We hear the word ‘codependent’ and ‘co-dependency’ being thrown around a lot. If you are like most people you are probably asking yourself, what do these terms actually mean? Furthermore, how do you know if you or someone you love is codependent?
Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can affect family members across generations. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to develop and maintain healthy, equally enjoyable relationships. This means that we seek to replicate at times subconsciously what was modeled for us as children. Do you sometimes ask yourself why you find yourself drawn to emotionally unavailable or abusive partners? Someone to take care of you or control you? Co-dependency can also be viewed as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often seek to form or maintain one-sided relationships that are emotionally harmful, critical and/or abusive.
Codependency can leave us feeling that we are unable to exist without the other person and that their approval is necessary for us to feel happy—complete even. A hallmark trait is a tendency to confuse love and pity; with the belief that love means finding people to rescue, fix or save. Essentially, being codependent means you make other people’s problems your problems. You have an excessive need to go above and beyond to help others while resenting that they are not there for you. In an effort to avoid feelings of abandonment, codependents will do anything to cling to unhealthy relationships. Codependency affects relationships other than romantic partners—you can be codependent with siblings, co-workers, parents, substances and friends.
Being codependent stops us from becoming our best selves by blocking emotional growth in our relationships. It is common for people who are codependent to experience anxiety, depression, anger, stress and other psychological problems. Co-dependency is frequently associated with early childhood issues; therefore treatment often involves examination of early childhood dynamics as it relates to current behavior patterns. It can be emotionally exhausting to feel that one’s happiness and well-being is always dependent on another person.
Do You Identify With These Codependent Traits?
The following checklist can be used as a tool to aid in self-evaluation:
- Do you find yourself going out of your way to be liked by others? Codependent behaviors often cause emotional issues. The tendency to seek approval from others as a measure of self-esteem or self-worth. We often see this behavior in people with a damaged sense of personal truth.
- You assess yourself through the other person’s eyes.
- Do you have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others?
- If someone verbally abuses you by calling you names, you automatically tend to believe you deserved it, did something wrong and look down on yourself.
- You are easily manipulated because you are sensitive to what you envision people think of you.
- Do you have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines and finishing projects?
- You feel responsible for solving others’ problems.
- You have fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval.
- Do you have trouble communicating effectively in relationships for fear of losing the relationship?
- Having trouble making decisions in a relationship without checking with the other person for approval.
- You are addicted to the feeling of being in love and fall in love easily.
- You remain in relationships, ignore or rationalize the red flags because of your need to be loved.
Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? There is help for recovery and change for people who are codependent. The first step is getting guidance and support. If you identify with any of these codependent characteristics, let’s talk about how we can work collaboratively to bring peace and fulfillment back into your life.
Ready to get started? Contact NewPoint of View today!