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Have you read about both the self-destructive behaviors of the codependent woman as well as the self-destructive behaviors of the narcissistic man? If so, you might think that they both engage in the same behaviors. And actually, to some extent they do. Frankly, this shouldn’t be surprising.

Like many codependent women,many narcissistic men grew up in homes with abuse present. However, the man displaying narcissism who engages in emotional abuse and verbal abuse, but never engages in physical abuse, probably was never physically abused as a child. He likely observed his father physically abuse his mother, though. On the other hand, those men diagnosable as having Antisocial Personality Disorder—formerly referred to as sociopaths and before that, as psychopaths--were typically physically abused as children. And indeed, they are the ones who’ll generally be physically abusive.

Anyway, the question we want to answer is this: Are these abusive men codependent? After all, their behavior often fits with what we’d expect to see in a person displaying codependency. And certainly, narcissistic men have a shame core, just as the women suffering from codependency do. But men displaying Narcissistic Personality Disorder or lesser degrees of unhealthy narcissism manage their shame core differently than codependent women, certainly.

Men displaying pathological narcissism are grandiose. They feel and act superior. They possess a sense of entitlement. Also, they rely upon power and control to both attain and remain in a position. In other words, the narcissistic husband plays the better than role while he behaves in ways that force his wife into playing the lesser than role—and whether she wants to do so or not.

Indeed, the cause of both the abusive narcissistic man’s and the codependent woman’s issues are often similar, or they stem from a shame core that typically stems from abuse, neglect, or abandonment in childhood. The narcissistic man and the codependent woman just play their issues out differently. The codependent woman typically uses the man to provide her with a sense of identity. However, the man suffering from narcissism relies upon a created image to provide his. Furthermore, he comes to believe in this image of himself that he has created. Fortunately for the narcissist, most around him typically buy into it as well.

The woman suffering from codependency and the man suffering from pathological narcissism both share another major issue. Indeed, they are both spiritually bankrupt. Thus, to move away from these destructive issues, they both need to embrace and enhance their spirituality. Sadly, though, most narcissistic men and even a number of codependent women will wake up to their emotional pain and the messages this pain is trying to deliver.

When a codependent woman leaves an abusive narcissistic man but doesn’t deal with her codependency issues, she is inclined to meet up yet once again with a narcissistic man. Because the codependent woman and narcissistic man have essentially the same issues, although they act them out differently, they will continue to attract each other. After all, we tend to attract people who are where we are psychologically.

If you suspect you are a codependent woman, will you seek to change yourself through personal development and spiritual growth? I certainly hope so. After all, we don’t want you to become one of those codependent women who divorces one man displaying narcissism, addictions, and abusive behavior, only to tie yourself down to another who may look different and act differently initially, but will undoubtedly soon fall into similar problematic behavioral patterns. Pursue spirituality, though, and you likely won’t fall for the created image of the narcissistic man ever again. Instead, you’ll likely settle for a nice guy because you’ll have moved beyond your codependency.