Codependency is a behavioral condition in which an individual forms unhealthy, emotionally destructive relationships. Codependent relationships are characterized by dysfunctional behavioral patterns wherein the codependent partner is reliant on their significant other for feelings of worth and self-esteem. Typically, in an effort to gain their significant other's approval, the codependent partner enables destructive behaviors in their significant other, such as immaturity, underachievement and even abuse.
The roots of codependency are often sewn in childhood. Codependents often come from dysfunctional families in which the child's needs are not met by the parents. Often, future codependents are raised by neglectful parents, some of whom may struggle with mental illnesses of their own. It is not uncommon for abuse to be present in a codependent's history. As these children grow up, they emulate the relationship dynamics they witnessed as children, and play them out in their own lives, leading to one-sided relationships where the codependent consistently puts their partner's needs ahead of their own, to their own psychological detriment.
As codependents do not know how to form healthy relationships, they often report feelings of immense dissatisfaction in their personal lives. Until codependents learn to address their relationship patterns, it is unlikely that they will be able to form healthy, mutually fulfilling relationships.
Codependents, feeling themselves responsible for the well-being of others, are usually known to put the needs of others before their own. Typical signs and behaviors of codependent people include:
Codependents, having come from families in which their needs as children were not prioritized, tend to associate love with constant sacrifice in favor of their partners. This, of course, leads to unhealthy, unbalanced relationships, in which their partners take advantage of the codependent's need to please. As the relationship becomes increasingly dysfunctional, the codependent becomes more and more agitated, as their partner is unable to meet their needs and the codependent is unable to ask to have their needs met. While individual codependent relationships may eventually reach a breaking point and dissolve, the codependent typically repeats this pattern in their future relationships, beginning the cycle again with every new partner.
If you believe you suffer from codependency, you likely feel like you've never gotten the love or respect you deserve. You've gone your whole life trying to please your partners in the hope that your sacrifices will be recognized, only to be inevitably disappointed each time around. This can be an infuriating and overwhelming feeling, and you may start to have thoughts that you are somehow unlovable or broken.
It is important to note that you are not unlovable or broken, and that recovery from codependency is possible. As children, we learn how to structure our relationships by watching the adults around us. If one is raised in a home with aloof, disinterested, neglectful or even abusive parents, it stands to reason that these children will grow up to have dysfunctional ideas of what a healthy relationship looks like. The children of these families will seek out unhealthy relationships in a bid to play out their childhood family dynamics, with each new partner acting as a surrogate for the indifferent parent. When these relationships fail, the codependent blames themselves, and subconsciously seeks out similar partners in a bid to repeat the cycle.
Unfortunately, these attempts to win the affection and approval of the surrogate parent almost invariably fail. In order to form the healthy relationships that they desperately crave, the codependent must instead learn to acknowledge their dysfunctional relationship patterns, and seek out partners who are capable of having healthy, mutually beneficial relationships.
At Overcomers Counseling, our codependency counselors are trained to help you recognize and break these thought and action patterns that have kept you in miserable relationships for years. Through therapy, we can help you address the fears behind forming healthy intimate relationships. If you're ready to get started on your journey out of codependency, send us a message and set up a consultation with us. You can feel confident in your choice of Colorado Springs Overcomers. Call 719-345-2424