Codependency is a popular buzz-word in modern culture. It is a term most often associated with the emotional and behavioral tendencies of family members and partners of alcoholics and other addicts. A clear concept of codependent relationships emerged in the 1930’s from Alcoholics Anonymous, and its subsequent popularity with a wider audience in the mid-80’s is often credited to Melody Beattie, author of “Codependent No More.”Beattie’s primary definition of a codependent person is “one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.” Attempts at controlling another can be with a kind of “super-love,” self-sacrifice and denial, modifying one’s own behavior, and many other means. The lines between where you end and the other person starts are blurred.
10 Signs of Codependent Relationships
Codependency can occur in all types of relationships, including with family members, friends, and partners. If you suspect you might be a codependent, check yourself out.
The following are common signs of codependent relationships:
1) The tendency to get into relationships with needy or emotionally unavailable people.
Alcoholics, drug addicts, domestic abusers, narcissists, and controlling, immature, or irresponsible people are examples of individuals incapable of the kind of emotional intimacy that is an integral part of a healthy relationship.
2) Needing to always be in a relationship.
You feel lost, frantic, or empty when you’re alone. That’s because your identity hinges on the experience of being with another person. Your sense of worth and purpose is derived, though not very well, from being attached to another person.
3) Having difficulty making decisions in a relationship.
This might mean needing the other person to make decisions for you and/or constantly second-guessing yourself. You have lost the ability to trust yourself and your instincts. You live in fear of being, saying, or doing the wrong thing.
4) Your feelings are tangled with the other person’s feelings.Every mood, outburst, or lack of emotional expression of this significant other person has a profound impact on your own emotional state. You may convert or deny your own feelings or have difficulty figuring out what they even are.
5) Communicating in the relationship is overly difficult.
You constantly feel misunderstood, your words are used against you, you’re often made to feel crazy, your opinion is criticized or discounted, you can never bring a complaint without ending up apologizing for a counter-complaint, if you assert yourself and speak your mind, there’s an argument, withdrawal of words or affection, or some other ramification … and yet you continually tolerate it.
6) Basing your feelings of self-worth on the other person’s approval.Just like it sounds. You take everything personally, and the other person’s displeasure derails you. You easily become obsessed with figuring out what to do or say to restore the peace, even if it’s at your own expense.
You help your partner at the expense of your own mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual well-being, or you support the continuation of someone’s dysfunctional behavior by interfering with or removing natural consequences to that behavior. Examples: you call in sick for your wife when she’s hungover; you give money to your adult son to pay a bill when he has gambled away his own; you lie about the bruises on your arms because you don’t want your boyfriend to get in trouble.
8) Giving way more than you’re getting.
Can you say “one-sided?” Healthy relationships are characterized by mutuality. You tend to bring everything you have to the table and make a lot of sacrifices for your family member, friend, or partner to make them happy, to get him or her to love you and to ensure that the relationship continues, but it isn’t reciprocated.
9) Feeling like you cannot live without this other person.
Codependency can have a sensation of life or death. In a healthy relationship, both persons are essentially whole people, but they complement each other in many ways. In codependent relationships, one or both partners feel incomplete, are obsessive, clingy, and perceive an inability to function without the other.
10) Feeling unable to leave.You tolerate a lot, whether it’s abuse, agonizing loneliness, excessive conflict, oppression, or lack of warmth and genuine caring. You recognize unhealthy behaviors in your partner, but stay in the relationship anyway. You are willing to continually sacrifice your own needs, happiness, and growth to try and appease or make this other person happy, even when it doesn’t seem to be working.
Codependence vs. Interdependence
God wired us for relationship. Genesis 2:18 states, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’” It’s not bad to need or want relationships, but we will be better adjusted and more content with the right kind. It’s normal to desire deep closeness with significant others and to be emotionally impacted by those we care about.
Instead of unhealthy codependence, however, what we should be after is healthy “interdependence.” Interdependent relationships are characterized by a relative balance of power between two people. No one controls or seeks to control the other. Both parties hold themselves responsible for their own feelings, actions, and what they bring to the table in the relationship. They are able to balance togetherness and separateness, and to think and feel independently. The relationship exists because both people want to be in it and are benefiting rather than being harmed.
If you think you might be struggling with codependency, a Christian counselor is waiting to help you gather insight and determine an appropriate course of action. Call Seattle Christian Counseling today and take a step toward healing and wholeness.
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/signs-of-a-codependent-relationship#1PsychCentral: https://psychcentral.com/lib/codependency-vs-interdependency/
Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie
“Together,” courtesy of Timothy Paul Smith, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holding Things Together,” courtesy of Michael Coghlan, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0; “Downcast,” courtesy of Pablo Varela, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Torn,” courtesy of Jiri Wagner, unsplash.com, CC0 License