Controlling Codependency: Keeping Others In Line

Narcissists always get a bad press and probably rightly so. (At this point, we should note that we should only use the term narcissist when someone has been officially diagnosed with NPD. Also, there are degrees of narcissism). The common belief is that they are void of compassion and empathy and are not capable of “love”, so fairly unsavory types. This is, in my experience, more or less true and if you have the misfortune to become involved with one, your life is destined to be troublesome.

To say the least, as we know, the laws of human attraction tell us that codependents are more likely to have this trouble than others. “Give and take” takes on a whole new meaning here! However, when it comes to methods used to keep a partner in line, codependents also have an array of tools to make this happen.

One such method is employed by the “controlling” codependent. Now, this author has argued in earlier posts that codependency, especially in relationships, is largely about control. I stand by that theory but the tactics used by the controlling codependent take this to a stage further.

A controlling codependent only feels secure when the object (partner) feels insecure and the balance of power swings towards him or her. With this insecurity, the codependent can set about fixing things and people pleasing (To their advantage). In this scenario, they have control, they comply and agree with their partner and do all they can to give the impression everything is ok. What they generally do not want is their partner to feel secure. This might bring up feelings that they will be left, abandoned and be alone. Controlling codependents will then use subtle and not so subtle methods such as silent treatment, passive-aggressive behavior and victimhood to undermine their object’s feelings of being secure. They are also very vigilant to changes in the object’s mood or behavior, which might suggest the tide, is turning in either direction. This is very much part of the drama triangle I have described here before.

How would anyone think that having an insecure partner is better for them? I am dealing with one such case at present, where the cycles described above are taking a heavy toll on the relationship, so it exists. We, unfortunately, need to look for answers in the same place that we always look when codependency is an issue and where this behavior was consolidated… Childhood. Dealing with perceived and real feelings of loss and abandonment, insecurity, guilt and shame, help to change the way a codependent sees the world and subsequently the people in it. It is often a tough process but one that can bring good rewards. Not until this is done effectively can anyone really say they are “ready” for a relationship. Coming to a point of awareness is the first stage… then decisive action must follow to bring about change.

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner

Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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