Codependence is a psychological term that describes an unhealthy or self defeating behaviour most commonly prevalent in family and friendships.
The Wikipedia definition is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addictions, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or underachievement.
Common signs of codependency may include having difficulty making decisions in our relationships, having difficulty identifying feelings and a lack of trust in oneself.
Research shows that there is a link between highly sensitive people and being codependent. For highly sensitive people, this article can highlight reasons why you may be feeling relationship stress or have struggled in your relationships.
The top 10 signs of codependency in relationships
1. Codependent people confuse love with the caretaking of, pity for and the needs of others.
They may have a tendency to be completely devoted to the needs of their partner. They tend to be excessively preoccupied and consumed with their partners emotional and personal needs. There is often a strong compulsion to fix or to save their partner.
2. Codependent people are generally very loving, kind, and caring people.
They gravitate towards working in the helping professions or caretaker professions and they are exceptional at their jobs. But, unfortunately, they can feel not quite good enough, despite all their giving, and feel an unwarranted sense of shame and worthlessness.
3. Codependent people can confuse intensity with intimacy.
Codependent relationships will be based on a lot of drama, chaos, breaking up and making up. Often a codependent person can feel incomplete or worthless and afraid to be alone if they perceive abandonment or if their partner threatens to leave. They can have a sort of craving for a person or a relationship. In a very real sense, it can be an addiction to someone.
4. Surprisingly, codependent people are actually biochemically codependent.
They could be named “love addicts” or “relationship addicts.” They often have unrealistic expectations for unconditional love and they can view their potential partners through a distorted sense of reality. They can also fantasise about their relationships and can feel angry and disappointed when the fantasy fades or doesn’t materialise.
5. Codependent people tend to attract partners who have a lot of personal issues.
They often attract partners with personality disorders, such as narcissists or sociopaths. They seek the type of person who they can take care of, someone who clearly needs their help. They can feel bored or helpless if they are not attending to someone’s crisis or needs in some way.
6. Codependent people will use their relationship as a cover for loneliness.
They often have an intense need to be loved. They attract partners who are manipulative, abandoning, controlling, self-centred and who have very little consideration for them.
7. Codependent people prefer giving to receiving.
Research shows they express confusion and frustration as to why some people don’t seem to care as much as they do. They can be very good at pretending that they are feeling good but are in fact not. They have learnt to suppress their emotions because their emotions are not considered the priority. This could result in repressing feelings with medication, food, drugs, or alcohol.
8. A codependent person may feel very responsible for another person’s thoughts, feelings, or lack of well-being.
They assume the responsibility to carry the world’s problems on their shoulders. They can often feel anxiety or guilt when someone else has a problem. They feel upset when other people don’t take their advice.
9. Codependent people will tend to try to stay with a partner even when facing serious problems like addiction, abuse, or infidelity.
A codependent enables this type of behaviour to continue and will often deny reality so that their fantasy can continue. In a very real way, the codependent agrees to work harder on their partners’ issues than their partners themselves.
10. Codependent people pride themselves on being loyal, obedient, caring, dedicated, and accommodating.
They try to anticipate everybody’s needs but secretly they can foster feelings of bitterness, resentment, sadness, and pain.
Many codependent people who were raised in dysfunctional families had to grow up fast in order to survive. They learned how to take care of their parents or siblings and to take responsibility for much within the family.
Therapy helps us to gain self-awareness about all these issues and to become willing to work on and change behavioural patterns.
It helps to create better communication, to nurture ourselves and to break the bonds of codependency and dysfunctional behaviours.
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