Can You Be Codependent and a Narcissist?

Some people have asked me if it’s possible that they could be codependent and a narcissist.  Now, from a psychological standpoint, the answer is no, mainly because each disorder is at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

What can occur is that the codependent person (because of the nature of the relationship dynamics between the two) can get to a point where they think that they are overly selfish in asking the narcissist for their wants and needs.  They view their normal “wanting” as needy, insignificant, or not important.

can a codependent be narcissistThe Whipping Pole

At the same time, so many codependent people get so beat up at the narcissist’s “whipping pole” – at their projections – that they start to believe they are a selfish narcissist.

For example, a narcissist may use manipulation to gain control over the codependent person, such as gaslighting. If you’ve been with a narcissist, chances are you’ve experienced gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse where someone is manipulated into pretty much thinking they are crazy.  The whole conversation might start out with the codependent trying to speak their truth to the narcissist and by the end, the codependent is thinking the’re crazy for bringing it up, apologizing for even doing so.

I’ve experienced this when trying to stand up for myself in a relationship with someone.  Trying to speak a want or a need, maybe something like some quality time together, and by the end of the conversation I felt absolutely crazy, apologizing for having any needs.

Why Do They Think This Way?

If you’ve got some codependency traits going on, why would you come to think you’re a narcissist?  Because of the story you’ve got going on in your mind- that you’re selfish for having wants and needs. You can take that feeling of being selfish to the extreme, thinking that maybe you’re a narcissist.

But if you really think about this, a narcissist wouldn’t be apt to question this at all. You rarely ever find a narcissist sitting around thinking, “Am I a narcissist?”  Nah, they’re usually projecting and pointing the finger at others as to why they are having any problem.

But someone who’s codependent will ask such a question. They’ll sit around using up their emotional energy to wonder how they’ve caused others grief. They’ll be quick to blame themselves and they’ll be quick to think they haven’t done something good enough or have done things wrong.

This makes me think of a large reason why someone turns out codependent in the first place.  More than likely, raised in a home where there was either a narcissistic parent, emotionally abusive parent, addict/alcoholic, etc. The codependent person looked upon by the unhealthy, wounded parent to make them feel better. To “caretake” them and experience conditional love, (“I’ll love you if you do this.”), so they’d have a shot at feeling good enough, or worthy.

Like one of my good friends, who was raised by an alcoholic father and narcissistic mother. She picked up her codependent traits seeking approval from her parents, but in the process abandoned herself. And she spend a good part of her life “over-caring” and people pleasing trying to validate her worth by doing so – until she got on the codependency recovery path.

Conclusion

So, if you’re wondering if you’re a narcissist, chances are you’re not. Chances are you fall more into the codependency camp, but good news, dear one, is that you can learn how to overcome codependency.  In fact, you already are learning!

Dominica