Are you in a codependent relationship?
What is codependency?
Codependency is a concept where a person excessively relies on their partner for meeting all of their emotional or psychological needs. They also feel responsible for their partner’s feelings and actions.
Codependents are often called “enablers” and they tend to find partners with addictive behaviors; which leads them to focus all of their attention on “fixing” them instead of focusing on themselves. They often suffer from low self-esteem and stay in relationships, even when abusive, because they feel depressed when they are alone for too long.
Where does it come from?
Codependency is usually developed in early childhood as a result of a dysfunctional home environment where a parent proves to be unreliable (usually due substance abuse). A child growing up in this environment assumes that the disruption is their fault and takes on the responsibility of fixing the problem, often developing “parentification,” or the reversal of the roles between a parent and a child.
Children that don’t feel secure in the parent-child relationship can’t grow to full psychological maturity. They often feel haunted by the possibility of abandonment, so they need to keep their parent happy in order to feel accepted.
In doing this they never seek their own emotional fulfillment. They enter adulthood with low self-worth, no sense of inner security, and seeking partners to fill the void. They cling to their partners with desperation as if it were love. But this is far from love, because you can never truly love anyone unless you love yourself first.
You can never truly love anyone unless you love yourself first
Low Self-esteem / Perfectionism - You feel unloveable, like you’re never good enough. You’re super critical of yourself and feel the need to be perfect.
Lack of Boundaries - You find yourself unable to say no in fear people might get upset with you. You feel responsible for other people’s problems and try to take them on as your own. Or you shut people out completely.
Guilt - You feel guilty when you can’t fix other people’s problems.
People Pleasing - You ignore your own needs and go out of your way to do good deeds for others, seeking their approval, but then feel resentful or taken advantage of.
Intimacy Issues - This is at the heart of codependency, because of the fear of abandonment, betrayal and rejection.
Dysfunctional Communication - You lie because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings and keep quiet to avoid arguments.
Dependency - You base your opinion of yourself on how others feel about you.
Control - You need to feel like you have control over other people and situations.
Recovering from Codependency
In childhood you are stuck in your circumstance, but as an adult it is possible to fix your codependent behavior. The first step is recognizing codependent tendencies. Then, explore childhood issues or trauma and how they affect behaviors in your present life.
You can seek professional help, learn how to set healthy boundaries and develop long-term, meaningful relationships. Once you do, you will say goodbye to abusive behavior, walk away guilt-free from unhealthy relationships , and most importantly, learn to put yourself first.
Here are some mantras you can repeat to yourself anytime you are triggered or feel reactive.
I am enough.
I accept myself just how I am.
It’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
It’s not my job to fix others.
It’s okay if others get angry.
It’s not my job to take responsibility for others.
It is my job to make me happy
I have a right to feel my own feelings
When we learn to focus and work on ourselves, then we can begin to have deep and meaningful relationships based on love and respect.