What Are The Signs Of Codependency?
The term codependency refers to a form of unhealthy relationship that can exist between people who are close. Often, the term is primarily used to describe people who have an addict in the family. However, today, it includes all kinds of relationships that are dysfunctional.
Codependency affects siblings, parents, spouses, friends, and even co-workers. It isn’t a rare problem. In fact, around half of all people in the United States have moderate-to-serious codependency issues. As many as 90 percent of people have low-level codependence. It’s clear the problem is widespread.
Recognizing the signs of codependency is key to avoiding the problem. Here, we look at those signs so you can take steps to avoid them in your relationships.
What Is The Definition Of Codependency?
Originally, “codependent” was a term that described a person living with someone who was struggling with addiction. However, today, codependence characterizes any relationship that includes an extreme dependence on another person. Codependency is a term still applied to those families that have issues with substance abuse. However, it is also used to describe other situations. It often refers to people who are so busy caring for someone else that they do not care for themselves. People who are codependent feel that they have responsibility for their loved ones’ actions and feelings.
What Are The Signs Of Being Codependent?
Some signs of codependency include:
- Low emotional expression
- Low self-esteem
- Familial dysfunction
- Low narcissism levels
- Difficulty saying no
- Lack of boundaries
- Compulsion to care for others
- Emotional reactivity
- Fixation on mistakes
- Need to control others
- Need for approval
- Denial of own thoughts, feelings, and needs
- Confusion of pity for love
- Intimacy issues
- Fear of being abandoned
Someone who exhibits some of these signs may not be codependent. However, anyone who has many of these indicators could have a problem with codependency.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these signs.
People who are codependent often have low self-esteem. They feel they are not good enough and often compare themselves unfavorably to others. Many people who seem arrogant are frequently hiding behind a mask. Inside, they feel inadequate and unlovable. Often, they also feel shame and guilt.
While everyone wants to make the people they care about happy, codependents become anxious at the idea of displeasing anyone. They, therefore, sacrifice all their needs, so they can accommodate others. Part of the problem is they put everyone else before themselves. While feeling sympathy and empathy is normal, codependents feel a compulsion to help. They often feel rejected when someone refuses their help.
Lack Of Boundaries
Boundaries are like an invisible line between others and you. It separates what is someone else’s from what is yours. That applies to everything from your belongings to your body and from your money to your feelings. Codependents often have weak and blurry boundaries. They take responsibility for the problems and feelings of others.
Codependents derive security and safety from having control. While everyone needs an element of control in his or her life, codependents struggle to share feelings and take risks. They also try to control everyone around them. They need everyone around them to behave in a particular way so they feel safe. They use caretaking and people-pleasing as ways of manipulating and controlling people.
One major problem faced by codependents is that they struggle to communicate their own needs, feelings, and thoughts. They struggle to tell the truth for fear of upsetting others. Therefore, communication is usually confusing and dishonest.
Codependents frequently think about their relationships and other people. They also develop obsessions about mistakes they think they have made. They often fantasize about the way they want life to be. This keeps them in denial and prevents them from really living life to the fullest.
Codependents require others around them, so they can feel good about themselves. They fear abandonment and rejection. They fear they will never function alone. Often, they need to have a partner since they feel lonely or depressed when alone. They also struggle to end relationships, even if those relationships are abusive or painful.
Living In Denial
Many people are in denial that they have a codependency at all. Often, they think somebody else is the problem and avoid the issues. Codependents deny their needs and feelings. They focus instead on the feelings and needs of others rather than their own. They deny they need their own autonomy and space. While codependents are needy, they often act very self-sufficiently when they need help.
Intimacy Problems And Difficult Emotions
Codependents struggle to be close and open with those around them. They fear being rejected, abandoned or judged. Being codependent results in stress and painful emotions. Low self-esteem and shame creates fear and anxiety about abandonment, rejection, and being judged. Fearing failure and mistakes often lead to resentment, anger, despair, hopelessness, and depression.
Is Codependency In A Relationship Really So Bad?
Not every codependent relationship is a sour one. In fact, all healthy relationships have an element of codependency. However, anyone who seeks out, maintains, and feeds off unhealthy relationships may have a dependency problem.
Codependency helps nobody. Not only is it bad for the codependent, but it is also bad for his or her loved one. Although codependents mean well, their behavior allows needy individuals to pursue destructive courses. Eventually, they begin to depend on the codependent. And, with the increased reliance, the codependent’s problem worsens. The pair becomes trapped in an endless cycle it cannot break. This can lead to both parties becoming resentful and feeling trapped. The result is a destructive relationship.
The good news is that once you have acknowledged your codependency, you can treat it successfully. There are several treatments you can receive. These include:
- Counseling – Mental health professionals can help you to rebuild your own self-awareness. You can start to realize the reasons why you need to rely on others so much.
- Couples therapy – When couples have a codependent relationship, couples therapy could help or save it.
- Reconnection with family and friends – Codependent relationships lead to greater isolation. This can cause you to lose yourself. One way to help yourself to overcome codependency is to reconnect with those who you’ve distanced yourself from. Rebuilding relationships will help to restore your sense of self.
- Take some time for yourself – Whatever you enjoyed in the past, it is time to reconnect with it. Go back to doing the things you used to enjoy. Explore new activities you have always wanted to try. Take time for yourself.
- Seek treatment – Getting help for codependency is an excellent solution. Professionals can help you to get back on track and to form healthy relationships.
Seeking Professional Help
SOBA Behavioral Health can offer outstanding mental health treatment for young people struggling with codependency. With a team of experts in the field, we can offer a range of effective treatments. With our experience and guidance, we can get you back on the path to a healthy relationship. Our intensive treatment program will help you find new ways to address your problems. You will soon be feeling better and on the road to good mental health.