The Codependent & The Narcissist (An Unhappy Love Story)


Codependents can be attracted to narcissists like moths to šŸ”„. The reason is simple. Narcissist have something codependents lack – A sense of self!

But before I go further. I need to offer my definition of codependency

Me – “Codependency at its core is a wound of self betrayal. A person with Codependent patterns had to betray their authentic self in childhood to meet the needs of mom, dad & the family system.”

In other words: Codependency is a loss of THE AUTHENTIC SELF.

Codependency is also a survival strategy.

While codependents lack a sense of self, and morph into everyone else’s world, narcissists have ONLY a sense of self. Thus the attraction.

Turns out – it’s not a match made in heaven. The narcissist only cares about themself and the codependent doesn’t know who they are.

Unless both are doing personal work, this match will end in purgatory.


The patterns of codependency can be healed. It takes the codependent LEARNING WHO THEY ARE and then ACTING and SPEAKING this TRUTH.

What stops a codependent is TERROR.

The codependent is terrified that if they speak and act authentically they will be rejected or not loved or abused or neglected. These are the childhood fears living in an adult body.


The challenging thing about healing codependent patterns is SITTING WITH THE SENSATIONS.

When the codependents speak and act their truth – tremendously uncomfortable sensations arise in the body. These sensations can feel like life & death. (These are the built-up, SUPPRESSED emotions and sensations from childhood)

The healing of codependency is knowing one’s truth, then speaking & acting from this place – while sitting with the uncomfortable sensations that arise. (Eventually these sensations SUBSIDE, but it takes time, practice and REPETITION.)

Once a codependent patterned person discovers who they are and strengthens their sense of self, the unhealthy attractions to narcissist abates or leaves completely.

Allowing a healthier Love story to begin.


Please share comments, thoughts or questions below. Let’s create a conversation.

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Jack, this totally resonates. Most of my intimate relationships have been with narcissists, if not all, to varying degrees. That would make me codependent, at least until not that long ago. A question comes up for me – is this always the case? Does a codependent always attract a narcissist? I am thinking about my relationship with my daughter. We are in a good place now, but a few years ago that was not the case. It felt like we were BOTH codependent, or at least dependent on each other emotionally. She definitely had narcissistic tendencies, perhaps a remnant from being her father’s daughter, but she did not have a strong sense of self, or maybe self-worth. Perhaps our situation was complex, with a bit of both extremes inhabiting both of us. We were sharing a living space at the time, and when I moved out, things improved a lot. They had already improved greatly, from doing personal work, which then led me to move away and find my own autonomy.

Anyway, great article! Thanks for sharing it.


Brett Redden

thanks for sharing this insight. I agree that the over labeling of “narcissist” tends to occur. It makes me wonder how many people are just running these tendencies out of survival versus being true narcissists? I’ve been labeled as a narcissist, but also a codependent. so it makes sense to me that the healing of a codependent person means that the person who would be labeled as a narcissist can be healed as well. I dont speak of the pathological narcissist, just the trauma response ones. That of course means that they recognize that in themselves, sees the core wound, and desires to be healed.


I like how you frame this with the ā€œcodependent and the narcissistā€ vs the classic ā€œempath & the narcissistā€ attraction. This view actually makes more sense to me. People on the high sensitivity or empathic scale donā€™t necessarily lack a sense of self though that is often an outcome from not being honored and supported in their experience, yet codependency as you describe it here seems to be a deeper pattern of self-abandonment vs. a trait/gift that is difficult to wield in the world. Codependency can be healed or re-patterned and the toxic attraction released. Thanks for your thoughts on this.


How to inculcate identity of self???


This is brilliant Jack, thank you! The connection between the lack of sense of self, difficulty speaking up, and the feeling of somatic terror are so spot on. I have had this epiphany this past week and have taken aligned action and feel so liberated!

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