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Understanding Codependency: Signs and Symptoms
The term “codependent” is used frequently in relationships, but what does it really mean? Is it something to be concerned about? In this article, we will explore the signs and symptoms of codependency and provide resources for those who may be struggling.
What is Codependency?
Codependency refers to a relationship dynamic in which one person prioritizes the needs and wants of another person over their own, to an unhealthy extent. It often involves enabling behaviors and can be emotionally damaging for both parties. It’s important to note that codependency is not an official diagnosis but rather a term used to describe certain relationship patterns.
8 Signs You May be in a Codependent Relationship
Codependent relationships can be challenging and detrimental to an individual’s emotional well-being. Codependency is a pattern of behaviors that involve excessive caretaking, controlling, and preoccupation with people and things outside of oneself. According to Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, a consultant, educator, and author of numerous books, including Understanding Codependency, codependent personalities often experience difficulty making decisions, communicating, and identifying their feelings. Here are eight common signs of codependency:
- Difficulty making decisions in a relationship: Codependent individuals often struggle with making decisions that are in their best interest, frequently prioritizing the needs of others over their own.
- Difficulty identifying your feelings: Codependency often involves a lack of self-awareness and difficulty identifying one’s own feelings and needs.
- Difficulty communicating in a relationship: Codependent individuals may struggle to communicate their feelings and needs effectively, leading to misunderstandings and unresolved conflicts.
- Valuing the approval of others more than valuing yourself: Codependent individuals often prioritize the opinions and approval of others over their own needs and desires.
- Lacking trust in yourself and having poor self-esteem: Codependency often leads to low self-esteem and a lack of trust in oneself, resulting in a reliance on external validation and approval.
- Having fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval: Codependent individuals may fear being abandoned or rejected and develop an obsessive need for approval and validation from others.
- Having an unhealthy dependence on relationships, even at your own cost: Codependent individuals may feel a strong need for relationships and have difficulty setting boundaries, even when it comes at their own expense.
- Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others: Codependent individuals may feel overly responsible for the actions and well-being of others, often at the expense of their own emotional health and well-being.
If you identify with any of these signs, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional to address and overcome codependency patterns.
Resources for Support:
If you believe you may be struggling with codependency, there are resources available to help. Therapy can be a helpful tool in understanding and changing relationship patterns. Additionally, support groups such as Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) can provide a sense of community and understanding. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Is Codependent Relationship Really That Bad?
According to experts, any healthy relationship will have some codependency and give and take. But if you seek out, maintain, or even feed off relationships that are not fulfilling or healthy, you could be codependent. Once codependency is identified, it can be successfully treated.
Treatment Options for Codependency:
- Pursue counseling: Seeking the help of a mental health provider is crucial to rebuild your sense of self and identify why you rely so much on the other person. Codependency results from a failure to set personal boundaries, and learning how to do that is essential to healing.
- Consider couples therapy: Couples therapy can be a helpful tool to reduce codependency and improve the relationship.
- Reconnect with friends and family: Isolation can fuel the loss of self, so it’s important to reach out to friends and family and start rebuilding those relationships.
- Carve out “you time”: Returning to activities that you enjoyed before becoming enmeshed in the relationship is important for regaining a sense of self.
- Seek treatment for substance abuse: Substance abuse can fuel codependency, so seeking treatment for substance abuse can be an essential part of treatment. Resources like Al-Anon can also be helpful for family members affected by substance abuse.
While some level of codependency is normal in healthy relationships, excessive codependency can be problematic. Identifying and treating codependency can lead to healthier relationships and improved emotional well-being. Seeking the help of a mental health provider and considering couples therapy are two effective methods to treat codependency.