By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT
Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.
Do you expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you the one that is constantly making sacrifices in your relationship? Then you may be in a codependent relationship.
The term codependency has been around for decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics (first called co-alcoholics), researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had previously imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you could also be codependent. Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible.
Symptoms of CodependencyThe following is a list of symptoms of codependency and being in a codependent relationship. You don’t need to have them all to qualify as codependent.
Codependents and Empaths - it’s not “selfish”, it’s called self-care. Rescuing others prevents them from learning their own lessons and becoming self-empowered. If you are giving too much, and it is coming at a cost to your own Self, then you are being self-sacrificing - which is pretty draining. Take care of yourself first. Feel your feelings and work towards getting your emotional needs met in healthy ways. If your personal value and self-worth comes from helping others, there’s a little bit of work you can do there… To feel worthy and valuable without needing to sacrifice your own happiness; and then, when you do give to others, or help them out, it is coming from a place of fulfillment and genuine generosity instead of to try to meet your own unfulfilled needs, hoping they will give you something back that you need from them. This way, you can truly give, and not NEED them to validate your worth, so in the case that you’re not experiencing that reciprocity that you hoped for, you’re not too disappointed. You’re giving for the sake of giving because you enjoy being a nurturing and loving person. Out of necessity, begin within - do this for yourself so you can help others begin to do the same for themselves. What can emerge is a fulfilling relationship based on mutual reciprocity and meeting of each other’s emotional needs, in loving ways, coming from two wholesome individuals who have healthy self-respect and self love.