Relationship Addiction

22 March 2019

Relationship Addiction

by Samantha Doyle


“I am sick of having to do everything!” . Does this sound familiar? I have heard this numerous times over the years from stressed out clients that have come to my practice that want me to help them with stress and anger issues. I ask them to list all of the things they HAVE to do and this usually includes a list of things that they have to do for other people. Sometimes I even get tired listening to the lengthy list that they recite to me. No wonder they are stressed out.

When we take a really good look at this there is usually some underlying issues that clients don’t expect to hear. I often find that people that do a lot for their families and friends or at work tend to have strong co-dependency tendencies this is a relationship addiction. Clients are shocked when I say this and often will tell me that it’s the other way around that other people are depending on them. I get this because the name co-dependency can throw people off. 


Relationship Addiction

Co-dependency is in fact a relationship addiction usually to a person or people that have strong narcissistic tendencies. This is unknown to the co-dependent but they are subconsciously attracted to narcissists. The co-dependent will have experienced a narcissist early on in their childhood that usually is by a parent/s or significant care giver.



Their narcissistic parent will withdraw love and acceptance from their child but will give acceptance under certain conditions. These conditions are if they do what every the parent wants them to do and put their parents needs first or they achieve and make them look good in public. The child’s needs are never met and they learn that if they want acceptance and love they have to put other people’s needs before their own.

The child’s wants or feelings are not validated or taken seriously and are usually diminished by the narcissist. The co-dependent child learns to shove their feelings down inside because they are often told that their feelings are not real or that they are not feeling the way they say they do. They narcissist may demand that they justify their feelings they are asked “why do you feel scared when I shout” or are told “no you don’t feel scared don’t be so dramatic” as if they don’t have the right to have these feelings unless they give a good explanation that doesn’t involve the narcissist taking any responsibility. Even then their feelings are not taken seriously.


People Pleasing and Control

The child tries to control the outcome of how the parent views them or what they think of them. The child then goes into people pleasing behaviours to control this. They then found their little way of gaining acceptance. However this won’t last as the favours then become expected and the demands get higher and more frequent. The child then learns that this is how they need to behave in all relationships and they continue their people pleasing behaviours through their lives. They can become exhausted and resentful as they never really gain the acceptance they needed. They can often end up in emotionally abusive relationships with narcissists where they put their needs first in a bid to control the outcome.

“I am sick of having to do everything” is a red flag that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist.


About the author


“My Name is Samantha Doyle and I am an Irish Psychotherapist and Counsellor. I have many years of experience and I specialize in providing therapy for people suffering from the Aftermath of Narcissistic and painful or Abusive Relationship. I am a Person Centred Therapist and a Solution Focused Therapist using CBT. I work with overcoming Anxiety, Stress, Panic Attacks, Trauma, PTSD & Depression. Types of Clients I work with: Adults Couples Teenagers”.


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