Home > Uncategorized > Relationships with Narcissists: When the Empathy Well Runs Dry

Relationships with Narcissists: When the Empathy Well Runs Dry


65558326 - old water well at thailand.For those of you reading this who are parents, imagine caring for a child who stays 3-years old or 13-years old forever. How draining would that be? Twenty years of tantrums and bad attitudes. Fifteen years of, “I know you are, but what am I!” Ten years of, “I hate you! You’re ruining my life! I don’t need you! I should just kill myself! Nobody in this family cares about me!”

Maybe some parents find these childhood developmental stages rewarding. If you’re like me, you’d rather have a root canal sans Novocaine or pick your form of torture. Many parents don’t especially enjoy these childhood stages, despite the sweet, funny and adorable moments. Good enough mothers and fathers soldier through the trying phases trusting that, with parental guidance, their kids will mature and become responsible, decent human beings. That’s not to say parents get it right all the time, but often enough so that their kids feel loved and secure, even when being disciplined.

Typically, personality disordered individuals, like narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and psychopaths, don’t grow up (even with treatment). They remain emotionally and psychologically arrested somewhere between the Terrible Two’s and the Troubled Teens. Codependent people have difficulty growing up, too, but in a different way. Codependents frequently have extreme difficulty letting go of the wish that mommy and daddy will miraculously change and care for and love them in healthier ways. This is the juncture where the childhood wounds of narcissists and non-disordered codependents dovetail. Ultimately, the goal for codependents is to recognize the childhood wish is futile, set it aside and begin the work of loving and caring for themselves. Essentially, you become your own parent as an adult and do the work for yourself that your actual parents weren’t capable of doing for you in childhood.

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Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier

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 abusive relationships, coping with the stress of abusive relationships or healing from abusive relationships. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.

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