Whether partners, children, other relatives, or friends, narcissist’s caretakers are sustaining forces who enable narcissistic personalities in their delusions, manipulations, and abuse.
When the caretaker is a spouse, s/he has likely been seduced by the narcissist, swallowing hook, line, and sinker that s/he is savior and soulmate, the only person who lives up to the narcissist’s idealized image of perfection, can heal her/his wounds, and complete her/him. Even when the narcissist inevitably becomes devaluing and abusive, caretakers continue to fulfill the role at the expense of their own needs and well-being.
When the caretaker is the narcissist’s child, the hook is planted firmly in place very early in life and tends to dig in deeper as that child develops into adulthood. Children burdened with such responsibility often adopt this role as fundamental to their identity and may continue to caretake the narcissistic parent to the very end. Even when the line is cut and caretaker adult children “swim” away, the hook remains lodged forever, surrounded by scar tissue that never fully heals. Such children are prone to repeating a caretaker role in other adult relationships, including with partners, bosses, and friends, and they often struggle with low self-esteem and unhealthy boundaries.