Of the two extremes, codependents (unlike narcissists) are generally seen as the warm and fussy ones. Self sacrificing and eager to please, they are an absolute delight to be around if you are the kind of person who likes to freely take and accept all they have to give and there are many who do. Codependents get involved with a certain type because like a jigsaw puzzle they fit together nicely. One constantly gives, one constantly takes. A perfect dysfunctional meeting and matching of ideals. Of course this situation is normally doomed to failure and when the house comes crashing down, the codependent suffers more than most. The reason being they have invested heavily in the relationship and stand to lose much more in their view. This is usually because they have lost themselves in the relationship and identified themselves through their partner. The idea of splitting such intensity (not to mention material items and finances) is a thought so hideous that they do all they can to stay firmly rooted in the relationship even when it is blatantly obvious that the relationship is dead and the partner is the wrong one. The anticipated sense of loss mirrors their first unanswered call for love in childhood where the seeds of codependency were sown. It is much easier to hang on until the bitter end hoping things will change than face that particular issue.
Hope is a very relevant word here. Unfortunately not used in the best possible way. Codependents are always hopeful of using the self sacrificing skills that they have to bring about change in the most unwilling partner. They literally give their lives to do it by self absorbing themselves into their partner, often giving up any dreams they had themselves to keep “the one” happy. However, if we look at the darker side of this, we can see an element that is usually present in all codependent personalities…control. In order to keep their partner happy, they need them available and in a place easy to manage for the codependent. Here, it is easier for the codependent to exercise typical cyclical traits of sacrifice, counter dependency and victimhood…all designed to keep things in order. This often mirrors childhood experiences where love and control were present and confused in a dysfunctional parenting style. For codependents, control and sacrifice is love. With this “love” comes the expectation of return, that is …total devotion to the codependent. This is often what keeps them hooked onto the most unavailable of targets, the hope that they can manoeuvre their “object ” into place. I see the results of this every day in my work. As codependents normally attract the kind of people resistant to emotion and closeness and are also looking to control in their own way, disaster is usually on the cards.
It is amazing how blind to the truth codependents can be even after their partner is long gone. They often still feel they could have done more to help the relationship. Of course, generally we can always do more but it needs to be a two-way process.
As mentioned in earlier posts, the only way is to heal the damaged core wound, learning to set boundaries around people (and themselves) and trying to increase self-esteem. Only then will hope be directed in the right place.