For many years now, I’ve viewed Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder as being two different sides of the same core trauma coin. It’s made perfect sense to me then, how Borderlines and Narcissists (cloaked as givers, fixers and rescuers) are hopelessly magnetized to each other, and form traumatic quasi-attachment bonds.
For every person who’s grown up in a manner that turns them into a compulsive ‘giver,’ there must be a taker~ or one who’s willing to receive what another feels compelled to give. My online article, “HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? THE BORDERLINE/NARCISSIST COUPLE,” goes into great detail about this relationship dynamic, and succinctly reveals the roots of how each personality disorder was implanted in early childhood and is forever maintained, unless highly qualified help is engaged to dismantle and heal the core wounds that spawned them.
Both Borderlines and Codependents struggle with severe self-worth issues. The Codependent Narcissist constantly tries to ‘buy’ love and admiration from others with his compulsive over-giving behaviors, as he was programmed to feel unworthy of receiving nurturant supplies from another, since infancy.
It’s crucial to note, that millions of psychotherapeutic professionals carry a dual diagnosis of pathological Codependency AND Borderline Personality Disorder. They’ll rush to give you the shirt of their back and go out of their way to assist you, yet they emotionally and psychologically torture the lover or spouse who lives with them, with acting-out their fears surrounding genuine attachment.
The one who longs for and pursues a BPD lover convinces themselves they are the “healthier” partner, yet this is never true. Alas, birds of a feather flock together, and like attracts like. You’ll never see an emotionally whole, healthy individual pursuing one who is not. Emotionally available people seek out others who are fully capable of giving and receiving love. They’re not attracted to those who are not, because their energetic vibrations would be too dissimilar. It just wouldn’t feel like a MATCH!
The narcissistic Codependent NEEDS to be needed, and selects impaired partners (Borderlines) who are incapable of loving him. He must always sense he’s in the one-up position in all his relationships. He chooses needy or struggling friends, and is strongly attracted to emotionally high-maintenance lovers. His sense of self-worth and empowerment is derived by staying on an unequal or unbalanced playing field with others he sees as “less strong” than he. In this way, he maintains denial about being every bit as core damaged and broken, as those he’s trying desperately to fix.
One inalienable truth about this Borderline/Narcissist dynamic remains, however. What neither ever comes to recognize, is that if the more ostensibly impaired partner were to begin receiving specialized help to start getting WELL, it makes their original unspoken emotional contract, null and void.
When the codependent Narcissist has nobody around to repair, help or rescue, he feels empty, flat and lacking in confidence. His sense of worth is suddenly called into question, and he feels at great odds with himself.
In order to revive his sense of empowerment that’s long-been cultivated and cemented since early childhood, he must find another ‘fixer-upper’ project to stimulate and satisfy his insatiable hunger to quiet feelings of inner deadness that (as with Borderlines) are the byproduct of emotional dissociation. In short, he must find a way to divert attention from these difficult feelings within himself, by hyper-focusing on fixing someone else’s issues!
Thus, IF a BPD partner begins to recover, the Codependent may look outside his existing relationship, to seek another fractured lover to repair! This literally means, the Borderline is damned if she remains broken (because she’ll always be made to feel ‘lacking’ in her lover’s eyes) BUT damned if she gets well!
A healthy partner won’t trigger chaos, drama and conflict for a lover who’s grown up addicted to this type of stimulation, because his home of origin programmed him to always anticipate and expect it. This is WHY fixer/rescuer Codependent types get bored with and turn away from normal, healthy lovers who are capable of reciprocating their care and affection . . . and so do Borderlines.
The person we choose to bond with (to whatever extent we’re capable of attaching) is a perfect mirror reflection of Us. Our core wounds may be acted-out differently than theirs, but they are precisely the same.