The flip side to Narcissism is Codependence. Some codependent traits include: A lack of self direction; looking for reassurance, encouragement or approval before you take on a task or set out to achieve a goal for yourself, often seeking this from people the least likely to give you this support. You feel responsible for other people’s feelings or bad moods. You expect your loved ones to guess or interpret your needs when you are upset rather than communicate them directly.

The most common cause of Codependency is growing up with a childish parent. Codependency traits may begin when a child is expected to become caretaker to an emotionally demanding or needy parent where they were made responsible for keeping their parent(s) happy. If either of your parents were irresponsible, childish, an alcoholic, a gambler, unfaithful or abusive, you may have learned Codependency in order to survive. You may have been made to feel special for taking care of them and being treated more like an adult than a child, but this was at the expense of your own emotional needs and development.

This role may have won you special favor, but probably felt very uncomfortable. A child’s needs and personality have little room for expression or growth in this kind of relationship. You also may have learned some unhealthy ideas about happiness and personal goals.

If you have Codependent tendencies, narcissistic behavior will be extremely confusing and hurtful for you to live with. You probably grew up working hard to please people and confusing this for love. A person who once loved you, but is now irresponsible and points to you as the cause of their problems inflicts an incredible amount of confusion and emotional pain.

But you don’t have to stay Codependent forever! There are strategies and tools to start you on having healthier, happier and more satisfying relationships.

Kim Cooper is the author of “Back from the Looking Glass” and “The Love Safety Net Workbook,” e-books about healing an abusive relationship. She and her husband Steve co-host The Love Safety Net talk radio show and website at

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