What Is Codependency?

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects one’s ability to maintain healthy relationships. While it’s not recognized as a diagnosable illness, codependency is extremely common and is often referred to as “relationship addiction.”

Someone with a codependent personality typically has a bad relationship with themselves. Therefore, they feel compelled to receive self-worth from external sources like other people.


Reasons Someone Might Be Codependent

There are a variety of reasons that a person could be codependent, but the causes usually stem from their past.

If someone has a codependent personality, they may have experienced one or more of the following relationship or family issues. These are just a few risk factors of codependent behavior:

  • A strained relationship with one’s parents
  • History of abuse
  • Being ignored from a young age
  • Having family members with codependent behavior

Every case is different, but a majority of people with codependency have experienced issues within their immediate family in the past that have affected their ability to maintain relationships in the present and future.


Signs of Codependency

If you think that you or someone you know may have a codependent personality, it’s important to first know the signs.

Here are some of the signs and behaviors that people with codependency might experience:

  1. Trust issues with oneself and others
  2. The desire to fix/save people and feel needed
  3. Putting others’ needs before their own
  4. Problems with confrontation and decision-making
  5. Doing anything it takes to keep relationships afloat
  6. Fear of losing partners and other relationships


What Are Some Examples of Codependency?

Codependency can happen in any type of relationship, romantic or not. Below are some examples of codependent situations and relationships.


Example 1: A woman is married to a man who is an alcoholic. She always puts his needs before her own and thinks she can help him become sober through showing him affection. She is unknowingly enabling him by giving him everything he requests and covering up for his destructive behavior. She blames a lot of the relationship’s issues on herself and will do anything it takes, including sacrificing her own mental well-being, to make it work.


Example 2: A new community college graduate has the opportunity to pursue her dream job in a different part of the country. Because of her mother’s mental health issues, she chose to stay home for college and take care of her. She would like to put her career and her needs first, but chooses to take a smaller local job instead so that she won’t have to risk disappointing her mother or telling her that she is leaving. She thinks her mother needs her, so she puts her own needs aside.


Example 3: In another scenario, a private college graduate moves back home. He is not trying to get a job in his field or pursue any career. Instead, he stays in his parents’ house most of the day and plays video games. He says he will try to find a new place to live soon, but says that he doesn’t have any money. Therefore, the parents will continue to financially support the new graduate as he still doesn’t make any effort to move forward with his life.


How to Deal With A Codependent Relationship

As you can see from the examples above, codependent relationships can come in many forms.

If the scenarios above are similar to something you have experienced, you may have been involved in a codependent relationship. If you find yourself in a situation like this, try your best to maintain your own space and alone time. Try to learn about what codependency can cause, then communicate with the other party about how you can both work to navigate the relationship in a healthy and productive way.


Best Ways to Treat Codependency

While codependency can be treated on one’s own or under some sort of therapeutic or medical supervision, it’s recommended that someone who is codependent has a support system as they start to get to the root of the problem.

To rid oneself of codependent thoughts and behaviors, you must first be educated about the topic. There are plenty of magazines, articles, and other reading materials about the topic that can help you understand your own tendencies.

Other habit changes that can help influence positive change include staying sober (and encouraging your partner to), engaging in talk therapy (group, family, or individual), and putting oneself in a new environment that doesn’t require caretaking for someone else.

To learn more about codependent personalities, or to get more options regarding treatment for this condition, contact our team of mental health professionals & read more about codependency, or contacting us at 267.209.7312.