While treating sex addicts and their partners over the past decade, I have noticed an increase in partners attending their first session after much research stating they can diagnose their partner as a sex addict or intimacy anorexic.
They may also believe their partner is… a narcissist!
As of the last few years, this has become a popular diagnosis in the recovery community.
There have been many books, blogs, and videos posted online.
I, too, have written about this issue.
Check out the follow blog posts:
- Narcissism and Pimp Culture https://www.transformedhearts.com/narcissism-and-pimp-culture/
- Narcissists and Millennials https://www.transformedhearts.com/social-media-narcissists-and-millennials/
- When Cinderella Meets Peter Pan https://www.transformedhearts.com/cinderella-meets-peter-pan-intimacy-anorexic-sex-addict/
- Passive Men and Dominate Women https://www.transformedhearts.com/passive-anorexic-dominate-women/
Mythology is quite fascinating to me, as there are great truths in it.
Those before us knew a great deal about the world in which we live.
At times, I wonder if they knew far more than we even know today.
I do not wish to focus so much on Narcissus, as I wish to focus on the lesser known character, Echo, and the relationship between the two.
Let’s look at this interesting story and how it might relate to couples in recovery today.
[Please note that the behaviors are not meant to imply females always play the role of Echo any more than only males play the role of Narcissus. The role of Echo can be played by men, and the role of Narcissus can be played by women.]
There are different renditions of this story.
I am only going to paraphrase, and you can always do your own research.
Let’s be creative and look at this ancient couple while we play out the drama through a modern Tinder Profile.
Location: Once Upon a Time Account Activated: Centuries Ago
About Echo: “I just love to talk. Some people call me a chatter box. I confess I have a lot to say, plus I have a beautiful voice and who would not want to listen to me talk? Some people say that I talk too much, but I disagree. I believe people do not listen enough. Some people feel like I talk over them or would talk them to death. However, I believe that I am persuasive and think quickly. I can easily win any argument with my tenacious ability to talk, which gives my position of leadership and status among the nymphs. I admit I always have to have the last word.”
Special Interest: “I love debate club, speech club, toaster masters, drama club and theater. Most of all, I love… Narcissus. I am in love with Narcissus. He loves me too, but he just doesn’t know it yet. He’s just distracted and keeps himself busy with work, goals, dreams and all the other female nymphs dying for his attention. I am interested in following, and some would say “stalking,” the handsome Narcissus to get him to notice me. It will take some time, but I can change him to be the man I want him to be… and love me back.”
Strengths: Use of words, pressured speech, persuasion, high energy, optimism, quick to serve others and fix any problem that might come up. Kind, considerate desire to serve others, and very loyal.
Weaknesses: Self-centered, poor listener, insecure, mimicking what has been said but unable to receive or validate the feelings of others. Passive, compliant and do not believe I have any rights, loyal to a fault. Only able to reflect everyone once else. Feel like “I have no voice.”
Codependent: Overly served others, inability to assert or express her own needs, caretaker and a pleaser of others, strong desire to be loved, accepted, cared for, wanted, sacrificial-always putting others first, therefore, easily exploited.
Curse: Cursed by Zeus’ wife, Hera, for covering up Zeus’ whereabouts with the nymphs (as Zeus had a fidelity problem) by distracting Hera and covering for Zeus with her chattering.
The curse stated Echo would lose the ability to speak first but still have the ability to have the last word, however, only to echo or repeat the last words that were spoken to her.
Death: Died of a broken heart, poor self-care, and letting herself wither away.
Location: A Land Far Away Account Activated: Centuries Ago
About Narcissus: “To put it simply, I am stunningly handsome and beautiful. The female nymphs cannot keep their eyes or even the dirty little hands off me. Look but do not touch. I will have none of it. No one shall touch this sacred temple… this body of mine. I love to hunt in the woods, spending my time and energy freely the way I see fit. I am not to be distracted by all these females; however, I know they are distracted by my presence, tripping over one another to capture my attention. Foolishness, I have much bigger endeavors to tend to.”
Special Interest: “It is no secret that I love and am in love with myself. I also love body building, hunting, the outdoors, facials, pedicures, and manicures. I am interested in achieving my goals in life and anyone who will help me achieve them. I love looking at myself in the reflection of the water at the silver pond.”
Strengths: Great leader, adventurous, charismatic, determined, risk taker, visionary, loyal to no one other than himself, polished public image, and the ability to exploit and manipulate others.
Weaknesses: Arrogant, sense of entitlement, pride, disdain of women, illusion of self-confidence on the outside, very insecure on the inside, projects his shortcomings onto others, accuses, blames, and criticizes others. Displays anger and even rage behaviors, has a pit of emptiness he expects others to fill, self-absorbed. He has a huge fear of being considered a fraud, being questioned, or having any character defects revealed. He has a void, a bottomless pit of emptiness and discontent.
Codependent: He has a need for others to validate him and his accomplishments as well as a desire for recognition, admiration and approval from others. He has a need to be idolized constantly.
Curse: Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, curses Narcissus for his arrogance and the poor treatment of female nymphs. To teach him a lesson, Nemesis curses him so the next time he sees his reflection he would fall in love with himself but that love would not be returned so that he might know the rejection he as shown the female nymphs.
Death: Died by accidental drowning, self-absorption, poor self-care, and unreturned love by his own reflection.
Echo and Narcissus Profile Together
Together, Echo and Narcissus start out strong with a lot of attraction and excitement.
Narcissus is charismatic and pursing Echo emotional, relationally, and sexually.
However, as the relationship progresses, the facade wears off and the romance wanes.
Narcissus begins to accuse, blame and criticize Echo.
In return, Echo begins to react with acts of service, words of affirmation, and touch, giving herself sexually when she does not want to.
As she tries to please and admire him, she gives up on her own dreams, goals, identity and displays many other forms of self-betrayal as the relationship lingers on.
Narcissus puts himself first, as Echo puts him first also.
This codependent vortex or system they create might work for years or even decades until both are exhausted with feelings of hurt, fatigue, resentment, disrespect, offense, unreturned love, and emptiness.
Echo’s voice can still be heard today in the caves and canyons of the earth in which we live.
Her spirit is still alive in most every codependent relationship in recovery.
His spirit is alive and well today as any time one looks into a body of water, a mirror, or a window and sees their reflection.
Echo is still waiting beside him, longing to be loved, cherished, noticed, and comforted.
So, look at yourself first before you label him.
If you believe you are married to or in a relationship with a narcissist, you most likely are playing the role of… Echo.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.