To Understand Codependency; Post 1

The term codependency is heard often when describing an unhealthy relationship. But what is codependency and how can we move towards a healthier way of interacting with our loved ones? This series on codependent relationships will attempt to answer those questions.

We first learned of codependency in addiction literature. It referred to the unhealthy dynamic that exists between the addict and their partner/loved one, in which there was a taking care of to the point of enabling or enmeshment. The codependent partner essentially becomes centered around his/her loved ones unhealthy behaviours and a need to try and control the behaviour develops. It is a reactive position, and one that is often futile as it involves constantly sacrificing your own needs for that of another person (where addiction is fighting for primacy.)

In today’s psychological literature, the term codependency has grown to include patterns of behaviour in which either partner (or both) are overly dependent on another person in order to feel good about themselves. It is an unhealthy dynamic as there exists the seeking the approval of another person in order to have a sense of self-worth. It can occur between partners, but it can also exist with parents and children or between friends or siblings.

You may be in a codependent relationship if:

  • you find yourself always needing to fix or rescue the other.
  • you find yourself nagging, wanting to control, or enabling the other’s behaviours.
  • you have trouble putting boundaries into place.
  • you have trouble being assertive to those boundaries and lean into wanting to please the other.
  • you focus on someone else’s issues, leading you to ignore your own needs.
  • when you are with that person, you often feel anxious or fretful.
  • you struggle with guilt when it comes to the other.
  • you feel responsible for them and will often feel frustrated and annoyed.
  • you find yourself making excuses for the other.
  • you find yourself minimizing the impact of that relationship on you.
  • you feel very tied to them because you don’t want to hurt them.

This begin our short series on codependent relationships. Tomorrow’s post will begin to explore ways that we can move to a healthier place in ourselves; followed by creating space for healthier relationships.

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