What It Means to Be Emotionally Dependent
Being emotionally dependent is all about looking to others to meet one’s emotional needs. Now, human beings are inherently social creatures. So, we all need relationships. There’s nothing wrong or unhealthy about that. Moreover, as children we’re necessarily dependent. We need bigger and more powerful folks to care for us and tend to our needs. But becoming a healthy adult is largely about learning how to take proper care of ourselves. And failing to acquire the skills necessary to do that is what so often leads to emotional dependency.
Emotionally dependent individuals tend to gravitate toward those who appear strong, confident, capable, etc. And these days, all too often that can mean gravitating toward someone possessing some degree and type of narcissism. On the front end of the relationship with such a person, things can seem wonderful. All your needs appear satisfied, especially your needs to feel safe, protected, valued, etc. But as time goes on, abuse and exploitation becomes increasingly inevitable. That’s because narcissists can’t really love, at least not in a healthy way. Even their love for themselves is pathological. Sadly, however, some of the behaviors they might display early on can seem a whole lot like love. And that’s what lures you in. (See also: Abuse Victims Mistake Interest for Regard.)
Emotional Dependence is NOT Codependency
You can find a lot of information these days about how and why narcissists and so-called “codependents” attract. But most of the time, when authors use the term “codependent,” they do so erroneously. The codependent label is often ascribed to emotionally dependent individuals. So why be nit-picky about such a small distinction in terms, you might ask? Well, for starters, codependency is a genuine phenonomenon. And it has certain definable characteristics, requiring specific understanding and intervention. Emotional dependency is something else. And NOBODY understands it better than a narcissist. Narcissists readily see self-serving opportnity with the emotionally dependent.
Different Narcissists, But the Same Trap
As I point out in Character Disturbance, like all disturbed characters, narcissists vary as to type and degree. That is, there are different kinds of narcissists, each possessing a somewhat different brand of pathology. And just how seriously disordered such folks are varies, too. Nonetheless, narcissists are always trouble in relationships.
Just how emotionally dependent folks get trapped has a lot to do with what kind of narcissist to whom they might be most easily drawn. The trap itself is always the same: someone appears to satisfy an unmet need or two. But just how the trap gets laid is a bit more complex.
Folks unsure of their worth may be inherently affirmation-needy. And any self-respecting narcissist is likely to appreciate this fact. So, an amorous narcissist, for example, might pour on the attention and adulation. In so doing, they effectively seduce. A grandiose narcissist, on the other hand, only has to brandish his or her sense of power and self-assurance. This is inherently attractive to the person lacking confidence.
Some Important Items
The second live broadcast of Character Matters will be Thursday October 7. It will be a YouTube live event. Look for a post on the event on the blog in the next week or so. And the time will be posted on my YouTube channel as well as in the article and on the Character Matters page.
Click on the link that follows to access the latest Character Matters podcast Relationship Deception – Pt 2.
4 thoughts on “Why Narcissists Attract the Emotionally Dependent”
Interesting the distinction between emotional dependence and codependence. As a codependent, my emotional dependence is also a part of codependence- for example, people – pleasing behavior. I don’t know, I am not a doctor but it seems to me my social anxiety, which is the fear of being judged negatively is also emotional dependence. So it seems to me that if you are codependent you are also emotionally dependent but not vice versa.
I would always look to others for my ok-ness and become a doormat, that is a painful way to live.
Narcs/sociopaths do their best to undermine your self-esteem/confidence/self-worth so you’re easier to control. The longer you endure this slow chipping away at you, it’s easy to lose big pieces of yourself. Especially confidence. I feel emotionally unstable around them. For good reason, it’s intentional on their part. If you’re off balance, unsure of yourself, overwhelmed, emotionally swamped, etc.. you look to them to make decisions. Control.
They look self-assured and powerful, but it’s not real power. I used to feel attracted to powerful people because I felt so powerless. It kept the cycle going because they sensed it and made sure to undermine me at every turn.
It depletes you and makes you even more susceptible to the next one!
Now I work on recognizing and owning my power in every situation.
Detachment. Will be a practice of a lifetime for me. Have PTSD and get triggered by certain types, especially when it’s a surprise, and I shut down. But with practice am learning not to get hooked in and taking care of my side of the street and leaving them to theirs. Have made a ton of progress, so I keep reminding my self how far I’ve come instead of focusing on whatever their doing, not doing, have done.
When I’m narc/sociopath free, I can feel my confidence growing, I take more risks on my behalf and have more energy. My life is more peaceful and prosperous.
They don’t last long now. As soon as I recognize them, I detach and get away.
I find it difficult to determine where the boundary lies between a narc and a controlling person. One of the distinctions I have noticed is that a controlling person who is not a narc will try to control another person, but not by lies and gaslighting, more like undermining the other persons confidence because they want to make all the decisions. For myself I could not be around either, both have in common that they undermine the confidence of the other person they are involved with.
I don’t quite buy the co-dependence label as we are all in a society quite co-dependent on others. It all boils on to healthy boundaries and what roles we play in a relationship.
We all have gifts and talents and we can come to rely on those within ourselves and others, the main thing is it has to be a healthy balance.
As far as I am concerned all controlling people outside of a specific role of care such as first responders, doctors etc,, may not have the time for niceties in a serious to critical situations and have to take control. Others not in this category, are charactered disordered and therefore will have narcissistic traits and tendencies at play. People who do not care to take you as a person into consideration are ones we must eliminate from our lives. Our gut usually is the great indicator but where I get caught up is when I don’t listen to this primal instinct instead of my heart.