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Patterns & Characteristics of Codependence

Codependents Anonymous

Patterns & Characteristics of Codependence


The following checklist is offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. It may be particularly helpful to people who are exploring and understanding what codependency is and looks like. It may aid those who have been in recovery for a while to determine what traits still need attention and transformation.


Denial Patterns

Codependents often:

  • have difficulty identifying what they are feeling

  • minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel

  • perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others

  • Lack of empathy for the feelings and needs of others

  • label others with their negative traits

  • think they can take care of themselves without any help from others

  • mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation

  • express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways

  • do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted


Low Self-esteem Patterns

Codependents often:

  • have difficulty making decisions

  • judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough

  • are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts

  • value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own

  • do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons

  • seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than

  • have difficulty admitting a mistake

  • need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good

  • are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want

  • perceive themselves as superior to others

  • look to others to provide their sense of safety

  • have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects

  • have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries

Compliance Patterns

Codependents often:

  • remain extremely loyal in harmful situations for too long

  • compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger

  • put aside their own interests in order to do what others want

  • are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings

  • are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others

  • accept sexual attention when they want love

  • make decisions without regard to the consequences

  • give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change


Control Patterns

Codependents often:

  • believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves

  • attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel

  • Freely offer advice and direction without being asked

  • become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice

  • lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence

  • use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance

  • have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others

  • demand that their needs be met by others

  • use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate

  • use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally

  • refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate

  • adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes

  • use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others

  • pretend to agree with others to get what they want


Avoidance Patterns

Codependents often:

  • act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them

  • judge harshly what others think, say, or do

  • avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance

  • allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships

  • use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation

  • diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery

  • suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable

  • pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away

  • refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves

  • believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness

  • withhold expressions of appreciation


Used from www.CoDA.org | Copyright © 2011 Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. and its licensors -All Rights Reserved.

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