to continue taking care of my children; I have too much to do,” even though both of their children are self-sufficient teenagers.
Dealing with a Martyr Complex
We’ll explore how to deal with people in your life that have a martyr complex in a future article. To finish up, I just want to provide a few quick, basic pieces of advice for helping yourself if you struggle with a martyr complex.
Firstly be honest with yourself. Honesty requires the courage and desire to truly live an empowered life.
Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about ten years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.
Who Does Co-dependency Affect?
Co-dependency often affects a spouse, a parent, sibling, friend, or co-worker of a person afflicted with alcohol or drug dependence. Originally, co-dependent was a term used to describe partners in chemical dependency, persons living with, or in a relationship with an addicted person. Similar patterns have been seen in people in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals. Today, however, the term has broadened to describe any co-dependent person from any dysfunctional family.
What is a Dysfunctional Family and How Does it Lead to Co-dependency?
A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:
- An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling.
- The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
- The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness.
Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront them. As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves. They don’t talk. They don’t touch. They don’t confront. They don’t feel. They don’t trust. The identity and emotional development of the members of a dysfunctional family are often inhibited
Attention and energy focus on the family member who is ill or addicted. The co-dependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of a person who is sick. When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self.
How Do Co-dependent People Behave?
Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves.” Some try to feel better through alcohol, drugs or nicotine – and become addicted. Others may develop compulsive behaviors like workaholism, gambling, or indiscriminate sexual activity.
They have good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.
The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts allow the needy individual to continue on a destructive course and to become even more dependent on the unhealthy caretaking of the “benefactor.” As this reliance increases, the co-dependent develops a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.” When the caretaking becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels choiceless and helpless in the relationship, but is unable to break away from the cycle of behavior that causes it. Co-dependents view themselves as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in the love and friendship relationships.
Characteristics of Co-dependent People Are:
- An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
- A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
- A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
- A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
- An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
- An extreme need for approval and recognition
- A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
- A compelling need to control others
- Lack of trust in self and/or others
- Fear of being abandoned or alone
- Difficulty identifying feelings
- Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
- Problems with intimacy/boundaries
- Chronic anger
- Poor communications
- Difficulty making decisions
Questionnaire To Identify Signs Of Co-dependency
This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of co-dependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from co-dependency.
1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?
3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?
4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?
5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?
6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?
7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?
8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?
9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?
10. Have you ever felt inadequate?
11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?
12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?
13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?
14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?
15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?
16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?
17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?
18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
19. Do you have trouble asking for help?
20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?
If you identify with several of these symptoms; are dissatisfied with yourself or your relationships; you should consider seeking professional help. Arrange for a diagnostic evaluation with a licensed physician or psychologist experienced in treating co-dependency.
How is Co-dependency Treated?
Because co-dependency is usually rooted in a person’s childhood, treatment often involves exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavior patterns. Treatment includes education, experiential groups, and individual and group therapy through which co-dependents rediscover themselves and identify self-defeating behavior patterns. Treatment also focuses on helping patients getting in touch with feelings that have been buried during childhood and on reconstructing family dynamics. The goal is to allow them to experience their full range of feelings again.
When Co-dependency Hits Home
The first step in changing unhealthy behavior is to understand it. It is important for co-dependents and their family members to educate themselves about the course and cycle of addiction and how it extends into their relationships. Libraries, drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers and mental health centers often offer educational materials and programs to the public.
A lot of change and growth is necessary for the co-dependent and his or her family. Any caretaking behavior that allows or enables abuse to continue in the family needs to be recognized and stopped. The co-dependent must identify and embrace his or her feelings and needs. This may include learning to say “no,” to be loving yet tough, and learning to be self-reliant. People find freedom, love, and serenity in their recovery.
Hope lies in learning more. The more you understand co-dependency the better you can cope with its effects. Reaching out for information and assistance can help someone live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
How Does Narcissistic Parenting Affect Children? by Karyl McBride Ph.D. – https://wp.me/p4PKwE-Tk
Narcissists raise children who suffer from crippling self-doubt.
Why does it matter if a parent is a narcissist? How does that hurt a child? You may be asking these questions if you are a person co-parenting with a narcissistic ex; someone raised by a narcissistic parent; one who is in a relationship with a narcissist; or maybe a divorceprofessional working on a case that involves a narcissistic parent. Given my research and clinical experience, I want to provide some education and awareness about how this disorder hurts children.
First, let me explain that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is misunderstood when applied to someone who is just boastful, arrogant, and all about themselves. While these traits are annoying and not fun to be around, narcissism is a deeper, more destructive disorder that has devastating effects on the people in relationships with the individual. It’s a difficult disorder to treat; many believe it is untreatable. The cornerstones of the disorder are a lack of empathy and the inability to tune into the emotional world of others.
So how does narcissistic parenting affect children?
• The child won’t feel heard or seen.
• The child’s feelings and reality will not be acknowledged.
• The child will be treated like an accessory to the parent, rather than a person.
• The child will be more valued for what they do (usually for the parent) than for who they are as a person.
• The child will not learn to identify or trust their own feelings and will grow up with crippling self-doubt.
• The child will be taught that how they look is more important than how they feel.
• The child will feel used and manipulated.
• The child will be there for the parent, rather than the other way around, as it should be.
• The child’s emotional development will be stunted.
• The child will feel criticized and judged, rather than accepted and loved.
• The child will grow frustrated trying to seek love, approval, and attention to no avail.
The child will grow up feeling “not good enough.”
• The child will not have a role model for healthy emotional connections.
• The child will not learn appropriate boundaries for relationships.
• The child will not learn healthy self-care, but instead will be at risk of becoming co-dependent (taking care of others to the exclusion of taking care of self).
• The child will have difficulty with the necessary individuation from the parent as he or she grows older.
• The child will be taught to seek external validation versus internal validation.
• The child will get a mixed and crazy-making message of “do well to make me proud as an extension of the parent, but don’t do too well and outshine me.”
• The child, if outshining the parent, may experience jealousy from the parent.
• The child is not taught to give credit to self when deserved.
• The child will grow up believing he or she is unworthy and unlovable, because if my parent can’t love me, who will?
• The child is often shamed and humiliated by a narcissistic parent and will grow up with poor self-esteem.
• The child often will become either a high achiever or a self-saboteur, or both.
• The child will need trauma recovery and will have to re-parent themselves in adulthood.
Being raised by a narcissistic parent is emotionally and psychologically abusive and causes debilitating, long-lasting effects to children. It is often missed by professionals, because narcissists can be charming in their presentation, displaying an image of how they wish to be seen. Behind closed doors, the children feel the suffocation of self and struggle with loneliness and pain. The narcissist is not accountable for their own mistakes or behavior, so the child believes they are to blame and that they flunked childhood. Having worked as a mental health provider with thousands of children, as well as the adult children of narcissistic parents, I see the above symptoms again and again. The lifestyles differ, and the stories differ, but they all wave the same emotional banners. It’s quite a list. It takes serious recovery work to get better and feel better.
If you are the other parent, or part of the extended family, and are trying to ward off the effects of a narcissistic parent, you will have double duty as the responsible one. The best approach is to parent with empathy — the antithesis of narcissism. If you are a divorce professional working with a case that involves a narcissist, help the kids by first really understanding the dynamics of this disorder. Don’t minimize it. Make sure the children are in therapy and are learning assertiveness skills to use with a parent who does not emotionally tune into them. Put the kids first.
Note: Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, so think of it as a continuum ranging from low-level traits that we all have to some degree to a full-blown personality disorder. The higher the level of traits, the more damage gets done to children.
Life with a narcissist is a lot like living in a house of mirrors. Unreal reflections and projections meet you at every turn. At first you may feel dazzled, seduced by what the narcissist is showing you about yourself and him/her. But before long you feel trapped in a maze of grotesque distortions, with no apparent exit.
Mirroring, or reflecting back what others say and do, is a common behavior that many of us engage in, often unconsciously, to create rapport and show feelings of connectedness with others. We may, for example, adopt another person’s (or animal’s) energy level, facial expressions, body language, and tone to show understanding and empathy.
People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), on the other hand, take mirroring to extremes. Because early childhood circumstances prevent them from establishing a core sense of identity and self-worth, narcissists forever look to external…
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Sharing another informative article that can be found on narcissisticbehavior.net. It is long, but well worth the read. The original article and more can also be found at the link below.
What is “Gaslighting”?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.
“What Is Gaslighting?”
(RECOGNISE THE NARCISSIST’S COVERT METHODS OF CONTROL)
The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they…
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Understanding Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: 10 Tips for Avoiding It By Ross Rosenberg – https://wp.me/p4PKwE-P7
The Dance Between Codependents & Narcissists
The “codependency dance” requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist/addict).
Codependents — who are giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others — do not know how to emotionally disconnect or avoid romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic — individuals who are selfish, self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them. Codependents habitually find themselves on a “dance floor” attracted to partners who are a perfect counter-match to their uniquely passive, submissive and acquiescent dance style.
As natural followers in their relationship dance, codependents are passive and accommodating dance partners. So how can they stop being such natural followers?
Codependents find narcissistic dance partners deeply appealing. They are perpetually attracted to their charm, boldness, confidence and domineering personality.
When codependents and narcissists pair up, the dancing experience sizzles with excitement — at least in the beginning. After many “songs,” the enthralling and thrilling dance experience predictably transforms into drama, conflict, feelings of neglect and being trapped. Even with chaos and conflict, neither of the two spellbound dancers dares to end their partnership. Despite the tumultuous and conflict-laden nature of their relationship, neither of these two opposite, but dysfunctionally compatible, dance partners feel compelled to sit the dance out.
When a codependent and narcissist come together in their relationship, their dance unfolds flawlessly: The narcissistic partner maintains the lead and the codependent follows. Their roles seem natural to them because they have actually been practicing them their whole lives. The codependent reflexively gives up their power; since the narcissist thrives on control and power, the dance is perfectly coordinated. No one gets their toes stepped on.
Typically, codependents give of themselves much more than their partners give back to them. As generous — but bitter — dance partners, they seem to be stuck on the dance floor, always waiting for the next song, at which time they naively hope that their narcissistic partner will finally understand their needs.
Codependents confuse caretaking and sacrifice with loyalty and love. Although they are proud of their unwavering dedication to the person they love, they end up feeling unappreciated and used. Codependents yearn to be loved, but because of their choice of dance partner, find their dreams unrealized. With the heartbreak of unfulfilled dreams, codependents silently and bitterly swallow their unhappiness.
Codependents are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the possibility of ever receiving the same from their partner. They pretend to enjoy the dance, but really harbor feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness for not taking an active role in their dance experience. They are convinced that they will never find a dance partner who will love them for who they are, as opposed to what they can do for them. Their low self-esteem and pessimism manifests itself into a form of learned helplessness that ultimately keeps them on the dance floor with their narcissistic partner.
The narcissist dancer, like the codependent, is attracted to a partner who feels perfect to them: Someone who lets them lead the dance while making them feel powerful, competent and appreciated. In other words, the narcissist feels most comfortable with a dancing companion who matches up with their self-absorbed and boldly selfish dance style. Narcissist dancers are able to maintain the direction of the dance because they always find partners who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. With such a well-matched companion, they are able to control both the dancer and the dance.
Although all codependent dancers desire harmony and balance, they consistently sabotage themselves by choosing a partner to whom they are initially attracted, but will ultimately resent. When given a chance to stop dancing with their narcissistic partner and comfortably sit the dance out until someone healthy comes along, they typically choose to continue their dysfunctional dance. They dare not leave their narcissistic dance partner because their lack of self-esteem and self-respect makes them feel like they can do no better. Being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful to bear.
Without self-esteem or feelings of personal power, the codependent is incapable of choosing mutually giving and unconditionally loving partners. Their choice of a narcissistic dance partner is connected to their unconscious motivation to find a person who is familiar — someone who is reminiscent of their powerless and, perhaps, traumatic childhood. Sadly, codependents are most likely children of parents who also flawlessly danced the dysfunctional codependent/narcissistic dance. Their fear of being alone, their compulsion to control and fix at any cost, and their comfort in their role as the martyr who is endlessly loving, devoted, and patient, is an extension of their yearning to be loved, respected, and cared for as a child.
Although codependents dream of dancing with an unconditionally loving and affirming partner, they submit to their dysfunctional destiny. Until they decide to heal the psychological wounds that ultimately compel them to dance with their narcissistic dance partners, they will be destined to maintain the steady beat and rhythm of their dysfunctional dance.