If you have a codependent personality, you probably lack confidence in yourself and feel compelled to seek self-worth from other people. Codependency isn’t a diagnosable mental illness, but it is a prevalent problem often called “relationship addiction.” Though the urge to help and support loved ones is natural, codependency involves a harmful imbalance of power and responsibilities in a relationship.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency develops for various reasons, but most codependent people have experienced family issues that impair their ability to maintain relationships, such as a history of abuse or neglect.
Codependency is also a classic characteristic of families affected by substance use disorders. Typically, one partner will look after the other, which unintentionally allows the addictive behavior to get worse. Examples of codependency and addiction include covering up for someone’s unexplained absences from work or financially supporting them after they irresponsibly spend all their money on drugs and alcohol.
How to Recognize Codependency
Here are some of the telltale signs of codependent behavior.
- Unhealthy helping and giving
- Ignoring your well-being and devoting all your emotional resources to a partner or family member
- Problems trusting yourself or others
- Rooting your sense of self in another person
- Feeling obligated to live up to unreasonable expectations to earn praise or approval
- Believing you have the power to “fix” or “save” other people
- Sacrificing your needs and desires in favor of helping someone else
- Problems with confrontation and decision-making
- A willingness to do whatever it takes to keep relationships going
- Fear of losing partners
- Enabling people in your life to continue their harmful or self-destructive behavior
While codependency is a characteristic of many romantic relationships, it can also arise within a family dynamic. If any of the examples of codependency in this article seem familiar to you, try your best to take a step back and assess where you have been neglecting your needs and wants. Then, start making a conscious effort to devote more time to self-care activities. Allow yourself time and space to work on accomplishing your life goals.
Once you learn more about what problems have their roots in codependency, you can start setting boundaries and communicating with the other person about healthy changes you can make to create a more mutually beneficial relationship. A therapist who specializes in couples or family counseling can help with this. Be patient – since your codependent tendencies evolved over years of trying to cope with circumstances outside your control, it will take time to unlearn them.
Healing and Moving Forward With Confidence
You might fear that you will lose your purpose or identity if you work to end your codependent behaviors. However, getting to know yourself – who you are when you aren’t letting other people overshadow you – is a rewarding journey.
The secret to ending codependency is to start being assertive and speaking up for yourself. That might sound selfish, but it will give you much-needed balance in your life. People who love and care about you should respect your boundaries and understand your need to shield yourself from burnout and abuse. If not, that could be a sign that they’re unwilling to grow and change.
Hemet Valley Recovery Center is the Inland Empire’s only hospital-based addiction rehabilitation facility. We offer a full continuum of care designed for people of all ages and backgrounds, including access to medical-grade diagnostic services and dual-diagnosis treatment, all under one roof. Our knowledgeable professionals will help you address addiction and other health problems in a safe, clinical environment. Contact us to learn more about receiving a personalized recovery plan.