Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Codependency is a psychological concept that refers to people who feel extreme amounts of dependence on certain loved ones in their lives, and who feel responsible for the feelings and actions of those loved ones.
Signs of Codependency
What does codependency actually look like? Some of the things that have been found to correlate with codependency include:
- A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
- An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
- A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
- Poor communications
- A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
- An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
- Difficulty making decisions
- An extreme need for approval and recognition
- Fear of being abandoned or alone
- A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
- A compelling need to control others
- Lack of trust in self and/or others
- Difficulty identifying feelings
- Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
- Problems with intimacy/boundaries
- Chronic anger
How is Codependency Treated?
Because codependency is usually rooted in a person’s childhood, treatment often involves exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavior patterns. Treatment includes education, and individual and group therapy through which co-dependents rediscover themselves and identify self-defeating behavior patterns. Treatment also focuses on helping clients getting in touch with feelings that have been buried during childhood and on reconstructing family dynamics. The goal is to allow them to experience their full range of feelings again.