• Michelle Barsky

Why Narcissism and Codependency Tend to Attract Each Other


Relationships tend to work out well because of complementing factors each partner has. This is usually a good thing. Unfortunately, some negative habits also complement one another, like narcissism and traits of codependency.


A narcissist can be charming and fun when you first meet them. Someone codependent can seem attentive and caring. Together, the two can create a mutual need to be needed by a partner. If you’re interested in learning more about how narcissism and codependency attract each other in a relationship, keep reading.

What exactly is narcissism?

You’ve probably heard the term “narcissist” tossed around. But what exactly does it mean? There are several different signs that point to being a narcissist. While at some point in our lives, we might show signs of narcissism, the traits of a narcissist are prolonged and recurring. Common and recognizable signs of narcissism are:

  • Extreme arrogance and inflated self-importance

  • Lack of empathy

  • Need for admiration

  • Sense of entitlement

The two latter traits are important to understanding why codependency and narcissism attract one another. These traits of a narcissist are very easy for someone who is codependent to feed into and complement. Narcissists need validation and attention, and someone with codependent tendencies is all too ready to comply.


On a less extreme scale, narcissists are insecure people who worry that their partner doesn't care about them and is being dishonest, and use controlling behaviors to try to get the attention of their partner back.

What is codependency?

Codependent partners base their self-worth on how others feel about them, and so they will do anything to make their partners happy with them. In extreme cases, this means lyings about their personalities, their interests, and their past in order to have their partner like them.

Relying too heavily on a partner is rarely healthy and often has severe consequences. You can completely lose your sense of self in a relationship like this. Developing your self-confidence so that you can be rooted in yourself is key to rising above your codependent tendencies.

How do these traits appear in a relationship?

As we have detailed, the traits of narcissism and codependency complement one another in volatile ways. The push and pull in the codependent-narcissist relationship, where the narcissist doesn't trust and always needs validation, and the codependent partner always gives in but isn't completely honest, will leave both parties emotionally depleted.


At the root of a relationship like this, the problem is that both parties become lost and have difficulty keeping strong boundaries, being able to trust, and being able to validate themselves.

How do you deal with this?

Receiving the right treatment for both narcissism and codependency is the most effective path to treatment. Developing your self-awareness is a great way to start. Ultimately, examining how your past relationships (the ones that started in your childhood) have impacted you will lead to the kind of healing that is needed.


If you have a history of displaying narcissism or codependency in relationships, it does not mean your love life is doomed. I can help you to work through these concerns and start down the road to a happy, healthy love life. Give me a call today to get started.


For more information on trauma treatment, check out the link!