Many codependents I work with are stuck in relationships that are abusive, unfulfilling and going nowhere. The sad thing is that they are also going nowhere and stay when they know they should logically leave. Somehow they cannot muster the courage to do it.

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We have to ask why sane, intelligent people cannot make a decision that would be of benefit to them and choose not to put themselves first. Most in these relationships are certainly emotionally and financially abused and sometimes physically and sexually abused as well. Who in their right mind would continue to endure such treatment from people who clearly don’t love them? Yet there are ample examples of people doing this everywhere. Amongst my previous and current client group are people who are torturing themselves trying to work out why they cannot get away from their narcissist partner and move on. It is not as simple as it might sound and I have often heard the phrase “I know what I must do logically but my emotional side is a different story”. Let’s look at some key factors here:

It is not wrong to listen to your logical side: With the above statement, one can really see the internal conflict that often develops when making a decision of this magnitude. The logical part of this thinking is often the basis for healthy thought amongst a whole group of thinking parts.

The emotional aspect has been with us since childhood: When we have been brought up in neglectful or dysfunctional circumstances, connection is something that we have never really experienced in a positive manner. We come into adulthood looking where we can to find it and mostly in the wrong place. This constant quest for connection usually drives codependents especially to stay with narcissist partners who know how to take advantage.

Codependents are attracted to emotionally distant partners for the reason above. When the quest for connection started at such a young age with emotionally distant parent(s), we continue that behaviour with adult partners. The emotional side (child-like), becomes attached and the pattern continues. This is one of the main reasons codependents stay in dysfunctional relationships with emotionally distant partners.

Codependency is not love, it is control: In the quest mentioned above, a considerable amount of control is attempted by the codependent. They attempt to control their “object” with tactics and a strategy to make themselves secure. This would include rage, victimhood, enabling, silent treatment and the drama triangle. This keeps them focused solely on their partner and what s/he is doing/not doing. They feel they can fix any issues which is often easier to maintain as a pattern than changing their situation which carries a lot of fear.

The Narcissist partner is a symptom not the cause: The behaviour patterns that started in childhood that lead to codependency also left open the door to meeting and being involved with a person ready to take advantage. Hideous people that they are, they are often not the cause of the issues but a symptom. Once the courage is found to leave or the narcissist disappears, it is then essential to reframe experiences had in childhood.

The inner child and the thinking parts are wounded: Dysfunctional childhood experiences mean that a core wound is developed and protection measures employed. This gradually turns into our paradigm and self-talk. It also banishes the ‘Self’ and any healthy messages that could counter the negative self-talk. Understanding and recognising self-talk and what it is trying to protect from is essential.

Promote the Self: The solution is inside all of us. We can change anything we want to if we can tap into our inner self. The Self is the part of us that carries logic, the ability to self-care, be interdependent and can take leadership of the thinking parts. the Self is calm and is the part of us that realises that staying in the present is essential. In self mode, we can make decisions based on logic and evidence not emotion and impulse.

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