What Is Codependency?
Codependency occurs when you rely on a partner, family member, or friend to provide you with approval, an identity and self-esteem. Codependency is basically an addiction to another person. A tip-off that you might be codependent is if your purpose in life is to make someone else happy even though it’s at your own expense. Another sign of codependency is when you cling to someone else because you have no sense of self-sufficiency and autonomy on your own. Anyone can become codependent. If you grew up with parents who were difficult to please and taught you to ignore your own needs in order to please them, you may be predisposed to codependent relationships.
How Do I Know If I’m In A Codependent Relationship?
Is your relationship one-sided, physically abusive, or emotionally destructive? Are any of the following true for you? If so, you may be in a codependent relationship:
o Does your satisfaction in life depend on what’s going on with another person?
o Do you strive to please your partner while ignoring yourself?
o Does your partner have serious issues but you stay with them anyway?
o Are you spending all your energy on being supportive of someone else?
o Has anyone suggested that you may be too dependent on your partner?
o Does your relationship keep you in a state of anxiety?
o Do you strive to be what your partner wants you to be?
o Are you constantly trying to change your partner?
Where Did The Term “Codependency” Come From?
Codependency was originally defined as a common, but unhealthy behavior pattern seen in those who were involved with alcoholics and addicts. The term is sometimes applied to those who care for someone with a chronic health condition or a mental illness. Codependency can also be used to describe anyone in a dysfunctional family.
What Is A Dysfunctional Family?
People in dysfunctional families typically deny or ignore painful emotions like shame, guilt, anger, grief, sadness, and fear. Codependents in dysfunctional families learn to disregard their own emotional needs at the expense of pleasing others. Dysfunctional family members often inflict emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse on each other. Someone in the family may be a substance abuser or have a chronic mental illness or a disabling physical condition. Because emotions and problems are swept under the carpet, dysfunctional family members stop growing emotionally at an early age. They continue to be emotionally immature throughout their lives.
What Are Some Common Characteristics Of Codependents?
Usually there is a dysfunctional family member who is chronically ill or chronically addicted. The entire family focuses all their attention on the sick person. The codependent cares for the sick person and makes sacrifices to keep the sick person happy. Over time, the codependent gradually loses all awareness of what they want and need for themselves.
Codependents usually have low self esteem. They are drawn to anything outside of themselves that will make them feel better. Some become addicted to drugs and alcohol while others indulge in excessive shopping, sex, eating, and gambling. They try to help the substance abuser by enabling them, making excuses for their behavior, and protecting them from the consequences of their actions. Although the codependent means well, treating the addict this way will encourage the addiction rather than heal it. As an addict becomes more dependent on the codependent, the codependent becomes more addicted to being needed.
Self-sacrifice, a compulsive need to help others and an excessive sense of responsibility for the actions of others begin to define all of a codependent’s relationships. Codependents often confuse love with pity, so they look for people they can rescue, help, and feel sorry for. They always do more than their share, and then they get mad because they don’t feel appreciated.
Although a codependent might feel fed up with a relationship from time to time, they are also terrified of being abandoned and left alone. As a result, they will do anything necessary to keep the sick person in their lives. Meanwhile, they continue to hope that things will improve. Unfortunately, without treatment, they rarely do.