Codependents are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the possibility of receiving the same from their partner. When they dance, the Codependent fulfills the “dance role” by allowing their self to be led in any direction that their Narcissistic partner may lead. The Codependent pretends to enjoy the dance, but really feels anger, bitterness, sadness and loneliness for not taking an active role in the dancing experience. The Codependent is often pessimistic and doubtful that they are good enough to find a dance partner who will love them for who they are as opposed to what they can do for them. Their self-doubt and pessimism turns into a form of learned helplessness that keeps them dancing with their Narcissistic partner.
Naturally, the Narcissist is attracted to a significant other OR companion who matches up with his self-absorbed, selfish, and entitled dance style. They are naturally attracted to dancers who lack self-worth and have low self-esteem – Codependents. They intuitively know that they will be able to control their dance partner and, therefore, also be able to control the entire experience.
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All Codependents want balance in their relationships, but seem to consistently choose a partner who leads them to chaos and resentment. When given a chance to stop, dancing with their Narcissistic partner, or comfortably sit out the dance until someone healthy comes around, they typically choose to continue their dysfunctional dance. The Codependent dares not leave their Narcissistic (…) dance partner for they lack the self-esteem and sense of self-worth to sit the dance out. Being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful of a feeling to bear.
Without self-esteem or feelings of personal power, the Codependent does not know how to choose healthy and mutually giving partners. Their inability to be in a relationship with a balanced and healthy partner is usually related to an unconscious motivation to find a person who is familiar…someone who reminds them of their powerless childhood. Many codependents were children of parents who also danced the dysfunctional dance flawlessly. Their fear of being alone, compulsion to control and fix at any cost, and comfort in their role as the martyr who is endlessly loving, devoted, and patient, is often connected to the parent role they observed early on in their childhood.
No matter how often the Codependent tries to avoid “unhealthy” partners, they find themselves consistently on the dance floor mesmerized by different songs, but with the same partner. Through psychotherapy and, perhaps, a 12-step recovery program, the Codependent begins to recognize that their dream – to dance the grand dance of love, reciprocity and mutuality – is indeed possible. Through therapy and a change of lifestyle, they build self-esteem, personal power, and motivation to finally find dance partners who are willing and capable to share the lead, communicate their movements, and pursue a shared rhythm.
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Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC,CADC
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