Having excessive emotional or psychological reliance on another person is considered being involved in a codependent relationship. Codependency in a relationship is unhealthy and extremely toxic to both parties involved. It affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy and mutual relationship and creates a dynamic where typically one or both persons depends on the other to take care of them emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, and other.
Codependency is often referred to as “relationship addiction” and mirrors drug addiction in many ways. People have a very difficult time letting go of this relationship, rely on it for satisfaction and happiness, and continue involvement regardless of the negative effects. Over time, it pushes individuals further away from independence and self-awareness and can ruin your relationship with yourself and others with the rise of resentment, depression, feelings of unworthiness, and in serious cases- physical harm.
Are you In a Codependent Relationship?
Codependency often forms unintentionally, and you may not even be aware that you are in a relationship of this category. If the following questions are true to one or more of your relationships, it’s likely you are codependent:
- Does your sense of purpose revolve around making sacrifices to satisfy someone else?
- Is it difficult to so no when another individual makes demands?
- Do you cover up for another’s poor behavior such as lying, drug, and alcohol use even when you feel you shouldn’t?
- Do you care more about what another person thinks of you than you do yourself?
- Do you often feel trapped in a relationship?
- Do you depend heavily on another to support you emotionally, financially, or physically?
- Do you keep quiet when you want to speak out?
- Do you fear you would be in an emotional/financial/mental trouble if a certain person were to stop supporting you?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself if you think you may be in a codependent relationship, and if they are true to you, you may want to reevaluate your partnership and focus on gaining more independence.
Why are Codependent Relationships Unhealthy?
Those involved in a codependent relationship make this partnership the focus of their life. Some of the ways these relationships can negatively affect us include:
Fear of speaking up: In this kind of relationship you may be less likely to speak up or defend what you believe out of fear of losing the other person involved. Bottling up your emotions for extended periods of time can lead to anxiety, depression, and a lost sense of self.
Personal Neglect: When you’re so focused on making sure everything is okay for the other person, it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs and wants. For short periods of time, it’s okay to focus more on another person, but when this becomes long term, resentment may build up when you aren’t being personally satisfied. This often leads to lashing out and violent fights when emotions build up to a point of exploding. It also puts your own physical and mental health at risk if you aren’t taking good care of yourself. The same goes for the dependee- who may be causing the person who they depend on to lack self-care.
Lack of Solitude: Whether you’re the dependent or the dependee, when in a codependent relationship many find it difficult to be alone. They focus so much time and energy on the other involved in the relationship that solitude can be a source of anxiety. Whether you’re worried about the other’s well-being, or just don’t know how to be alone anymore, it’s extremely unhealthy to lose sight of ourselves. True power and strength is the ability to tend and care for ourselves.
Refusing Help: Once deeply involved in the relationship, it can be extremely hard to let go. If others are noticing this relationship is harmful to you, they may suggest you back off. Out of fear of being without the other person, many will deny the relationships harmful effects and continue being involved. Problems arise even more when one of the parties involved decides they no longer want to take part, and the other person is left not knowing how to live their life without them. That’s why maintaining independence within any relationship is crucial to a good mental state.
Recovering From Codependency
Treatment can vary, but mostly includes some form of psychotherapy and deep exploration of one’s past. Learning to understand and come to terms with difficult childhood experiences or abusive relationships can help understand why we are codependent as adults. Getting to the root of the problem and accepting old feelings of hurt, loss, anger, and resentment will allow for reconstruction of current relationships with more beneficial dynamics. Talk therapy and other treatments will help you
- Nurture your own wants and needs instead of relying on someone else
- Gain confidence in your ability to be on your own and see yourself as a strong and powerful individual
- Learn to recognize and say no to abusive and negative relationships and behaviors. In turn, this will offer to opportunity to welcome new relationships that benefit and support you.
- Learn to respond instead of reacting– a powerful tool to help control your emotions and relationships by strengthening open communication and taming emotional outbursts.
When you overcome a codependent relationship, you will feel more comfortable walking away from relationships and situations that don’t serve you well. You will no longer feel obligated to take care of someone who brings nothing to the table, nor will you feel like you can’t survive without the help of another person. The best way to avoid codependent relationships is to seek proper help to gain the coping skills to leave current ones and say no to future ones.
How Wayside House Helps With Codependency
Recovering from drug and alcohol abuse is an important step in the process, but it doesn’t stop there. Wayside House is a rehab just for women, that not only starts you on the path to addiction recovery, but also on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Our women’s only program offers women the opportunity to explore the behaviors and thought processes that have impacted your overall well-being. We also offer therapies and treatments that help build confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. You’ll learn to find and use your voice, and you’ll find a supportive, compassionate and welcoming community where you’ll continue to grow. Call Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.