Codependency is something that is becoming more well-known and understood, although it is not at all a new concept. Codependent No More, the groundbreaking book by Melody Beattie, was written quite some time ago in 1987. Prior to this, the term was used solely by those in the psychiatry field. Lately, however, people are better understanding how codependency works and just how prevalent it it.
To define codependency is difficult because it is a highly amorphous, human condition. With that in mind, it’s important to recognize that codependency is a disease that often cannot be very effectively attacked head on. It is possible, however, to understand and overcome codependency, whether it be yours, or someone else’s.
Here are 8 Signs You Are In A Codependent Relationship
1. Defining codependency.
Although an understanding of codependence is difficult to condense into a definition, a good working definition of it might be, “Underdeveloped self esteem (dysfunctional boundaries) combined with an inappropriate caring for others (invading a boundary), and an inappropriate reliance on another’s response (having poor boundaries), in a negatively reinforcing loop.”
Codependents are, at heart, caring people, and there is nothing wrong with nurturing. The problem is that humans are meant to be interdependent and not codependent.
In Codependency for Dummies, Darlene Lancer defines it as someone “who can’t function from his or her innate self, and instead, organizes thinking and behavior around a substance, process, or other person(s).”
2. Understand the difference between codependency and interdependency.
Because we are human, we are all by our nature interdependent. Many tend to confuse interdependent with codependent. While there are many definitions for codependency, they all add up to “not interdependent.”
3. The codependent may be addicted to another person.
A codependent is chronically uncentered and so they create a center within a person and that is where they put their focus. In this interpersonal codependency, the codependent has become so elaborately enmeshed in the other person that the sense of self – personal identity – is severely restricted, crowded out by that other person’s identity and problems.
4. Codependents are often drawn to things beyond relationships.
Codependents are often drawn to more than just the relationship. Sadly, they often have a tendency to be drawn to chemicals (alcohol or drugs, primarily) or things – money, food, sexuality, work. They struggle relentlessly to fill the great emotional void within themselves.
5. A lack of boundaries.
Codependents tend to display a lack of healthy boundaries. A codependent can usually sway or be swayed easily.
6. Even aggressive codependents may have a ‘doormat’ side to their personality.
In attempting to show respect, the codependent may feel a need to be unhealthily “submissive.” The codependent can often be often wishy-washy or double-minded. They often agree to things they actually disagree with. They can be like a chameleon. The codependent may have trouble holding onto their own ideas or opinions when others disagree. They may not even know what they really think or feel.
7. Codependents compulsively seek acceptance.
A codependent will often hide their truth to avoid disapproval. They also often find themselves explaining and even over-explaining their issues to someone, or providing a running commentary when it’s really unnecessary. They often explain things to themselves in their minds when unnecessary. Even manipulative actions are often done in the open in order to seek acclaim or affirmation.
8. More signs of codependency:
- Walk on egg shells: living defensively (tiptoeing in your own house).
- Cause others to “walk on eggshells” around you.
- Feel afraid to confront others: avoiding conflict.
- Make poor or wrong decisions: accommodating others (eg: in your finances).
- Tell little white lies: to avoid anger and conflict with others.
- Feel angry with yourself: letting others get their way?
- Blame yourself: for the dissatisfaction of others.
- Overprotect unwanted behaviors: eg, concealing alcohol or drug use of others.
- Get hurt emotionally: by the others behavior.
- Feel used: but consider that you must make that as a sacrifice.
- Unable to say “no.”
- Cannot stop helping (eg: until the other person leaves town).
- Tend to over-emote at people without realizing it, invading a boundary, and setting up a negative-feedback loop; you over-emote, they mentally back away, you misinterpret as inadequate, and “try harder,” over-emoting more.
- Find it difficult to set boundaries on the other person’s behavior.
- Feel responsible for the lack of success or ambition of others.
- Find it difficult or impossible to end an obviously dysfunctional relationship.
- Feel as if you need to do more, be more, and generally feel dissatisfied with your inability to change or control the other persons happiness.
- Give too much information (as a symptom of poor boundary formation); you may have been accused of giving “too much information.”
- Hinge on the agreement or affirmation of another.
If you or someone you love is suffering with codependency, consider attending a Codependents Anonymous meeting for more information and support.
Resources in this article are from many sources including: http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Are-Codependent and http://www.wikihow.com/Understand-Codependency.