A relationship usually goes through 4 stages. First you have two single people, next is dating, followed by a committed couple, which is then proceeded by marriage. People and relationships can stall out at any stage or remain at one stage for long periods of time.

In a Narcissistic/Codependent relationship the dating process is sped up exponentially. It’s as if there is a race to the finish line. The need to enmesh two lives as quickly as possible is the preferred mode for both these types.

The reasons for which is that both parties feel vulnerable when alone. Both have an intense need to be loved and accepted, both fear rejection and abandonment vehemently. For these reasons, neither spends the appropriate amount of time getting to know each other. For a Narcissist, the nuances of their partner don’t really matter. They are seeking that one person to make them feel special and who can satisfy the beast inside.

For a Codependent, they glide over obvious issues, because, in their minds, they believe that they can fix what’s broken in their partners, so whatever, or whoever is there now – doesn’t really matter, when they are done fixing them they will be a totally different person.

Both engage in magical type thinking, where the belief is that they can fill themselves up and heal the void within by something or someone outside of themselves. Coming from the backgrounds that they do, they have no real model for what a healthy relationship looks like, so they miss or ignore obvious flags along the way.

Boundaries are very fuzzy or non-existent for both, which often means that the status and state of the relationship can be ambiguous and one may never know where they stand. There seems to be a very quick enmeshment of each other’s lives – without the commensurate amount of time to get to know each other, see if you’re compatible, have the same values and morals, ect. This doesn’t preclude the fact that a narcissist will hide their true self – what’s relevant here is the speed at which the enmeshment occurs.

A Codependent is prone to reveal too much, early on, due to weak boundaries and out of a need to bond with their love interest and develop a strong connection. Narcissists pay attention early on. The can be laser focused if their interest is high. They want to absorb what you’re saying so that they can mirror the image back to their love interest. They are masters at hiding their true selves, but they talk endlessly about the persona they’ve created to impress. Their true selves are wrapped tightly in shame and anxiety, because they fear rejection and abandonment, they will never reveal that part of themselves to anyone, which means that true intimacy will always allude them.

For many Codependents looking for a partner, having sex means something important, perhaps not a committed, monogamous relationship yet, but it means – this is where we’re headed. Because of their weak boundaries and need to be liked, many Codependents can be pressured into having sex on a first date, even if it’s not something they necessarily want to do.

For a Narcissist sex means something different. It means getting their fix. It means you like them, you’re attracted to them and this fills them up and quiets the beast within for a while.

A Narcissist speeds through the dating process because it’s almost like they’re on the clock. They want to get what they need and get out before being discovered. They want the attention, the affection – they want to hear I love you. This is really what they’re after. Once they have it there seems to then be a drop off in the amount of energy they put into the relationship. This is often where the devaluation comes into play. Even if they do stick around, once they know they’ve got you their attention wanes and the relationship is never the same again. They now start to use your feelings as a means of control.

Codependents speed through the dating process because they need a project. They are uncomfortable without someone else to dote and focus on. They derive their sense of worth through what they can do, give, or be for someone else.

Understanding and Slowing Down The Process

Your partner is the most important investment you are going to make in life. If you choose wisely you can build a life, a family and financial stability together, that’s based on love, trust and respect. If you choose poorly your life could wind up in chaos, isolation and financial ruin. So it’s an investment that no one should take lightly and certainly not one that should be sped through. Here are a few of my words of wisdom  on understanding and slowing down the process:

  1. Be mindful that getting to know someone takes time. Be mindful of someone trying to rush you through the process. Going slow and easing into any relationship should always be your goal and if you notice someone pushing you to move faster when you don’t feel ready or comfortable, that’s your flag and you need to act on that.
  2. I don’t care if your biological clock is ticking down its last minute. It’s no excuse to rush. Read some of the comments on here of people who have had children with Narcissists and pay attention to the nightmare they describe. Trust me on this one. If you want kids that badly adopt or go to a sperm bank. Never use “I want kids,” as a reason to rush through the dating process.
  3. Time is the only factor that will allow for someone to reveal their true selves. If you’re dating an emotional manipulator their mask will always eventually slip. Make sure you haven’t already taken out a loan for them, moved across the country, given them money, or moved them in before time has revealed the truth about them.
  4. Make sure you know what your boundaries are and don’t be afraid to act once they’ve been crossed. That means don’t ignore obvious signs, problems, or issues. Trust me on this one. If you noticed it in the beginning and you initially chose to ignore it – it’s going to get bigger and bigger and after a few months it’s going to grow a trunk and some tusks.
  5. Don’t invest in someone in someone with problems – addictions, mental health issues, angry contemptuous attitude, a pattern of unstable relationships, infidelity issues, money issues, responsibility issues… you can’t ignore these things. Don’t invest – get out early.
  6. If their ex, a family member, or one of their friends is telling you that the person you’re dating has any of the issues mentioned above – LISTEN.
  7. Relationships shouldn’t be a guessing game. If you’re not sure if you’re in one or not – you’re not – get out of it.
  8. If you have moved someone into your home, married them or taken a huge step and realized it was a huge mistake – end it and get them out. Don’t hesitate and don’t put up with excuses. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors on Codependency, Darlene Lancer, “Codependents don’t act, they adapt.” My advice to you is, “Don’t adapt – act.”

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