Narcissistic Abuse ~ The Dance of Narcissism and CoDependency

Dr. Jeanne King, PhD. 05/27/2021

The concept of narcissistic abuse is so clear when you are standing in one of these relationships. It’s kind of like this…

Pretend you and your partner are standing on the corner, and he/she (can go either way) is stepping on your foot. You tell him that he is standing on your foot…

Can’t Be

He says… that simply can’t be. While his shoe is placed directly onto the toe box of your shoe, he is only being near you, so he says. Your partner vehemently denies placing his weight on your foot. And nothing changes…

Time passes and the discomfort of his standing on your foot doesn’t go away. Actually, it gets worse. You begin to feel a throbbing pain. And again, you seek his cooperation in your addressing it.

You tell him that your foot hurts… It’s throbbing because of the pressure and weight of his body placed directly on your foot. That’s impossible he says, you are claiming that I’m hurting you when all I’m doing is being near you to protect you.

He says, if you don’t want me to be near you, then I’ll just leave. (In fact, I’m going to leave anyway because you won’t let me stand on your foot.) Your unwillingness to allow me this privilege/entitlement is a huge blow to me, he claims.

You don’t want him to feel as he reports, so you welcome him to stay all while pleading that he do so without standing on your foot. You feel like an unheard broken record lost in your efforts to deal with his secondary darts thrown in to avert accountability and keep you holding on.

Must Be Something Else

He replies, if your foot hurts when I stand here, then there must be something wrong with you, because many women have allowed him this privilege in the past…and he knows there are many to follow that will welcome this gesture of standing on their foot.

After the two of you toss his rights around and diminish your concerns, still nothing happens to alleviate your pain and discomfort. Eventually, your foot starts to swell and turn purple. You point this out to him, and your experience remains to be heard.

“You are exaggerating,” he declares. What I’m doing here could not be causing you this discomfort. You are making a big deal out of nothing. You are far too sensitive. Your pain must be coming from an older injury you sustained, he asserts. And further, I have every right to stand where I wish, how I wish and when I wish!

Know Your Options

I assume that you see his lack of empathy and failure to assume personal accountability. Can you see how she is awaiting both his permission and compliance to deal with her own pain? And in so doing, nothing changes. Because at the end of the day, a narcissist doesn’t care about another person’s experience if it is in conflict with his/her satisfying their own personal needs. This person’s inability to empathize (stand in another person shoes) and unwillingness to assume personal accountability for their contribution to conflict leaves the two of you in a dead end. You cannot have a satisfying relationship under these conditions.

The only relationship you can have with this person is the one that fulfills the narcissist’s needsexclusively. If that is not your life purpose, then you are creating the wrong relationship. Trust that you have other options rather than enabling, contributing to and supporting the dynamics that result in continued damage to yourself. Seek to learn how you can break this cycle of narcissistic abuse, before your foot falls off…before this conflict costs you further demise…before the narcissistic abuse spirals out of control.

For more information on narcissistic abuse dynamics, visit

Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples worldwide recognize, end and heal from narcissistic domestic abuse.

© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

9 responses to “Narcissistic Abuse ~ The Dance of Narcissism and CoDependency”

  1. Tracey Everton says:

    Hello Dr King,
    This article resonates and sings to my experience. An experience I have lived for many, many years, but I have had enough. I still have breath in my body and a chance to have my own life. I want to take it now and I hope you can help me to do this. I recognise that I do need help. Each time I think I have had enough I conjure up his ‘false’ self, how wonderful he is, how I would be mad to leave him – he’s so handsome, incredibly funny, generous…..but not with me. Just everyone else. I still believe I love him, but it is his ‘false’ self I love, which I knew fleetingly at the beginning of our relationship. He tells me he only treats me this way as it is my fault and I am lacking in every way – I only have myself to blame – and then points to how loved he is by everyone – and he is – which has kept me trapped for so long, as I have believed him. I must be wrong, unlovable, difficult, stupid, etc……..

  2. NC says:

    I am sitting in my car – feeling so over whelmed and frustrated by the person who is suppose to love me yet increasing snaps at me for little things then ask me why o am mad ?then when I point out what he did to effect me and make me feel so disrespectfes- he denies he raises his voice or was angry – like he said it ina. Call sweet tone – not but a hostile angry tone.
    I feel so isolated because I am the only person who is experiencing this and per his persona to people on the outside would think I was making it up.
    I am a very independent and intelligent woman. If I was not not stuck in the house I bought and be out tons of money- I would give back the ring this second.

  3. Jeff says:

    Gotta say it. My wife is the narcissistic abuser, so this is not just a guy beating down on a woman thing. I grew up solely around women as a guy in a lesbian household, and I did see woman-on-woman abuse. I have become surprised though at the strange relationship I now have after many years where I “Wake up every morning and wonder what’s going to happen today”. Yes, from “Best of My Love”, but so very true.

    • Dr. Jeanne King PhD says:

      In my professional practice I see this both in men and women about 50/50. I do understand. Let us know if you want help…


    Do not consider yourself STuck….dON’T LET HIM LIVE WITH YOU. Money will not save you…nope. YOU HAVE TO SAVE YOURSELF. I lived in that sick abuse for 20 years and now I have 2 Adult kids that are Arrogant, and do all of the Red Flags their Dad did….and I divorced him 22 years ago, and THEY ARE STILL MAKING ATTEMPT TO ABUSE MY LIFE. I am considering filing Criminal Charges again the Covert Ex…and the kids to make them stop. The Abuse ONLY GETS WORSE.

    • Dr. Jeanne King PhD says:

      Yes it only gets worse… and it often continues for decades. Take good care of yourself.

  5. Susan says:

    But, I still Love them, still want them, & feel half of me is gone after 26 yrs. of marriage. Why couldn’t they stayed & seen even a small part of what I was trying to explain to them. After all the therapy sessions together, alone, so much work, all our life’s work together, just to end up all by oneself. How to move on from this & trying so dam hard not to sit & wallow or freeze as the world is so hard & scarred shitless. Just asking How? I’d love to know the answer.

  6. Rob says:

    BDL women are the worst! Complete psychopaths be prepared to get out while you still can ! Pure evil ! The abuse can and does kill!

  7. Wanda says:

    I have lived with an abuser for over 20 yrs. I too wake up everyday wondering what I will have to deal with today. He knows I can’t leave, I have no means of support except for him. He tells me how much money I will get when he passes, if I stay with him. He’s ten yrs. older than me and his health is bad. He doesn’t show me any kind of love or affection, and hasn’t touched me in over 15 yrs. except to give me a pitiful hug now and then. Once he hugs me, his job of showing affection is done for the day. He tells me I need to know my place and keep my big mouth shut. If he wants my opinion he’ll ask for it. I have been miserable for over 20 yrs. but I have no where to go. No family to support me. He knows this, and uses it against me. I feel like I’ve lost myself over the years, and I’m living his life, not my own. He tells me I’m a problem for him. He’s very abusive verbally, and mentally. I lost my Mom and best friend within two days of each other, and i have no family that cares. They can’t stand him so they stay away. He’s the only person I see or have to talk with now. Talking has never been our strong suit. He is constantly talking over me, like what I have to say means nothing. I’m trapped.

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