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Do you know a couple who are a perfectly dysfunctional fit? Our personality types often determine the partner that we’re drawn to and what seems like a complimentary match. We have a tendency to seek characteristics that we desire in ourselves, but find in our mate. Unfortunately, what might appear to be a match made in heaven may be more like a connection made in hell. We may not be aware that our initial attraction clouded the dysfunction and flaws in our partner and possibly ourselves. A codependent person may look for someone who is confidant, competitive, and achievement-driven for example. Codependents tend to be caregivers and look for partners who lack in emotional maturity. Narcissists love the attention and admiration they receive from their codependent mates and prefer that someone else provide the care taking duties.
While this match may work initially in a relationship, over time conflict escalates with each other’s unmet needs. As time progresses and demands intensify both parties grow weary, resentful, and frustrated with each other which leads to detachment. In some cases, the narcissist finds other places or people to meet their needs, while the codependent shifts their focus to others excluding their partner. Inevitably, the couple either seeks professional help, self-destructs, or both. They both can easily identify their partner’s foibles, but have a difficult time accepting their own contribution to the problems in the relationship. They blame each other, defend their position, and justify their actions which keep them stuck in a cycle of dysfunction.
Most of us can identify with the codependent or the narcissist at times, but choosing to make a change requires a different level of commitment. Firstly, take responsibility for your role in the relational conflicts and openly apologize. The narcissistic type might have to work on being more attentive, compassionate, giving, and accepting of the other person’s boundaries. The codependent can benefit from taking care of themselves, being assertive, building self-confidence, and confronting conflict. We all have aspects of our personality that can rub our partner the wrong way, but many of us don’t take action on making changes unless we are confronted with a crisis. Take stock of your flaws, ask for feedback, and recognize that proactive changes can save a marriage. Don’t wait till it’s too late, act now!