Narcissists and borderlines tend to minimize or deny a codependent partner’s good qualities and exaggerate the negative. Conversely, trauma bonded codependents tend to exaggerate a narcissistic, borderline or alcoholic partner’s good qualities (even seeing attributes that don’t exist) and minimize or deny the negative.
See the problem?
This dynamic has several consequences. It can lead to endless, pointless circular arguments in which you defend yourself against the narcissist or borderline’s criticisms, distortions and lies. This is called JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain). It’s indicative of a power imbalance and just makes you more stuck. It can cause a codependent to try harder to prove they’re “good enough” and deserving of love. Except abusive personalities maintain their power by withholding whatever it is their victim desires most from them. In other words, that carrot will forever dangle out of reach.
Most importantly, the exaggeration or fabrication of good qualities prolongs the denial of and bargaining against accepting reality. That is, you are trapped in unending grief. And you wonder why your relationship is so painful!
Are narcissists and borderlines good people who do bad things? Or are they bad people who sometimes do good? Put another way, does the occasional act of kindness make up for repeated acts of cruelty and lack of remorse? I don’t think so.
To clarify, by remorse I mean sorry for hurting you. Not the typical self-pity and “poor me-ism” of professional victims like narcissists and borderlines when they finally experience negative consequences for their shitty behavior.
Have you engaged in this kind of self-deluding and self-destructive behavior in your relationship with a narcissistic or borderline partner? Did you begin to believe you were all the horrible things they accused of being that, in hindsight, were likely projection? Are you ready to face reality? Or, are you okay with the painful consequences of ignoring reality?
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Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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