Codependency is defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.” In a codependent relationship, one or both parties may be dependent on the other for fulfillment, happiness, self-worth, and even their very sense of identity.
Some potential signs of a codependent relationship include:
- Support for a partner that compromises the other partner’s personal health and well-being
- Ignoring harmful or dangerous behaviors in the other partner
- Inability to be happy or fulfilled in other areas of life without the partner
- Feedback from close friends suggesting extreme dependency on the other partner
- Profound anxiety within the relationship
- Attempts either to change the partner or to change him / herself to meet the partner’s preferences and desires
One of the signs of codependency is a lack of self care. Some codependents may even feel guilty when they take care of themselves or take measures to promote their own well-being. As a caretaker, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of codependency and to remember the importance of self care. Many caretakers are particularly susceptible to codependency and may neglect their own well-being as a result.
Are You at Risk of Codependency?
In a sense, codependency is not unlike addiction, except rather than a dangerous drug or other substance, the individual is addicted to the presence, involvement, and approval of a specific person. Some people may be more likely to develop codependent relationships.
Codependents may share some or all of the following personality / character traits:
- Lack of ability to set reasonable boundaries
- Lack of self-worth
- A tendency to be a “people pleaser”
- Poor communication skills
- Fear of being alone
- Focus on what other people think
- Denial of the reality of a codependent relationship
- Denial of personal needs and feelings
- Obsessive personality
Recovering from Codependency
Some ways to begin the recovery process:
- Read about codependency
- Talk with a professional
- Relax and reduce stress
- Attend a 12 Step meeting such as Codependents Anonymous
- Begin to pursue and develop your own hobbies and interests
- Focus on accepting yourself
- Practice being honest about your needs and feelings
Don’t be afraid to ask for help; abandon the idea that you need to be completely independent and self-reliant. Remind yourself that it is important to take care of yourself and to have fun. More than that, you need to remember that you are only responsible for your own choices and behaviors.
Codependency is ultimately unhealthy and dangerous. Not only does it hurt you, but it can also be harmful to your relationship, demonstrating a lack of respect for the autonomy of your loved one. Remember that taking care of yourself not only gives you a better life, but it also enables you to be a better caretaker. You do not have to be solely responsible for your loved one’s happiness. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own.
For more information about our behavioral health services designed to help clients regain life balance and independence, call Therapeutic Solutions in today at (530) 899-3150.