Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.
It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. (this is not limited to romantic relationships---this can be friendships, work, familiy, etc)
Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.
This can be as simple as seeing family members mirror the emotional responses of others as a form of empathy, therefore not being able to truly connect to their own emotional experiences. Or even being forced (or shamed) into abandoning their emotions in order to soothe someone else in their emotional experience.
"I need you to be sad along with me so I know its okay to be sad"
"I need you to be happy with me so that I can continue to feel happy"
Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves.”
"I no longer feel good about my decision because your response does not reinforce how I felt"
"In order for me to feel better about myself, I need you to feel positive about me too"
These may come as fluctuations of self confidence and uncertainty that battle with the cognitive "knowing better" part of you... and those fluctuations may also occur in your physical body as sensations before they are actualized into thoughts, beliefs, or statements.
The body is the brain in a way where it responds in similar ways that it has in the past during disappointment, sadness, perceived rejection, or loss..... The way in which we cognitively processed that experience and narrated it becomes a truth that is ingrained into our bodies as an emotional memory that continues on its loop unless interrupted or reshaped.
While inherently, there is nothing wrong with desiring to have your feelings and emotional experiences reflected back to you in someone's actions, it can become a challenge when it changes who you are, who you desire to be, and how you show up as its aligned to your beliefs and preferences.
Gaining emotional autonomy can allow you to honor your feelings, while also allowing others to honor their feelings without the need to abandon your own emotional experience with compassion for all involved.
Characteristics Of Co-Dependent People Are:
An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
An extreme need for approval and recognition
A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
A compelling need to control others
Lack of trust in self and/or others
Fear of being abandoned or alone
Difficulty identifying feelings
Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
Problems with intimacy/boundaries
Difficulty making decisions
What relationships or circumstances have caused you to be dependent on someone's views or reactions to you?
Which characterstics do you recognize in yourself now and in the past?
How would you describe interdependence in light of what you have learned in this post? What could that look like within relationships?