Codependency is when a person is in an unhealthy and often one-sided relationship. In a healthy relationship, both partners “meet in the middle” to sustain the relationship. In codependent relationships, however, one partner is always initiating behaviors to keep the relationship alive; paradoxically, they’re primarily dependent on the other person’s dependence on them (Psychology Today: Codependent or Simply Dependent: What’s the Big Difference?). Codependent partners often are looking exclusively to meet all their emotional needs from a single relationship, and engage in unhealthy behaviors to perpetuate a relationship, behaviors which often support irresponsibility, addictive lifestyles, or underachievement in their partners (PsychCentral).
Symptoms of Codependent People
- Low Self-Esteem
- People Pleasing
- Poor Boundaries
- Dysfunctional Communication
- Problems with Intimacy
- Painful Emotions
Although codependency is often a mentality that is learned in childhood, it can be treated and those suffering from codependent tendencies can learn to set healthy boundaries and be assertive. Twelve Step programs, such as Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), and individual/family therapy can often provide support and healthy instruction on how to take care of oneself rather than engaging in behaviors that continue to lower self-esteem and perpetuate unhealthy relationships. Healthy habits that are reinforced in psychological counseling for codependency include:
- Improving Self-Care
- Setting Boundaries
- “Fixing” vs. “Supporting”
- Helping Others in Productive Ways
- Learning about Family Patterns
In order to recover emotionally from codependent thought patterns and beliefs, one must develop knowledge of what a healthy relationship looks like, develop a healthy sense of identity, learn self-validation, and learn how to build healthy boundaries. It is important, as Christians, that we know how to gather our validation from our identity in Christ, rather than taking our self-worth from another human being.
If you are suffering from a codependent relationship or are experiencing an abusive relationship, do not hesitate to call today and set up a diagnostic intake at (757) 827-7707.
Good Therapy: Treatment for Codependency
How Codependency Resembles a Relationship Addiction
Psych Central: Codependency
Psychology Today: Codependent or Simply Dependent: What’s the Big Difference?
Article by: Sarah Warner, MS