In this blog article, we will discuss codependency, how it forms, and ways to overcome it.
What is codependency?
The term ‘codependency’ is often used to describe relationships where an individual completely and totally relies upon someone else.
Codependency carries a lot of connotations and complicated feelings with it. Codependent relationships involve someone who is entirely dependent on someone else and will remain dependent upon them as long and will do whatever it takes to make that person happy.
In the simplest terms, a codependent relationship develops to the point where one person desperately needs the other person in the relationship. This type of relationship perpetuates what professionals call the “cycle of codependency.” The people involved in a codependent relationship tie their confidence and self-esteem entirely to the validation they receive from their partner.
What are some important things I should know about codependency?
- Codependent relationships can exist between companions, romantic partners, or relatives.
- Often, this type of relationship incorporates passionate or physical mistreatment.
- Loved ones of a codependent individual may perceive that something isn’t right in the relationship.
- Like any psychological issue, treatment requires time and effort from working with a clinician.
What are the signs and symptoms of codependency?
It can be difficult to recognize an individual who is codependent as opposed to someone who is completely captivated by another person. As a general rule, codependent individuals will:
- Discover no fulfillment or bliss in life outside of getting things done for the other individual in the codependent relationship.
- Remain in the relationship even if they know the other person does harmful things.
- Do anything to please and fulfill their empowering influence regardless of how it affects them.
- Feel consistent uneasiness about their relationship because of their craving to consistently be satisfied by the other individual.
- Utilize all their time and energy to give the other person everything that they request.
- Feel remorseful about considering themselves in the relationship and won’t express their own needs or wants.
- Overlook any ethical concerns about doing what the other individual needs.
Others may attempt to converse with the codependent person about their interests. However, in spite of what others may say and recommend about the individual’s codependency, an individual in a codependent relationship will find it extremely difficult to break free from that relationship.
The codependent individual will feel an internal clash about isolating themselves from the individual they’re codependent with because they’ve realized they’ve given up their own interest to service the needs of the other person.
Co-dependence vs. Dependence
It is critical to realize the distinction between relying upon someone else — which can be a positive and alluring quality — and codependency, which is destructive.
There are a few key factors that differentiate dependency from codependency:
- Two individuals depend on each other for help and love. Both have a healthy role in the relationship.
- Both sides focus on their relationship, yet can discover delight in outside interests, different companions, and diversions.
- Both individuals can communicate their feelings and needs and discover approaches to make the relationship meaningful.
- The codependent individual feels useless except if they are required by — and making sacrifices for — the other person in the codependent relationship. The other party gets fulfillment from getting all their needs met by the other individual.
- The codependent person is very happy when making grand gestures for the other person. They believe they should receive all of their validation from this person.
- The codependent person has no unique character, interests, or qualities outside of their codependent relationship.
Either one or two people in this relationship can be codependent. A codependent individual will disregard other significant aspects of their life to satisfy the other person. Their extreme commitment to this one individual may harm:
- different relationships
- their career
- their interests
The other individual involved, who depends upon a codependent person, doesn’t know how to have an equal, healthy partnership and frequently depends on someone else entirely.
How does a codependent relationship form?
Codependency is a behavior that normally comes from past behavioral and emotional challenges. In some cases, codependency can come from living in a house with someone who abused drugs or alcohol. Professionals often state that codependency stems from a variety of circumstances.
Harming parental relationships
Individuals who are codependent as adults often had issues with parent/child relationships when they were younger. They may not have been taught that their own needs were less important than the needs of their parents, or that their needs were important at all.
In these kinds of families, the child might be instructed to concentrate on the parent’s needs and to never consider themselves. These types of parents/guardians may teach their kids that children are egotistical or avaricious if they need anything for themselves. Thus, the child figures out how to overlook their own needs and considers only what they can accomplish for others.
In these circumstances, one of the guardians may have:
- Substance abuse problems with drugs or alcohol
- Narcissistic tendencies
- Driven their child to seek codependency in relationships later in life
What should I do if I live with a codependent relative?
Codependency may likewise come about because of the need to care for someone who is ill. If a child has to play the job of a guardian, particularly at a youthful age, many kids may dismiss their own needs as they help other people.
An individual’s self-esteem may conform to being needed by someone else. Numerous individuals who live with an unkind relative don’t show signs of codependency. However, it can occur in hostile family situations, especially if the parent/guardian in the family shows signs of codependency.
Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse in families can cause psychological trauma that last years or even a whole lifetime. One form of this trauma displays itself as codependency.
A young person who is abused will figure out how to curb their emotions as a survival mechanism against the abuse. As an adult, surviving traumatic behavior can force others into thinking solely about another person’s emotions while disregarding their own needs. In some cases an individual who is abused will seek out toxic relationships because it’s a familiar type of relationship for them.
Is there a specific treatment for codependency?
The treatment of codependency for both people is usually psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or different sorts of treatment concentrated on recognizing and changing behaviors in a constructive manner, helps the individual who struggles with codependency in their relationships. Couples therapy helps individuals in codependent relationships or private organizations and family therapy can help decrease the effect of codependency among guardians, kids, and more distant family members.
Different practices in this field include:
- Spending time alone for personal growth
- Reconnecting with work or leisure activities outside the codependent relationship
- Discovering approaches to saying “no” to codependent requests
- Reconnecting with other loved ones
Recovering from Codependency
A few ways to deal with codependency include four stages, called the Four A’s:
- Abstinence: Sobriety from substances is important if substance misuse is an issue in the codependent relationship. This includes doing different activities, including “personal time” or reviving enthusiasm for leisure activities, to turn one’s locus of control back to what comes from within instead of an outside relationship.
- Awareness: Acknowledging that codependency is an issue, much like recognizing that substance misuse is an issue, is a significant step to finding support in helping stop unhealthy behaviors. Mindfulness incorporates seeing when the individual participates in codependent practices, such as controlling others or overexerting oneself for someone else.
- Acknowledgment: Overcoming an emotional condition or substance misuse issue is a difficult process that incorporates treatment, self-care and self improvement, which may not always be easy. Overcoming codependency requires knowing just how much you depend on relationships.
- Activity: After monitoring your changing behaviors, it is essential to put them into action so you can transform yourself. Working with a mental health professional will support you throughout this process.
Connecting with others so you can get help is perhaps the hardest advance for individuals battling codependency because they are used to individuals needing them, not the other way around. Seeking help from professionals, friends and family members is essential to recovering from codependency and improving relationships.
“Codependent relationships can be changed, and they don’t need to be finished; be that as it may, this work requires both people to find support.”
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about codependency:
When I break a codependent relationship, what will happen to the other person?
When you break off a codependent relationship with another person, you leave them with their own room to grow. While this process might be painful at first, it’s a very important step in breaking the codependent nature of the relationship. Not only will this allow them to grow as a person, but it will also provide you with plenty of space to grow as well. It’s important to remember that no matter what happens once this relationship ends, the other person is not your responsibility.
Can my relationship with the other person be saved?
It is possible to save a relationship that was codependent in nature. However, this will require both parties to put forth a substantial amount of effort to ensure that the new relationship is healthy and free from codependency. It’s also possible that one or both parties may feel that it is better to end the relationship permanently because the risk of codependence is too high. There is no right outcome for what happens next; the new relationship (or lack thereof) will vary between relationships.
Can I change the other person?
While it may seem tempting to want to change the other person, the only person that you can definitely change is yourself. Working with a mental health professional to improve some of your own behaviors will ensure that you can use your best judgment to form healthy relationships moving forward. Additionally, the other person in the relationship can only change themselves. If they want to change, then they will do what is necessary to make sure that they change. It’s not your responsibility to change them-this is an important yet difficult thing to keep in mind at all times.
Interested in learning more? Check out these books on codependency:
- Overcoming Codependency: Using Self-Help and Self-Care to Create and Foster Mindfulness and Balance
- Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
- Boundaries, Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
All of these books will help you overcome a codependent relationship. They will help you set boundaries and give you several tips and tricks to create more balanced relationships.
- Co-dependency. (n.d.)
- Morgan Jr, J. P. (1991, September). What is codependency?. Journal of clinical psychology, 47(5), 720–729
- Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence. (n.d.)
- Seltzer, L. F. Codependent or simply dependent: What’s the big difference? (2014, December 11)