Codependent vs. narcissist.
To better understand this thought process it is important to understand the traits and behavior of a codependent and a narcissist. While most of the needs may be the same for each personality, the behaviors are usually different.
If you look up the definition in Webster’s dictionary you will find that a codependent is someone who has an excessive emotional or mental dependency on their partner. This means that the core behaviors of a codependent are those that exhibit feelings of being responsible for other people’s problems, feelings, and even problems.
Causes of codependency.
In the beginning codependent behavior was typically used to describe the friends and family of an addict. As time has progressed it is now used to describe someone who has become codependent due to a dysfunctional family. To understand codependency, we must understand what a dysfunctional family looks like.
A dysfunctional family has a dynamic characterized by conflict, abuse, or negative behaviors. The issues that cause pain or shame in the dysfunctional family are not addressed. This leads to the members believing that they are the cause of the problem. As a result, the family members may become codependent and carry the trait into adulthood.
Most causes of codependency result from:
- Childhood neglect.
- Permissive parenting.
- Substance abuse.
- Overprotective parenting.
- Emotional and physical abuse.
Codependent traits and behaviors.
A codependent person will sacrifice every boundary to ensure that his or her partner is happy. This is why most codependent people are labeled as people-pleasers. A codependent person is often the enabler of the other person’s destructive behavior. This makes it easy for a narcissist to assume control of the relationship.
The traits and behaviors of a codependent person are broken down into five areas.
- Often feel unworthy and extremely critical of themselves.
- Cannot identify needs or wants.
- Unable to decide for themselves.
- Have difficulty admitting mistakes.
- Look to others for a sense of safety.
- Have a hard time meeting deadlines.
- Avoid vulnerable positions such as physical or emotional intimacy.
- Behave in a manner that brings rejection, anger, and shame to others.
- Judgmental of others’ actions.
- Choose indirect conversation to avoid conflict.
- Believe emotions are signs of weakness.
- Unable to express appreciation.
- Believe that others cannot care for themselves.
- Seeks approval through sex.
- Become angry when others disregard their advice.
- Expect their needs to be met by others.
- Do not compromise or negotiate.
- Falsely agree with others to get what they want.
- Loyal to the relationship no matter the cost.
- Take on the feelings of others.
- Compromises to keep from being rejected or making someone angry.
- Make decisions without regard for consequences.
- Give up their belief for the approval of others.
- Unable to express opinion or belief if they differ from others.
- Believe themselves to be unselfish and dedicated.
- Minimize how they feel about something or someone.
- Cannot identify their emotions.
- Label others with their negative traits.
- Mask their pain with humor or isolation.
- Lack of empathy for the needs/feelings of others.
A person who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder typically displays behavior of self-involvement. He or she feels entitled and puts himself or herself above others. Narcissists do not show compassion or empathy for anyone. This is a mental health issue that can cause problems in relationships between a narcissist and other people.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
There is no defined cause of NPD. It is thought to be a result of a combination of factors. Because of the complexity of the disorder, it is often difficult to understand and pinpoint the single factor that caused the disorder.
The factors that are believed to contribute to NPD are:
- Parental pampering.
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Childhood neglect or abuse.
- Hypersensitivity to noise or light in childhood.
Narcissist traits and behaviors.
A person with NPD will exhibit behaviors that portray strong self-confidence. But, the person has little confidence and has a hard time relating to others. Even though it seems that many people exhibit some selfish behavior, NPD is not that simple. It will disrupt many areas of life that will result in problems and issues with those around the narcissist.
The most common traits that are linked to NPD:
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance.
- Unreal perceptions of power, success, or intelligence.
- Belief in extreme specialness.
- Need for admiration.
- Constant worry about the appearance.
- Low empathy for others.
- Jealous of others.
- Believe others are jealous of them.
- Arrogance toward others.
- Take advantage of others.
- Blames others.
- Tries to avoid the rules.
- Humiliates others to be liked.
The codependent narcissist.
As you learn to identify the traits of a narcissist you find that there is an overlapping regarding codependency. These common traits are shame, denial, dependency, control, and inability to communicate. It is important to note that a person with NPD is typically codependent, a codependent person is not always narcissistic.
Codependency is a mental health issue that revolves around the loss of self. Most people with codependency have not been able to connect with their inner selves. All their thought processes and behaviors revolve around those around them.
The disconnection from self is also true for narcissists. The difference is that a narcissist will replace this with an unreal perception of themself. The codependent narcissist depends on others so that they can validate this perception.
It may seem as though the codependent narcissist is full of himself or herself. The reality is often that the person is carrying internal shame. This could be a result of a traumatic childhood event. As a result of that event, the child may have developed a thwarted sense of self. There are times that a child will use power and control to feel better than the shame he or she feels inside.
A codependent narcissist does not want anyone to see a need for anyone else. The codependent narcissist will deny feeling weak, afraid, or in need of a partner. Some do fall into the people-pleaser category, but they will often have an agenda. They may also use this to portray how superior they feel.
A codependent narcissist typically depends on others to validate his or her self-worth. By doing this he or she can feel more in control. Codependent narcissists do this by manipulation so they can receive the validation they crave. They also exhibit behaviors that will give them the ability to try to control their surroundings.
Inability to communicate.
Most codependent narcissists find it hard to communicate their feelings truthfully. They tend to be demanding and critical in the beliefs and opinions of others. There is a significant lack of respect for others which also results from the inability to communicate.
Relationships and the codependent narcissist.
When it comes to relationships a codependent narcissist can create a volatile family dynamic. It is important to understand all that comes with this mental health disorder to ensure a safe and healthy home. Narcissists find it challenging to maintain healthy boundaries and these are important for healthy relationships. Learning how to navigate this type of relationship takes patience and time.
If both people are codependent, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the proper boundaries. The issue ensues when the narcissist refuses to take inventory of their behavior and its effect on the relationship. There can be healthy relationships for a codependent narcissist, but it is best to have Christian counseling to help with navigating the relationship.
Are you or someone you love codependent? Do you feel as though you are in a relationship with a codependent narcissist? A Christian counselor in your area can help you understand the NPD traits and find a way to create healthier thought processes.
Reach out to your local Christian counselor to set an appointment and see how talk therapy can help you and or your loved one.
“Fly With Me”, Courtesy of Mohamed Nohassi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Rose”, Courtesy of Tirza van Dijk, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Freedom”, Courtesy of Fuu J, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Gesture”, Courtesy of Miguel Angel Hernandez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.