Narcissists like thinking of themselves as highly independent, above others, and the standard bearers for The Way It Should Be. But simple observation clearly indicates how insecure and weak they really are on the inside.

Most narcissists are the consummate codependent, and worse, they are mean, too. Not a good combination. True to the definition of codependency, they define themselves based upon the emotions and behaviors of those in front of them. Having a poor conception of personal maturity, they are reactors, even though they would claim otherwise.

Narcissists are emotionally needy. We each have natural wants as we engage with others, but narcissists go beyond what is natural. They must have your affirmation, your blind loyalty, your concurrence, and your conformity. And when they do not receive what they crave from you, they become angry and punitive.

Notice how this pattern of mean codependence commonly plays out:

  • They presume that you are supposed to respond to them with two of their favorite words: “You’re right.”
  • They easily become argumentative as you are in the process of sifting out ideas or preferences.
  • Belittling others is common. They become readily critical and insulting in the presence of differences.
  • The narcissist will ask you loaded questions as they attempt to shame you into agreement.
  • They will hold grudges for a long time against those who do not acquiesce to them.

Can you see the codependence in each of these behaviors? Each of these behaviors is a manifestation of low self-esteem accompanied by a craving to be affirmed by others in an unhealthy manner.

Once you recognize their codependence, you can learn to read the accompanying, implied messages in their many reactions toward you.

For instance:

  • In their open, brash anger they imply: “If you don’t give me the affirmation I crave, I’ll force it out of you.”
  • When punitive, they indicate: “When you don’t give me my supply, I’ll make you regret it.”
  • As they criticize, they infer: “I’ll make sure to remind you of the many ways you don’t satisfy my yearnings.”
  • When they nurse feelings of contempt, they reveal their hurt: “I hate you for not giving me what I desperately crave.”
  • As they stonewall you, they passively send the message: “If you refuse to prop up my ego, I’ll pretend as if you don’t exist.”
  • When they displace the anger created by others, they imply: “Maybe I can’t punish others who have hurt me, but I can nurse my wounds by unloading it onto you.”
  • In their hyper-control they indicate: “My world is too unpredictable and scary to just leave matters to chance.”

Remember, DRC, when dealing with this mean codependent

True to the codependent nature, narcissists have little, if any, peace to draw upon. Despite their efforts to overpower you, they are indeed weak and desperate people. They are damaged all the way to the core of their being.

Understanding this, you can choose not to enter into the codependent pattern in reverse. It is pitiable that these individuals have such weak coping skills, but you’ll need to remind yourself that you cannot give them what can only be found within.

Your response to the mean, codependent narcissist can be summarized: “Here is our reality. Ultimately, each person is responsible for how we manage life. You’re responsible for you, just as I’m responsible for me. I’ll do my best to be a person of dignity, respect, and civility, but it is not desirable nor is it healthy for me to be your source of stability. You and you alone are responsible for your life’s trajectory.”

That’s what it means to be an independent person.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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