Codependency is a condition that results in a dysfunctional relationship between the codependent and other people. A codependent is addicted to helping someone. They need to be needed. This addiction is sometimes so strong, the codependent will cause the other person to continue to be needy. This behavior is called enabling.
The enabler will purposefully overlook someone abusing a child, will call in sick for someone suffering from addiction, will put roadblocks to prevent their child from becoming independent, or even keep a sick family member from getting the treatment that would make them well. These are behaviors common to codependents.
- Tendency to place the needs and wants of others first, to the exclusion of acknowledging one’s own
- Continued investment of self-esteem in the ability to control both oneself and others
- Excessive worrying about how others may respond to one’s feelings
- Self-esteem dependent on approval by others
- Undue fear of being hurt/rejected by others
Helping and caring for others are generally seen as healthy, selfless behaviors, but when a person feels the constant need to do so that they go beyond even their fulfilling their own needs, it can create an abnormal relationship in which the person being helped starts to rely on the steady assistance from the caregiver. This is called codependency, which is a condition that results in dysfunctional helping relationships between a codependent and the person they want to feel needed by, which lack a healthy balance. In these types of relationships, there is a needy person who cannot function on their own, whose thinking and behavior is organized around an addiction to a substance, process, or another person who helps them to function, who becomes physically dependent on the relationship, while the codependent, will become psychologically dependent on the needy person who reinforces their behavior.
What results from this relationship dynamic is the codependent ends up supporting and enabling the others’ addiction, immaturity, under-achievement, irresponsibility, or poor mental health. One comes to depend on the other due to a physical dependence while the other is psychologically dependent to help and feel needed, as they find their self worth from other people. A codependent will generally be reliant on others for approval and identity, so they become addicted to being selfless and helping others. The urge to feel needed by others is sometimes so powerful that they will take actions that will cause the other person to continue being needy.
Not all caring behaviors or feelings fall under codependency but only when it becomes excessive to an unhealthy extent. A codependent will place the needs of others before their own. It needs to be understood that over-responsibility is a positive impulse gone awry. When a codependent enables negative behaviors of those around them, they are only keeping them from properly functioning and becoming sufficient, which keeps them in need. Codependents will overlook others’ actions like child abuse, call in sick for an addict, keep their children from becoming self sufficient, keep a sick family member from getting well. These are all common codependent behaviors and symptoms:
- Putting the neeeds of others before their own needs
- Overwhelming desire for affection and acceptance
- Intense and unstable interpersonal relationships
- Inability to tolerate being alone
- Chronic feelings of boredom and emptiness
- Low self esteem
- Dependent on others for approval
Codependency has been called the disease of the lost self. Codependency can occur in any kind of relationship such as family, work, friendship, romantic, and peer or community relationships. A codependent romantic relationship often signify an unhealthy level of clinginess, in which one person lacks self sufficiency or autonomy. The codependent gains a sense of worth for being responsible or helping others to accomplish things. In family relationships, parents should make caring for their children a high priority, but it should be understood that the needs of an infant are necessary but temporary, while the needs of the codependent are constant.
Codependency is a condition that results in a dysfunctional relationship between the codependent and other people.