Codependency is sometimes better understood as ‘relationship addiction’.
This affects your behavioral and emotional patterns, preventing the individual from developing a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
Codependency originally described partners of people with addictions, as their unhealthy lifestyles allowed the person to continue with addictive behaviors.
Now the term has broadened to cover people who continue with abusive, emotionally damaging, or one-sided relationships.
These connections don’t need to be romantic, as they can include family, career, or friend relationships too.
Codependency can be damaging and frustrating, but fortunately, you can take some steps that can eventually help you stop being codependent.
You’ll learn more about codependency in this post, including some of the signs, why it may occur, and how to stop being codependent.
Codependent people tend to have good intentions.
They want to care for another who is finding life difficult, but their actions can become unhealthy and obsessive.
Some of these signs are:
- Wanting to be needed. Their efforts to save, rescue, or support their partner make the other person rely on them even more. Giving gives the codependent person gratification, provided that they are recognized for their actions.
- Feeling imprisoned and becoming resentful. Their actions might backfire, but they might feel powerless, and incapable of breaking away from the connection or adapting their actions.
- The relationship breaks down as time continues. Instead of comfort and love, this process often involves anxious feelings, pity, and anger.
Some people find that most of their relationships are codependent. These individuals look for romantic connections or friendships in which they are urged to act like a martyr.
They may use all of their time and energy to look after the other, only losing sight of the things that they value.
Why Does Codependency Happen?
Codependency usually happens in dysfunctional families. Members may go through angry, painful, or frightening feelings that are ignored or disregarded.
Some of the elements that can lead to this dysfunction are:
- Certain addictive behaviors, including alcohol, drugs, relationships, food, sex, work, gambling
- Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Long-term mental or physical illnesses
If any problems happen inside the family, they are never dealt with. Codependent people will never draw attention to these issues.
Members will suppress their feelings and neglect their own needs to care for the person that is in need.
All of the strength, energy, and focus is placed on the person who is addicted, ill, or abusive.
The codependent person tends to forgo all of their requirements to look after the member that is struggling.
As a result, they will go through emotional, social, and physical repercussions as they neglect their safety, welfare, and well-being.
Spotting Codependent Relationships
Here are some questions you can ask yourself that can help you identify codependent actions.
- Do you feel obliged to help others?
- Is it hard for you to ask for help?
- Are you scared to let circumstances occur, or allow others to be who they are naturally?
- Do you attempt to gain control over events or the way others act?
- Do you ever feel embarrassed about who you are?
- Do you attempt to exert power over circumstances and others through blame, threats, manipulation, advice-giving, helplessness, constraint, or control?
- Do you feel obliged to help others with their issues, like giving advice?
- Do you tend to hide your true emotions?
- Do you avoid talking about your difficulties or issues?
- Do you often blame yourself?
- Do you put yourself down?
- Do you push painful feelings or thoughts away?
If you answer yes to several of these questions, this might indicate that you engage in codependent behaviors.
How To Stop Codependency?
Some people can stop codependent behaviors on their own, but others might require help.
Understanding what codependency entails and the damage it can do may be enough for some people to change.
The following steps can help you beat codependency patterns:
Identify Healthy Relationship Signs
You will need to know what a healthy relationship looks like before you can break out of codependent patterns.
Signs of a loving, healthy connection are honesty, showing affection, and equality. Everyone should maintain their own independence.
Good relationships involve supporting its members, while still respecting everyone’s boundaries.
Boundaries are limits that determine what you are willing and unwilling to accept.
Take some time to think about the things that are and aren’t acceptable to you.
You can listen to the other individual, but don’t let their issues take over your life.
Find ways to decline any demands that don’t respect your limits. Create the boundaries, then practice making them a reality.
Take Care Of Your Wellbeing
People that engage in codependent patterns tend to have low self-esteem. Taking the steps to value and respect yourself can help you stop being codependent.
Think about the things that make you happy, as well as the type of life that you would like to live.
Take the time to do hobbies or activities that you like. Try to replace negative self-talk with positive, practical phrases.
Make sure that you are taking care of your wellbeing by prioritizing your self-care, nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Codependency may require professional help. Talk therapy is one method that may help some deal with their codependent patterns.
Here are some different kinds of therapy and how they may help:
Group therapy is available in many different types that may aid codependent individuals.
The group space allows people to create healthy connections in a safe environment.
Group therapy methods range from cognitive behavioral therapy to the 12-step model. The aim is to improve self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional expression.
Family therapy looks at dysfunctional family patterns. Members will learn how to identify their damaging patterns so they can better their relationships.
The goal is to improve communication and discuss issues that might not have been talked about before.
Cognitive therapy aims to work on the thoughts that lead to unhealthy relationship behaviors.
Meetings might involve learning how to deal with illogical thoughts and uncomfortable feelings.
The aim is to have the individual take a greater level of responsibility for their behavior.
This might involve looking into their childhood or helping them be comfortable with their emotions once more.
The Bottom Line
If you think that you might be codependent, or engaging in codependent behaviors in your relationship, don’t wait to seek help.
You can talk to your doctor or contact a qualified mental health expert about stopping codependency.
If you are wary about attending group or one-on-one sessions, you can look at online therapy.
This allows you to speak to someone from your own home through video chat or messaging.