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Are Narcissists Codependent

Are Narcissists Codependent?

This is the second of a two-part video in which Dr. Hawkins answers the question “Are narcissists codependent?” While some people think narcissists and codependents are opposites, there are many who believe that narcissists are in fact co-dependent because of their need for their narcissistic supply and subsequent insecurity.

Deep down inside they have an unhealthy dependence on others and fear of abandonment, qualities that also describe codependency. In the previous video, Dr. Hawkins talked about 3 traits that narcissists and co-dependents have in common, and in this video he talks about 3 more traits that both personalities share – insecurity, fear of abandonment, and an over reliance on others.

Are Narcissists Codependent?

In the realm of psychology, the terms “narcissist” and “codependent” often conjure distinct images of personalities on opposite ends of the spectrum. The narcissist is typically associated with grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and a sense of entitlement, while the codependent is characterized as a people-pleaser with low self-esteem. However, is it possible for these seemingly polar opposite personalities to exhibit overlapping traits? In this article, we will delve into this intriguing question and explore the possibility that narcissists may have traits of codependency.

Understanding Narcissism

Before we delve into the potential overlap between narcissism and codependency, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what narcissism entails. Narcissism is often identified by several defining traits, including:

  1. Lack of Empathy: Narcissists often struggle to empathize with the emotions and needs of others, prioritizing their own desires and interests.
  2. Inflated Sense of Self-esteem: They possess an excessively high opinion of themselves, believing they are superior to others in various ways.
  3. Sense of Entitlement: Narcissists frequently believe that they are entitled to special treatment and privileges, regardless of their actual accomplishments or merit.
  4. Dominance and Control: They tend to exert dominance in relationships, seeking control and power over others.
  5. Defensiveness: Narcissists are quick to become defensive when their self-esteem is threatened or criticized.
  6. Dismissiveness: They often dismiss the feelings and perspectives of others, considering them irrelevant or unimportant.

These traits paint a picture of individuals who are primarily self-centered and driven by a need for admiration and validation.

The Codependent Personality

On the other end of the personality spectrum lies the codependent individual. Codependents typically exhibit traits such as:

  1. People-Pleasing: They go to great lengths to please others, often at the expense of their own needs and desires.
  2. Lack of Healthy Self-Relationship: Codependents struggle to maintain a healthy sense of self and frequently defer to others’ opinions and desires.
  3. Difficulty in Self-Assertion: They find it challenging to assert themselves and express their own wants and needs.
  4. Low Self-Esteem: Codependents often suffer from low self-esteem, feeling unworthy or inadequate.
  5. Enmeshed Relationships: They tend to become deeply enmeshed in their relationships, losing their sense of individuality.

The Overlapping Traits

While narcissists and codependents may seem like entirely separate personality types, there are intriguing overlaps between the two. In addition to the previously mentioned traits, three more commonalities stand out:

  1. Insecurity: Beneath the veneer of bravado and grandiosity displayed by narcissists, a profound sense of insecurity often lurks. Narcissists, just like codependents, can be plagued by a lack of confidence in themselves. When a relationship begins to unravel, their insecurity becomes increasingly apparent.
  2. Abandonment Fears: Contrary to the belief that narcissists can effortlessly replace one source of narcissistic supply with another, they can also be paralyzed by abandonment fears. Instead of seeking out new sources of validation, they may desperately cling to their existing relationships, fearing rejection and abandonment.
  3. Over-Reliance on Others: Despite their outward appearance of self-sufficiency, narcissists often exhibit an over-reliance on others. They may need constant validation and attention from those around them, similar to the codependent’s need for a relationship to define their self-worth.

These shared characteristics hint at a complex interplay between narcissistic and codependent traits within the same individual.

The Distinction: Narcissist vs. Codependent

It’s crucial to emphasize that while narcissists may exhibit traits of codependency, they cannot be classified as codependent individuals. The distinction between the two remains clear:

  • Lack of Empathy: Codependents may struggle with asserting themselves, but they do not inherently lack empathy as narcissists do.
  • Inflated Self-Importance: Codependents do not possess the grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement associated with narcissists.
  • Need for Dominance: Unlike narcissists, codependents do not seek to dominate or control others; instead, they tend to be accommodating and people-pleasing.
  • Sense of Entitlement: Codependents do not harbor a sense of entitlement or demand special treatment.
  • Defensiveness and Dismissiveness: While codependents may have low self-esteem, they do not typically respond to criticism with the same level of defensiveness and dismissiveness as narcissists.

In summary, codependents and narcissists are distinct personality types, but there are areas of overlap where traits from each category can be found in the same individual.


The question of whether narcissists can be codependent is a nuanced one. While narcissists cannot be classified as codependents, they can exhibit traits of codependency, highlighting the complexity of human personality. Understanding these overlapping traits can be valuable in therapeutic settings, as it provides insight into the multifaceted nature of narcissistic individuals.

In the realm of mental health and relationships, it’s essential to recognize that individuals are not confined to rigid categories but instead exist on a spectrum of behaviors and traits. By acknowledging the potential for overlap between narcissistic and codependent traits, we can better understand and support those who grapple with these complex aspects of their personality.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.



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