It’s a word used to describe unhealthy relationships time and time again, but few truly understand what codependency is and how it impacts those involved. Where did codependency originate? It’s not something only those in romantic relationships experience. This category can also include friendships and familial relationships.
You must first understand what codependency is and determine if you are in a relationship that falls into this category. A relationship may be toxic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s codependent. You can recognize the signs and learn how to end codependency to have a better relationship with others.
What is codependency?
A learned emotional and behavioral condition called codependency or a relationship addiction is one that prevents people forming healthy relationships. While it’s natural for people to rely on each other for support, those in codependent relationships have an imbalanced relationshipWhenever one depends on the other financially or physically.
In every codependent relationship, there are two sides to the coin: a giver who provides support and a taker. The ability to support the taker is often a measure of the giver’s worth. Problems can arise when the taker makes decisions that will make them no longer rely on the giver. The giver will feel abandoned and insecure.
The codependent partner will often have an underlying condition such as a mental disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, victim of abuse, or health condition. Both the giver and the taker won’t end a codependent relationship as they fear what will happen to the other person.
Theresa Ford Ph.D., LPC Creative Counseling and Coaching Services, LLC gives a take on codependency. “One way to describe codependency is if your partner has a headache and you take an aspirin. The two individuals are emotionally fused so that they can’t tell where one ends and the other one begins.”
Where does codependency originate?
Codependency is a learned condition that can often develop in childhood. A child who is raised in a home that treats their emotions poorly or punishes them can develop codependency. This can lead to low self confidence and shame. This is when codependent behaviors are formed, especially when it is combined with the need to take on adult responsibilities young in life.
Carrie C. Mead, LCPC This is how it should be described. “Codependent tendencies often develop as a result of dysfunction within the childhood home whereby the child had to care for the parent because a parent was chronically ill or addicted to drugs, for example.” In a society where the conversation has only just begun to explore the concept of generational trauma, it’s important to keep in mind how our childhoods are so formative.
Mead continues by giving a solid example. “The child then internalizes the idea that their parents cannot function without them and the child develops some pride in being able to care for someone. As an adult, this person now looks to ‘rescue’ their partners. They will gravitate to those they can help, such as addicts. Now, each partner is dependent on the other in an unhealthy and serious way. One person is ‘sick’ and one person is the ‘savior’.” Sound like anyone familiar?
What does codependency look like?
To avoid codependent people or determine if you’re stuck in a codependent relationship, you must first know what signs to look for. There are many ways to identify codependent people. recognize these behaviors. You can check to see if any of these sounds familiar.
Signs that a person is codependent:
- Approval is a constant need
- How others see you can determine your self-worth
- A tendency to avoid conflict
- Tendency to accept blame or apologize to keep the peace
- Extreme interest in the routines or behaviors of others
- A tendency to ignore the needs and wants of others
- Makes or manages decisions on behalf of others
- Excessive caretaking to the point that it becomes controlling
- Do not take on too much to gain praise or alleviate a burden from others
- taking on things they don’t want to so others are happy
- Fears of rejection or abandonment overwhelming
- Feeling guilty or anxious about doing something for themselves
- Extreme measures are taken to idealize others
- Regularly trying to save those who are incapable of taking care themselves
Signs you’re in a codependent relationship:
- It is difficult to recognize, respect, and reinforce boundaries
- Inability to make decisions in a relationship
- having poor self-esteem
- Excessive sense of responsibility for others
- To avoid conflict, you walk on eggshells
- You are obligated to check in regularly with the other person
- you can’t make decisions or go anywhere without feeling like you must request permission
- apologizing when you shouldn’t
- Placing them on a pedestal
- you go above and beyond for them even if you don’t want to or you’re uncomfortable
- Losing your self-esteem
- you can’t seem to find time for yourself
Here’s a common example: codependency in relationships. The giver provides everything necessary for an adult who should be capable of caring for themselves. The giver might be able to assist them with their drug addiction, weight problems, mental illness, alcoholism, and other health issues. In such cases, the giver is able to serve as an enabler.
A romantic relationship that is codependent can be illustrated by the giver not taking care of themselves, their job or their friendships in order to be with their partner. The giver puts all their energy and time into their relationship and leaves nothing for them. They may be manipulated by the taker of the relationship, probably unintentionally.
How to Stop Being Codependent
Once you’ve realized you’re in a codependent relationship, there are various steps you can take to break the cycle. Learn what a healthy relationship looks like. Trust, respect and support are the signs of a healthy relationship. You should feel at ease expressing your emotions, showing affection, as well as maintaining your individuality.
You can regain your independence by pursuing your interests and acquiring new hobbies that will expand your circle of friends. Even if that means spending a few hours in a mall or watching a movie, take time for yourself. Self-care can be a key to maintaining healthy relationships. Cynthia Halow is the founder of Personality Max, recommends that you should, “find a hobby or interest.” A lot of couples avoid this but Halow points out that, “doing something that you enjoy and take your time will allow you to explore, find yourself, and make your own decisions.” We couldn’t agree more.
Get Back in Touch
Being in a codependent relationship can cause other relationships to suffer. When you’re trying to get back your independence, it’s essential to reconnect with the important people in your life. These can be old friends, coworkers, family members, or anyone you’ve lost touch with. Halow suggests that you should, “engage in activities that don’t involve your partner.” What does this mean? She explains, “You should also do things alone like, go to the museum, see a movie, or go for a walk daily. Basically, just participate in activities regularly that don’t involve your relationship or partner.” Even taking yourself on a self-date to the movies can be a great step forward.
Learn To Set Boundaries
Boundaries are an integral part of any healthy relationship. To reach them, it is important to encourage open and honest communication. You need to communicate your needs and listen to others.
Healthy relationships go beyond just having some time for you. You need to be selfish at times and turn down the things you don’t want to do, even if it makes someone unhappy. When asked what this might mean, Halow recommended that you should, “stop doing things to your detriment. You must put yourself first and be selfish. When something doesn’t make you happy, turn it down or don’t do it. Do more things that make you happy and don’t hurt you or anyone else.” Time to cancel that night out and take more naps!
Therapy is often required to overcome codependency. Depending on your individual circumstances, you might consider group therapy, family treatment, relationship therapy, cognitive therapy, or both. Different therapy methods will work for the giver and the taker. Each party will likely need individual therapy, as well as joint therapy sessions to address specific issues within the relationship.