An enabler is someone who allows the narcissist to continue their abusive behaviour by providing them with what they need to sustain their ego. Without the enabler, the narcissist would not be able to continue to act without impunity.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to understand how you are enabling their behaviour and what you can do to stop it.
Warning Signs You’re an Enabler for a Narcissist
Do you feel like you’re always the one giving in your relationship?
Do you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s bad behaviour?
If so, you may be enabling a narcissist.
Keep reading to learn more about what an enabler is, the warning signs that you may be one, and what you can do to change the situation.
What is an enabler?
Enabling is when someone who doesn’t have a personality disorder tolerates, excuses or agrees with the dysfunctional behaviour of someone who does have a personality disorder.
It’s a way of coping with the difficult behaviours by making excuses, denying there’s a problem or hoping things will get better on their own.
For example, if your partner is regularly late for dinner and claiming it was because they’ve been working late, but you know they’ve actually been out with friends, you’re enabling their lie by telling yourself and others that they were working late.
Enablers often do this because they want to avoid conflict, or they believe that they can change the other person if they’re just patient enough.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
When you enable someone, you might think you’re helping them, but in reality, you’re only prolonging the inevitable and making things worse.
What does an enabler do for the narcissist?
An enabler is someone who supports or encourages harmful or irresponsible behaviour in another person.
They might do this by making excuses for bad behaviour, looking the other way when it happens, or even participating in the bad behaviour themselves.
Enablers play an important role in enabling narcissistic abuse because they help to keep the cycle of abuse going.
Without enablers, narcissists would not be able to continue their abusive behaviors as easily because there would be someone holding them accountable.
If you’re wondering if you might be enabling a narcissist, read on to learn the signs and what you can do about it.
How can you tell if you’re an enabler?
There are several signs that you might be an enabler –
- You make excuses for your partner’s bad behaviour
- You try to cover up for your partner’s mistakes
- You blame yourself for your partner’s bad behaviour
- You downplay how serious your partner’s bad behaviour is
- You protect your partner from facing the consequences of their bad behaviour
- You allow them to control you with guilt trips or manipulation.
- You give them what they want so that they’ll stay with you.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If so, it’s time to take a step back and assess your relationship.
Remember, the narcissist is responsible for their own behaviour.
However, it is up to you to decide whether or not you want to continue enable them.
The consequences of enabling a narcissist
Enabling narcissists can have serious consequences for both the enabler and the narcissist.
For the enabler, it can lead to codependency, which is when someone develops unhealthy reliance on another person to meet their emotional needs.
This can cause problems in all areas of life including work, friendships, and family relationships.
It can also lead to physical and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and chronic stress.
Furthermore, if you don’t take action to stop being an enabler –
- The narcissist will continue to take advantage of you without consequences.
- Your self-esteem will suffer as you continue to blame yourself for their mistakes.
- Your relationship will become increasingly one-sided and toxic as the narcissist continues to control and manipulate you.
- You will miss out on opportunities to nurture healthy relationships with other people because all your time and energy will be focused on the narcissist.
For the narcissist, it allows them to continue their abusive behaviours without facing any consequences.
This can cause even more damage to their victims and prevent them from getting help from outside sources like therapy or support groups.
The narcissist will never change without outside help, meaning that unless they seek professional help, they will continue this pattern of behaviour with future partners.
How to stop being an enabler and start taking care of yourself
If you’re ready to break free from being an enabler, there are some steps you can take:
Set boundaries with the narcissist and stick to them. This may mean setting guidelines for what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable, or it may mean cutting off communication entirely if necessary.
Communicate your needs clearly and assertively eg. I need more time for myself
Start building up your self-esteem by spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and doing things that make YOU happy—not things that please the narcissist.
Focus on taking care of yourself first and foremost. This means putting your own needs above the needs of the narcissist.
Get help from a therapist or counsellor if necessary so that you can learn how to deal with narcissistic abuse in a healthy way.
Make a safety plan in case of emergency.
These steps won’t be easy, but they’re necessary if you want to break free from enabling abusive behaviour and start taking care of yourself first.
Ending a relationship with a narcissist is never easy, but it’s always worth it in the long run.
The most important thing is that YOU are safe and happy—that should be your priority.