Are codependency, love addiction, and narcissism the same thing?
Narcissists, love addicts, and codependents share some central things in common:
they all need to be needed
they all struggle with feelings of not being good enough
they all have deep childhood wounds
Narcissists need to be adored and valued because they feel inferior. On the other end of the spectrum, codependents adore and value others in hopes that the object of their affection will give that same love and adoration back to them.
The general difference between people who are considered “codependent” versus who are considered “love addicts” is that even when a person has secured a loving relationship, it is not enough.
It is not enough that one person loves and adores a love addict, it is never enough.
“Love addicts” are on a quest to make everyone love them. They are trying to fill a deep emotional wound and, eventually, they discover it cannot be filled even with all of the love in the world because the one thing they lack is their own love and approval.
This is similar to the “charming” mask worn by narcissists. Narcissists are well aware that they “act” nice as a way of trying to make everyone like them. You see, narcissists are also seeking all the love and approval in the world. This is because they are growing in their own sea of negative emotions including insecurity and shame.
Some narcissists can actually recall when they purposely shut their feelings off because they felt too many negative emotions.
On the other end of this same spectrum, people with love addiction or codependency issues complain that they always hurt and cannot turn their feelings off. They feel EVERYTHING.
Codependent people are naturally pleasers and want to feel safe and protected. I suspect this is one of the central reasons these two opposite personality types find each other. Narcissists are naturally controllers. In other words, codependents and narcissists are opposite sides of the same coin.
When the codependent person is a passive woman and the narcissist is an aggressive male, we have the magic combination of potential domestic violence, though this same combination also applies to same sex couples.
It seems passive or codependent individuals are naturally attracted to the strong, aggressive narcissistic type. It’s natural for weaker or more passive people to want to feel protected.
And the smooth, debonair, sexy narcissists in their masks pretending to be cool and smooth attracts the codependent like a moth to the flame.
Narcissistic, aggressive types need to have power and control and the codependent, passive type need to feel like their partner is in control. This includes being in control of them. It brings the codependent a sense of secondary power to think that they are with someone who is powerful.
So, one way to consider this is that narcissists make up for their lack of self esteem by taking control and acting dominant and with their need for power and control comes a need for respect.
Codependents make up for their lack of self esteem by acting submissive. In this way, codependents and narcissists coming together are like two puzzle pieces fitting together.
If the narcissist and the codependent cannot grow and develop healthy boundaries together, the risk for physical violence and emotional abuse, etc will remain high.
Treatment and recovery are possible if both partners are willing to take off their masks and be vulnerable to each other. It takes honesty and vulnerability to achieve a truly fulfilling relationship for everyone involved.