Co-dependency is an emotional and behavioural compulsion that affects your ability to maintain healthy, mutually fulfilling relationships. Codependent relationships are often one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. In such a relationship, you may feel like a caregiver, while you view your partner as someone in need; to be guided, rescued or saved. You may have been told that you often try to “fix” your partner.
These codependent patterns are frequently seen in those who have grown up in dysfunctional households or families. Your childhood and adolescence may have been marked by family members who suffered from addictions, or physical or mental illness. In addition, the presence of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse may have contributed to your co-dependent tendencies.
In such a dysfunctional family, the attention and emotion is directed solely at the problem member or members, so that you learn to deny or ignore your own feelings. Eventually, you stop noticing your own needs as important, and you begin to place the health, well-being and happiness of others before your own. This often results in a lost sense of self.
How Do I Recognize Codependency?
Codependents usually suffer from low self-esteem. You may find it difficult to “be yourself” due to your uncertain identity. You may have developed compulsive or risky behaviours, such as indiscriminate sexual activity, shopping addiction, gambling, and using drugs or alcohol.
Have you become a caretaker for and defender of your partner? Do you frequently sacrifice to ensure that your partner’s needs are met? A codependent person is actually enabling their partner. You may make excuses for or cover up that partner’s poor behaviour. You may ask your partner to stop their behaviour, but your actions could be telling them otherwise. For example, if your partner is an alcoholic, and you clean up after them, contact their workplace when they cannot come in due to being drunk or having a hangover, etc., you are reinforcing their actions, no matter what words you say to them.
The pattern continues because you crave the feeling of being xanax online in the usa needed, but once you are in this relationship cycle, it becomes difficult to break out of it. You are continually attracted to those who can be “rescued” by what you feel is love, but could better be described as pity.
Characteristics of Co-dependents
o Do you feel an unusual sense of responsibility for the actions of others?
o Are you in the habit of confusing love with pity; often “loving” those that you can rescue?
o Do you frequently take on more than your share?
o Do you need approval and recognition, becoming upset if your efforts go unnoticed?
o Do you fear abandonment? Would you rather be in a destructive relationship than no relationship at all?
o Do you have a compulsive need to control situations and others?
o Do you fear to change and have difficulty adjusting to new situations?
o Do you often feel angry?
o Do you find yourself lying or changing your story?
o Do you have trouble setting boundaries with your partner?
How is Co-dependency Treated?
The first step to change is recognizing, and attempting to understand the behaviour. As codependency is often rooted in your childhood, and could be affecting your current relationship, a therapist will often work to expose how past influences have created the present destructive behaviour patterns. Treatment focuses on helping you to get in touch with buried feelings, allowing you to really feel your own emotions for perhaps the first time.
Once you recognize your own feelings and needs as valid, you can learn to embrace your own identity. You can set boundaries and address your own needs. Through therapy, you are able to develop independent skills, such as learning to be self-reliant, taking care of yourself before others, and how to engage in healthy, mutually satisfying relationships.
If you, or someone you know is involved in this type of destructive pattern, a trained psychotherapist can help with overcoming this cycle.
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For further information about Codependency, check out my latest video about its symptoms on my Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicole-McCance-Psychology/106071256133962