Relationships are complex and it can be difficult to recognize when a relationship has become dysfunctional or codependent. Your friends and loved ones may have pointed out some things they have noticed that they find concerning and now you may be questioning if they are right. Getting help may sound like a good idea in theory, but you may be concerned whether treatment is right for you. Being armed with the right information can help you make the decision for you. Here is everything you need to know if you are codependent and are considering treatment.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is defined as a dysfunctional relationship in which one or both people enable the destructive behavior of their partner or loved one. Codependency is considered a learned behavior and can typically begin during the childhood years. You may have watched a parent or loved one in a codependent relationship in which they were excessively reliant on another person for stability and overall wellbeing and now believe that excessive dependence on another individual for your own wellbeing constitutes love and affection. Or you may have experienced a traumatic event in which you felt unsafe and you began to cling to others for a sense of security and even though the trauma has passed, you continue to seek that security in another person. At it’s most basic a codependent relationship involves one person who needs security from their partner and their partner needs to be needed.
Because these needs work in tandem, individuals in codependent relationships will do whatever it takes to maintain the relationship, even if it means turning a blind eye to addiction, mental or physical abuse, and behaviors and decisions that can cause damage to property, finances and the lives of others. You may be in a codependent relationship if your self-esteem and self-worth are tied to your partner or loved one or you alone are responsible for making them happy.
Symptoms of Codependency
Symptoms of codependency can look different depending on the relationship, but there are several core symptoms which include:
- Fear of abandonment or rejection
- Accepting blame even when not at fault
- Putting the feelings of others above self
- Inability to stand up for one’s self: Many people with codependency will try not to rock the boat and will avoid conflict, even if it means not standing up for themselves
- Self-worth and self-esteem dependent on the perceptions of others: Individuals who are codependent have an excessive need to please others, thus, when others express their displeasure with them, they may feel unworthy of love or affection
- Difficulty making decisions without the approval of one’s partner or loved one
- Excessive need for control
- An excessive need to be needed: Those who are codependent will work diligently to always be the one that others call and need. They are dependable to a fault.
- Difficulty communicating personal emotions: Individuals in codependent relationships may have difficulty identifying their own emotions separate from their partners as well as have trouble articulating how they are feeling
Codependency and Addiction
Codependency and addiction are often co-occurring struggles. In fact, the first studies involving Codependency were focused on the codependent relationship of alcoholics and their spouses. Many times a partner or loved one in the codependent relationship will struggle with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and their partner will enable their behavior and make excuses for them to keep them happy and prevent others from knowing the addiction exists.
In other cases, the codependent partner will not only enable their partners’ addiction and help to hide it from others but they will also aid in their destructive behavior, whether that means providing money for drugs and/or alcohol or actively purchasing the materials for them. This behavior feeds the needs of both people involved in the codependent relationship by providing the addict with the tools for their addiction and allowing the codependent partner to feel as though they have helped to keep their partner safe and secure
Treatment for codependent relationships generally involves individuals therapy for both partners involved, as well as couples therapy. If addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is a factor in the relationship, the partner with the addiction will be encouraged to engage in treatment for that as well. Individual therapy for Codependency involves a focus on self-esteem, self-efficacy, and relinquishment of the dependence on others in regards to self-worth. Therapy engagement will also focus on the establishment of boundaries and how to say no.
It’s important to note that even with therapy, some relationships do not last once the factor of codependence is removed from the situation. However, with new tools and behaviors, individuals who have engaged in therapy can combat negative thoughts and feelings of self-doubt when they emerge and avoid relying on prior codependent behaviors when negative situations arise.
The decision to seek treatment for a codependent relationship is not easy. It can be scary to think about changing your behavior and starting a new relationship relying solely on yourself. Thankfully there are resources out there to assist in the transition and healing. Are you or a loved one ready to seek help for a codependent relationship? If so, please give us a call at 123-456-7890 today. Our caring and compassionate staff are available 24/7.