To this disenchanted generation, ‘I Love You’ are worn out words. They’re said too much but not enough. They mean different things in different contexts, but they always carry a special significance.
Sometimes, the words are said by people who don’t fully grasp their meaning, by those who are completely self-absorbed, people who cannot love anyone other than themselves.
We all have encountered such dangerously toxic people in our lives, whose definition of love is control and obsession instead of care and understanding. If you have been unfortunate enough to be loved by a narcissist, you will definitely relate to this letter written from the perspective of someone incapable of thinking beyond themselves.
“Dear Codependent Partner,
I will never say these words to you in reality because if I did it would reveal how I deliberately exploit the world for the only thing I care about – my benefit. Since I only care about myself, I need you to carry all the load of the relationship while I reap the benefits of it.
When I say I love you, I really do mean it though. I love how hard you work for me. I love that I have forced you to compromise about everything to keep me happy. I love that you do everything for me but you have given up expecting me to return that courtesy.
I love that I have the power to reduce you to tears, make you feel small and insignificant, and gloat in how powerful that makes me feel. I know you let me walk over you, and I keep pulling you down so that you don’t realize you deserve a lot better than what I give you.
I love how I can blame you for gas-lighting or just call you crazy when you bring up things I don’t want to discuss. Also, I love that I can keep expecting more and more from you while you keep lowering your expectations of me. It makes my life so easy when you let me walk all over you!
I love how I can take your innocence and kindness for granted, using it for my thrill and pleasure. I love how I can always keep all your focus on alleviating my pain and discomfort. Nothing ever is enough; I don’t feel loved enough, respected, admired and cared for enough. And all of this misery I dump on you to fix.
It is not that I don’t know that you need support, love and care; I just don’t think it is as important as my feelings. I am the priority for the both of us, and that is really all I want. It is never about the closeness, empathy or connection you want. It is never about how I hurt you. It is always about how I can control you and make you feel like you are not doing enough.
I am superior to you, and I love you as one loves a precious possession. You are just like all the other nice things I want to own and I love the envy others feel when they see you on my arm.
Since I am constantly hurting others, my brain suffers from self-loathing 24/7. This is why I love spending time with you. I love feeding off your emotional support, and I love hating you for needing you constantly. I love blaming you for my own narcissistic tendencies.
I love you because I am scared and tired of the self-loathing inside me. All the feelings I am too scared to have, the neediness, the emotions, everything I call you weak and crazy for, makes me love you because I feed off of you. I love you because I can treat you like a punching bag when that deep weak part of me threatens to open up. You keep all of it at bay and I take you for granted because I hate that I need you as much as I do.
Of course the day you realize all of this, you will leave me. So, I will never tell you, and I will always keep you hoping that I will become a better person, but in reality I never will. Only if you walk away from me, will my complacency ever get displaced. The day you stop caring, I will fall and I will learn my lesson. Yet I know that day will never come, because I keep you so tangled up in my concerns that you can never think about yours. And that is just perfect for me.
With my endless self-love,
Your Narcissist Other.”
This letter is of course fictional, and a true narcissist would never be this candid even to himself. But if you have had a toxic partner in your life, you will know how important this kind of honesty is to help you forgive yourself and move on.
Narcissists always need to be at the center of everybody’s attention. They boast, they brag, and they tell exaggerated stories so that they can be at the forefront of peoples’ minds.
What makes them worse, is that they’ve been working on their methods for years, which makes their lies harder to spot.
They often mix full-blown lies with truths and half-truths so that they can get away with things more easily.
Narcissists have no capacity for empathy, understanding, or validation, but they’ve worked hard in order to fake it.
If you’ve been around a narcissist before, you already know how infuriating it can be just to have a simple conversation; they couldn’t possibly care any less about what you’re saying.
Here are four things that a narcissist will always do to be the center of attention.
1. They Play the Blame Game
Narcissists will never miss an opportunity to make someone look worse than they are.
If a narcissist has the chance to make someone look bad, while elevating their own status in the process, they will always take it.
They constantly blame people for things that may not be their fault, and then when drama ensues, they’ll justify themselves by continuing to blame people for any issues that have occurred as a result.
2. They Reverse Roles
Narcissists are masters at conversation and manipulation; they understand just exactly how to twist a conversation around so that they look better in the eyes of people around them.
Not only will they be able to turn the conversation, but they’ll be able to manipulate you into taking responsibility for the sudden and abrupt turn of events.
Meanwhile, they look like the victim, and you’re left wondering what just happened.
3. They Play the Victim
Although narcissists don’t have the capacity for empathy or understanding, they don’t underestimate their power.
Usually, a narcissist will take underserved pity at the expense of another, who most likely deserves the pity in the first place.
This is a classic manipulation tactic that narcissists spend their lives working to perfection.
4. They Interrupt
Since a narcissist has to be at the center of attention, they will interrupt any conversation that doesn’t pertain to them directly.
Alternatively, if someone interrupts a narcissist in order to redirect the conversation, they will be rendered to silence as quickly as possible.
If this fails, the narcissist will perceive this person to be a threat to the most important thing in the world: themselves.
Anxiety Disorders Typically Caused by Exposure to Narcissistic Abuse
By admin –
Overt abuse techniques commonly used on preferred scapegoat targets by Cluster B people tend to cause physical health issues for victims of people who are socially aggressive, violent, and foster a complex atmosphere of Ambient Abuse in any social environment they have the opportunity to influence.
The most common targets for social abuse are highly sensitive and emotionally intelligent people who are by nature prone to behaving like humanists. People who are of lesser social means (meaning less socially powerful or influential) are also likely targets, too.
If you live in a home where abuse is prevalent, expect your health to decline and your self-conception to suffer. Being told all the time YOU are the problem for reacting to abuse in ways that are actually emotionally intelligent and PHYSICALLY appropriate tends to cause victim self-identity to suffer.
If you feel like you are unsure whether you over-react to abuse or you are justified in being upset when you are lied to, conned by a love fraud, are cheated on, are beaten or sexually assaulted, threatened with murder, etcetera… your mind and body are already experiencing symptoms of extreme C-PTSD.
Chances are you are likely to be developing a form of Stockholm Syndrome based on trauma bonding with your Abuser. When and if a trauma bond forms, the biology of the human form does a couple of things.
First of all — if you are healthy and sane, you will tend to trust your own eyes and ears as well as sanity. If you catch a partner cheating, for instance, but they blame YOU? Or an Enabler tries to convince you that your abuser loves you in their own way? Or they tell you that physical assault is for your own good?
Seriously — if you believe them you are already likely to be living with adrenal fatigue and heightened forms of pervasive social anxiety soon.
The following list of anxiety disorder types was compiled by the Mayo Clinic. The healthcare organization describes many of the most common conditions as follows
• Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
• Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
• Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
• Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.
• Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
• Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
• Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
• Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
• Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of abusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
• Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
Folks who actively abuse and enable other abusers love telling their abuse victims that they are somehow socially, emotionally, and intellectually deficient. They are huge fans of abusing the crap out of their target, then when caught or confronted about their behavior choices they love nothing more than playing the victim.
The more extreme the personality disorder the more likely social predators are to enjoy harming or humiliating and dominating other people.
Not only do they expect their willing Narcissistic Supply Sources to consistently play SUB-servant, they wholeheartedly expect and demand total obedience from any preferred scapegoat they like to claim ownership of and to toy with psychologically and emotionally on a regular basis.
People who get trapped* in the CYCLE OF NARCISSISTIC ABUSE tend to know something is not right with the claims the Cluster B person makes, but unless they are well educated about things like how to spot the warning signs of a Cluster B pack or egocentric Abuser, love fraud tactics, and are made aware of verbal abuse and mind control tactics, predators make incredible logical fallacy statements and appeals to emotion that sound — at least plausible — to an unaware listener.
If a target makes the mistake of reverse projecting and presumes that all human beings — INCLUDING CLUSTER B PEOPLE AND VERTICAL THINKERS — have the same core values as roughly 75-80% of the global human population, that is the instant chaos manufactures or pot stirrers have the ability to start mind assaulting trouble.
People who are exposed to physical abuse, sexual assault, verbal assaults of a poignant or pervasive nature, financial abuse, social persecution, and the word choices of dehumanizers seeking to sadistically or callously persecute tend to develop extreme social anxiety, pervasive stress related illnesses, and extreme confusion over knowing they are good folks in their heart and mind but hear constant ad hominem attacks against themselves by bullies and manipulators all the time.
If you are being harassed, bullied, messed with at work, are being picked on by family members who display Cluster B behaviors, an ex has done some crappy thing like tried to smear campaign, or worse…
Or you are feeling the literal weight of an angry and hostile narcissistic led faction world…
You are not alone in suspecting being around mean people can damage your health. Verbal assault can lead directly to neurological damage to the part of the brain that houses complex emotional reasoning centers and the body fatigues and organ function is medically depleted by the fear-induced surge of toxic adrenal chemicals.
Life-threatening illness tends to develop in humans who feel TRAPPED by an Abuser (unable to flee) or who are held hostage by toxic thinkers seeking to silence and oppress their scapegoats, targets, and control the fear-based psychology of their toys as well as any collateral damage victims.
[Abusers tend to rage at anyone who offers one of their preferred scapegoat targets humanitarian aid or social support. Doing so tends to produce the effect of socially isolating their targeted victim while humiliating and truly frightening them further when and if people passively choose to stay out of it or to enable, leaving the target even more vulnerable to further pervasive overt (as well as extreme covert) situational abuse. ]
The more healthcare workers start to realize if a patient presents with stress illness and psychiatric symptoms that the patient is more than likely showing physical signs of complex psychological and emotional duress more than likely being caused by ongoing exposure to Narcissistic Abuse or an Ambient Abuse promoting environment, the sooner human beings of neurotypical nature are likely to be able to end the healthcare crisis beginning to plague most modern nations.
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.
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.