What Is Codependency?
Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship where a person’s self-worth and emotional needs become dependent upon the other person. The codependent person may also enable the other person’s toxic habits without necessarily intending to. Healthy relationships strive to have an equal balance of giving and taking. Both partners strive to fulfill each other’s needs in a mutually beneficial way.
In a codependent relationship, there’s an imbalance of power that often favors the needs of the taker. This can result in a draining relationship with toxic consequences. Codependency and addiction can find themselves in the same boat. As you read through this guide, be honest with yourself about what signs may relate to you.
If you’re unsure of where your relationship falls, it may help to ask yourself these questions:
Is your sense of purpose centered around making extreme sacrifices to satisfy your partner’s needs?
Do you find it difficult to say no when your partner makes demands that require your time and energy?
Do you cover your partner’s problems with drugs, alcohol, or the law?
Do you feel trapped in your relationship?
Do you keep quiet to avoid conflict with your partner?
What are the Symptoms of Codependency?
The signs of codependency will also vary from relationship to relationship. You may only resonate with one or two signs. In other cases, all of these may hit home for you.
The following signs of codependency include:
Having a low image of yourself can lead to seeking external validation. This validation serves as a way to search for confidence outside of yourself. Consequently, this can lead to a person depending on their partner for self-esteem.
Imagine boundaries as an imaginary line between you and others. This line separates your unique thoughts, needs, and wants from another individual. Codependents may find themselves feeling responsible for other people’s feelings and problems.
A consequence of poor boundaries is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. As a result, you may find yourself getting easily offended. You absorb their words because there’s no boundary. This leads to defensive behavior.
You may find yourself in a position where you give up your needs to try and make the other person happy. It’s natural to feel empathy and sympathy for someone, but codependents put those people ahead of themselves.
Control gives codependents a sense of safety and security. It’s normal to want control in your life. You wouldn’t want to live in constant uncertainty and chaos. However, codependents can become overly controlling. Codependents may find themselves trying to change people around them so that they can feel okay.
Those struggling with codependency have trouble communicating their thoughts, feelings, and needs. This can arise as a result of being scared to push somebody that you love away. Instead of saying, “I don’t like that,” you might pretend everything is okay instead.
Communication is key in any healthy relationship. If you’re unclear about how you feel, the relationship may end up quite dishonest.
Intimacy issues often involve problematic behavior in relationships. For example, you may become overly dependent and clingy due as a result of weak boundaries. You may fear that you’ll be judged, rejected, or left. In other cases, you may be scared of losing your autonomy thus pushing somebody you love away.
Codependency can be very stress-inducing. This is especially true when addiction is involved. This distress can consequently lead to painful emotions. Shame, low self-esteem, and lack of self-respect can cause anxiety and fear.
This anxiety often stems from:
Fear of being judged, rejected, or abandoned
Feeling trapped when you’re alone