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The Narcissist and The Co-Dependent Dance Rituals

Picture it; practicing a speech or greeting in the mirror. You want your words and actions to be well recieved by your audience and for that to work you must know what your audience wants to hear and see. You may do some research, casual interviews, and even consult a professional to assist you in finding just the right words and expressions to ensure you capture your audience's attention and win them over. It is no different with Narcissists. In the era of selfies and social media the Narcissist population has exploded and has become THE most popular scapegoat for all of the heartbroken, oppressed, betrayed, and love-starved innocents of the world. If someone has broken your heart or has not lived up to your expectations, you label that person a Narcissist. It is time to take a look at your role in this dance, yes, you play a vital part in this union. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. 

May I have this dance?  The first step in the relationship with a Narcissist is the mirroring process. They study your words, emotions, and learn everything about you initially. As they draw you in with their charm, they are absorbing your persona and acquiring your tastes. This ensures a deep connection and an overwhelming sense of fairy tale love for you, the love you've dreamt of your whole life. The Narcissist will mirror you back to you in many ways which can include;

  • Stating they like the same music as you
  • Stating they have the same political beliefs as you
  • Stating they love the same charitable causes as you
  • Claiming to have had almost the exact same bad childhood as you
  • Stating that they have the same sleep schedule, same pet peeves, same food preferences, same. . . .everything
  • Professing their undying and Cosmic love for you immediately "You are MY soul mate!"
  • Claiming to have never loved anybody before you
  • Isolates you from friends and family "I want to spend every second with you and only you"
  • They tell you things you already know, and they know you know, so that you will feel like they deeply identify with you.
  • To truly hear the message here, please listen to the song 'LIar' by Henry Rollins.

"Let's get out of here, so we can be alone".  During the mirroring process the Narcissist is giving you what you have always wanted, telling you everything you want to hear, and may even shed some tears to show you vulnerability and sensitivity. You have wanted this type of connection, validation, attentiveness, and love your whole life. You are blinded by the absolute high from the chemicals your brain is releasing as you fall head over heels in love with this stranger that you now think you know better than you've ever known anybody before. You feel seen, heard, validated, respected, and the pedastol you have been put on is so high! This person is everything you have ever dreamed of in a partner. You don't question it, you don't question yourself, and you certainly don't notice what you are reflecting to the narcissist from the other side of the mirror. Just as the Narcissist projects all you need, you are projecting as well.

If you find yourself falling for narcissists over and over it is time to ask yourself why. One theory is that you are searching for someone just like Mom or Dad or another caretaker that raised you. With that theory there is the assumption that said caretaker was a narcissist or had an addiction; drugs, alcohol, gambling, or various other addictions. You may have been a parentified child, taking care of your caretaker and/or your siblings. You may have found yourself continuously seeking your caretaker's approval, validation,  and love although it never seemed to happen. You survived emotional, possible even physical and sexual trauma, and as an adult what you want the most is also what you fear the most. Love. There is a push-pull magnetism to your energy field, and in pull mode any little trigger can make you switch into a forceful push in the blink of an eye. You want the magical love of your dreams but you cannot allow anyone that close, you could get hurt again, and the sting of rejection is too much to take. This is where your own mirroring comes into play.

 The Mirroring theory explains this pattern and it certainly makes some valid points. This theory involves mirror neurons; basically what this means is that we mirror others in actions. beliefs, and how we present ourselves. When seeking a partner we seek someone like us, we are seeking someone like-minded, and this is where you will lose the title of victim because if you are finding yourself with narcissists over and over it is because you are seeking someone like yourself. Dare I point this out, YOU have narcissistic qualities and your mirror neurons are making you choose other versions of you. The Narcissist is emotionally unavailable; just like Dad or lack thereof, just like Mom, or just like you after a lifetime of heartache and being love-starved? You will receive superficial love with no depth or real intimacy and it will be less painful to tell the story of the Narcissist who hurt you rather than a true love that broke you to pieces.

Could it be that you are seeking emotionally unavailable people to keep yourself safe from a devastating level of rejection that you cannot bare to encounter? Do you have a need to be needed? Do you feel validated and important when you do a good job of taking care of somebody? Even if they never thank you or acknowledge all you do for them? Do you believe you are a 'fixer'? Will fixing others help you to essentially fix yourself? Did you know that humans reenact past traumas over and over until they resolve them? Do you have a big heart and just cannot tell anyone 'No'? If you answered yes to any of these questions, congrats!! You're a human being, with a heart, and a need for love and acceptance. You are not alone, we all want those things.

Let's take a deep, cleansing breath, ahhhhhh, that's better! Listen we all have levels of narcissism in our personalities, it's part of being a human being. Let me be perfectly clear, I am not attempting to generalize all emotional abuse victims into one category. Like many other issues and traits in the human race, there is a spectrum ranging from slightly effected to completely debilitated and most of us fall on that spectrum somewhere when we seek out a relationship. You're not crazy, you're not a masochist, you're not broken, you're not to blame for not knowing how you chose your partner or why, you just haven't stayed single long enough to find out who you are. You were duped by a clever predator! Now you are awake, hindsight is kicking your ass into gear and you learned something from the whole experience. But what?

Take Note of the Signs in the beginning of your relationship as well as signs exhibited once you've been captured by your narcissist who has morphed from the man of your dreams to a complete asshole in record time (or the woman of your dreams who is now an Evil Bitch). These signs include;

  • The Boomerang of Blame- nothing is their fault, EVER, it is your fault, ALWAYS. You will find yourself apologizing for getting upset... over and over and over....
  • They accuse you of being overly sensitive after doing something to cause you to have feelings of jealousy, sadness, anger, etc.
  • They never, and I mean NEVER EVER apologize or acknowledge their part in anything, they are ALWAYS the victim (all of their exes, former friends, ex-bosses, etc., screwed them over or were 'psychos')
  • They use the word 'WE' and "OURS" when referring to your money, belongings, memberships, vacation plans, computer, and hard work. You will feel like everything you own has been hijacked, and everything you do such as art, writing a book, household repairs, cleaning the house, etc., the Narcissist will take FULL credit for while secretly telling people how dumb you are, or how they have to do everything for you.
  • You forget who you are and what your goals were because EVERYTHING is ALL about the Narcissist and you lost you along the way.
  • You will find yourself explaining basic human empathy to this person with no results, he or she simply CANNOT put themselves in another person's shoes. It feels like banging your head against a wall, seriously!
  • The Narcissist is always better than you; overtalks you, butts in on your conversations to one up you, brags about knowing celebrities, brags about saving women from abusive men by kicking their ass, brags about being a superior golfer, basketball player, athlete. Will downplay your intelligence at every opportunity.

It's time to take that healing journey and break the pattern that has seemingly broken you. Learn your values, learn boundaries, take back your power, and make healthier choices. Learn to notice red flags in relationships, learn how to elegantly put distance between you and the next ill-fitting potential partner before you are blinded by his/her mask. Learn real self-care, not just bubble baths and pedicures. Believe it or not, bad relationships generate strengths and growth within us that which we never knew existed, there is a silver living. Everything happens for a reason, and all those other lame cliches. My point is that this is a pattern, a cycle, and you continue to run in that hamster wheel for your own reasons. It's time to figure yourself out and break the cycle and find your happiness. You ARE worth it, You DO deserve it, and it time to hang up your dancing shoes. . . for a little while.

Artwork by : Elizabeth M Choate, LMFT

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