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It's About Give and Take: How Codependency Hurts Us Like Other Addictions Do

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Does any of these situations sound familiar to you?

Your boyfriend smokes cigarettes, so you want to help him quit. You know he couldn’t possibly do it without you. You’re the only person who understands him enough to help him become a better person. You let him know all the time that you can help fix him, that without you, he’d fail.

Your girlfriend hasn’t called you yet to let you know she made it to work okay. Maybe she’s not really going to work, you think. You two did get in an argument last night. You start thinking that maybe she’s leaving you, abandoning you without warning. You’ve always been worried that might happen, in fact you tell her all the time .

If so, you might be experiencing .

Codependency is also called “relationship addiction”.

Codependency is called “relationship addiction” because in these relationships often display physical, psychological, and emotional reliance on their partners.

A person with codependency issues will often try to sacrifice their own needs and desires to meet the needs of their partner. Codependency is rooted in feeling of low self-worth shame and insecurity. It was first identified after experts noticed codependent behaviors in families dealing with drug abuse and alcoholism.[1]

Other experts believe that codependency begins during childhood, when a child is constantly required to look after the needs of others first. Children who grew up with alcoholic, drug-addicted, abusive, or emotionally negligent parents are likely to experience codependency in their future, adult relationships.[2] Children who grow up in these situations learn to believe that they are not important and sometimes, that they are the cause of their family’s problems.[3]

For people who are not relationship experts, codependency may look an intense amount of love. That love, however, comes from a place of fear. This fear may be a fear of criticism, fear of being abandoned, fear of losing control, fear of disappointing others, or fear of making somebody else suffer.

Codependency could be seriously affecting our adult relationships.

These codependent adult relationships become unfair, unhealthy, emotionally damaging, and sometimes abusive – mirroring the person’s childhood.[4]

This is why codependency should matter to you. Because if you want to have a healthy adult relationship, you have to understand what codependency is and how it could be affecting you. If you can identify your codependency, you can work toward making it better. You deserve that and so does your partner.

The biggest clue to identify codependency is an unsatisfactory relationship.

One of the biggest clues that you might be experiencing codependency is that you can’t find satisfaction in your life without your partner. Rather than being an independent individual in the relationship, you have come to rely on the other person for your personal happiness and identity.

According to Scott Wetzler, PhD and Chief of the Psychology Division at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine,[5]

“Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess…. One or both parties depend on their loved ones for fulfillment.”

People with codependency may have low self-esteem and feel that they aren’t good enough for other people. They may constantly seek approval through people-pleasing activities. It is difficult for them to say “no”.

Additionally, codependent individuals have blurry boundaries with others and may feel responsible for somebody else’s problems.[6]

Some other signs of codependency may include:[7]

  • Being sensitive to criticism
  • Needing to control others
  • Taking care of somebody who abuses drugs or alcohol
  • Denying personal problems
  • Feeling helplessness inside

So you’ve looked over the signs and symptoms of codependency and you’re starting to feel like maybe it describes you. Now what?

First of all, don’t worry. This is not the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning of a journey of learning and self-development.

There are steps you can take to fight codependency in your current or future relationships.

To have healthy love in your life, try the following tips[8]:

  • Imagine yourself in a healthy, loving relationship where all of your needs are met. What does that look like?
  • Start to question why you doubt your self-worth. The only person you need to prove your self-worth to is …. you!
  • Practice being kind to yourself instead of focusing on being kind to others.
  • Don’t forget that it’s not just okay to accept help from other people, it’s healthy. Knowing and admitting that you need help are signs of strength, not weakness.
  • Don’t worry so much rejection. The constant fear of being rejected will ultimately stop you from taking the risks that will lead you to a long, healthy, and happy relationship.

Last but not least, recognize the recovery process.

Above all else, do not deny that you have issues with codependency. Recognize it and admit it. The first step to recovery is honesty with yourself. You have spent a lifetime trying to deny your codependency. Now is the time to face it head on. Look to other people who can understand what you’re feeling for help. Support groups are essential in the healing process.[9]

Look back at your past and try to identify anything from your childhood that may have caused you to develop codependency as an adult. You are not being unloyal to your family by admitting that you have unresolved issues from your childhood. Sometimes this challenge is best approached in professional therapy sessions.[10]

The final step in overcoming your codependency is to let go of unhealthy relationships. If you are too involved in another person or relationship, you will not be able to focus on your healing process. This allows you to free up energy for yourself and break the toxic cycle of codependency.[11]

Remember that as you navigate the difficult process of identifying, coming to terms with, and overcoming your codependency – you are not alone and you are worth it.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] GoodTherapy: Codependency
[2] WhatIsCodepency: Symptoms of Codependency
[3] PsychCentral: What Causes Codependency?
[4] MentalHealthAmerica: Co-Dependency
[5] WebMD: Are You In A Codependent Relationship?
[6] PsychCentral: Symptoms of Codependency
[7] GoodTherapy: Codependency
[8] HuffingtonPost: Overcoming Codependency: Reclaiming Yourself in Relationships
[9] LifeCounsel: Overcoming Codependency
[10] LifeCounsel: Overcoming Codependency
[11] LifeCounsel: Overcoming Codependency

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