Navigating Narcissistic Relationships: When You Have to Rely on Them

Navigating Narcissistic Relationships: When You Have to Rely on Them navigating narcissistic relationships: when you have to rely on them
Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

Being stuck in a situation where you rely on a narcissist for basic needs like finances or housing is not easy. The best option would, of course, be to leave and never come back, but sometimes that option is not feasible for various reasons.

You may be living in your parents’ house, knowing they are quite manipulative, but you have nowhere else to go. You may have learned about their behaviours, but you have to stick it out for some time while you recoup some finances or wait for a favourable scenario to finally end things.

It can feel entrapping, especially when you have to rely on them for shopping or providing food. There are a few things you can do to navigate this, but today I am going to talk about a very important principle that you can apply to all aspects of your life, not just dealing with someone manipulative.

I’m going to talk about seeing the difference between physical dependence and emotional dependence.

Separating Physical and Emotional Dependence

In this life, it’s natural to have some level of physical dependence on others at various points — whether it’s relying on parents for shelter as children, leaning on partners for financial support through hardships, or needing caregivers during illness/old age. Physical needs like housing, money, medical aid etc. pretty much need some interdependence. We can’t be fully self-sufficient islands.

The problems arise, however, when we start emotionally fusing our sense of worth and identity to the physical assistance someone provides us. We mistakenly attach intense emotional conditions and baggage to those physical supports we’re getting from them.

For example, a child who solely associates their parent’s financial provision of food/housing with self-worth may start believing “If I’m bad, they’ll abandon me, and I’ll be nothing without them.”

An adult relying on their partner’s income might think “If I disagree with them, they’ll cut me off and I’ll be helpless.” The physical dependency gets tangled up with fears, shame, and conditions.

So, while the practical physical dependence is unavoidable, we don’t have to be emotionally shackled or controlled by it. That controlling parent, narcissistic partner or caregiver tries to enforce that emotional dependence to maintain power though. “You need me, so you must obey me completely” is their toxic mentality.

But here’s the truth: No matter how much someone physically provides for you, that practical giving does NOT entitle them to your self-worth, authenticity or basic human dignity. You can accept the physical assistance for what it is — meeting your human needs in that moment — without sacrificing your entire identity, values or boundaries to their emotional grasp.

The key here is separating the practical transaction, which is the receiving of the physical stuff, from the emotional manipulation. For example, I can appreciate my generous aunt paying my tuition without letting her control my major/career just because she’s funding it. Or graciously receiving medical care from my parents without feeling indebted to their generosity and having that urge to please them.

It’s not easy, but it’s the best option instead of beating yourself up. After all, we’re just stewards, and we don’t need to get too attached to the physical. The greater the attachment, the bigger the fear of losing, and the greater the pain when you lose it.

It takes practice and you’ve got to analyse the situation you’re in and really look at how emotional independence will be of beneficial to you. It may low-key look like being ‘cold-hearted’ but being aware that you’re doing this to protect your peace on a deep level just for a moment as you strive for your own independence.

Maybe you can adopt a mantra like: “Their financial help doesn’t mean they own my soul.” Or picture yourself as that grateful tenant, not an indebted servant when accepting assistance from others.

The ultimate goal is to be okay with the physical realities of life while safeguarding your authentic independence as an individual. Don’t let those physical packages distort your belief system and make you feel unworthy.

Eat the cake gracefully, but don’t let the cake define you as a person.

That is what emotional dependence is all about. You can read more about it, and it’s a very good principle in life. Go easy on yourself, be watchful, and you will be okay.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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