Co-dependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by a partner. Often the person who requires support deals with addiction or a type of illness. They develop an unhealthy emotional reliance on their partner. The symptoms of co-dependency are problematic and can create toxic relationships.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Co-Dependency
The signs and symptoms of co-dependency can include:
Low Self-Esteem: One of the hallmark traits of people who are co-dependent is the presence of low self-esteem. They tend to tie their self-worth to that of others. They constantly pursue the feeling of being needed by others in order to elevate their self-esteem.
Placing Importance on Feeling Like a Problem-Solver: Another of the symptoms of co-dependency is the belief that if the person isn’t helping others, they lack worth. They thrive when filling the role of a problem-solver, protector, or advice-giver.
Difficulty Expressing Emotions: Co-dependent people often have trouble figuring out their emotions. They tend to suppress them out of a fear that others will reject them if they know what goes on in their minds. They may also misidentify their emotions in order to try to fit a mold they think will please others.
Unhealthy Ability to Communicate: Co-dependent people often lack basic communication skills. They may tend towards being passive-aggressive in their words and actions. Their inability to state their specific feelings leaves them feeling frustrated and unheard.
Trouble Recognizing Toxic Relationships: Co-dependent people often remain in relationships that prove harmful to themselves. They feel an extreme need to remain tied to someone else, despite evidence that the relationship has proved to be toxic and unproductive.
Tendency to Assume a Caretaker Role: Co-dependent people often thrive on feeling like a caretaker for someone they love. When they fulfill the role of a caretaker, it helps assuage their own feelings of anxiety.
Symptoms of Co-Dependency Often Impact Relationships Involving Addiction
A co-dependent person feels compelled to be seen as the savior of a loved one. When the person they love suffers from substance use disorder, they may feel this is their moment to shine. If the person experiencing addiction exhibits toxic or negative behavior, the co-dependent person may excuse or ignore it. Their need to stay tied to the person with an addiction may be so strong that it impacts their reactions.
In a healthy relationship, partners tend to insist on healthy boundaries being upheld. They engage in honest dialogue with each other. One of the key symptoms of co-dependency is the tendency to make excuses for partners who engage in negative relationship patterns and behaviors.
People in co-dependent relationships often find themselves inadvertently enabling their loved ones. While they may want to help them face their addiction to drugs or alcohol and seek help, their actions do not always match their desires. Enabling may entail shouldering some of the blame for a partner’s addiction. They may excuse their addictive behaviors. Often they try to help their partner avoid the negative consequences of their addiction. This can include lying about or hiding evidence of damaging behavior.
A person who deals with addiction while involved in a co-dependent relationship may find it affects their recovery process. It can cause it to feel more complicated and frustrating than is necessary. Couples in this situation may benefit from talking to a therapist or other treatment professional. Dialing back on the situation can liberate both of them.
Ways to Combat Co-Dependency
People who suffer from being co-dependent often move from relationship to relationship without changing. They mistakenly believe if one relationship negatively impacted by co-dependency fails, the next one will succeed. As a result, their co-dependency can manifest as its own type of addiction.
Seeking individual counseling can help a person identify their symptoms of co-dependency and work to change their patterns. Couples and family counseling also offer the opportunity for everyone involved to better understand their situation. Learning what unhealthy dynamics are in play leads to the ability to change. When removal of co-dependent tendencies in a relationship happens, recovery moves to the spotlight.
Specific and conscious steps a person can take to overcome their co-dependency include:
- Being aware of the problem
- Informing their partner of their intent to change
- Taking honest stock of their emotions and avoiding knee-jerk reactions
- Rejecting the desire to label themselves as either martyrs or victims
- Working on eliminating negative self-talk
- Placing their own needs on equal footing with those of others
- Establishing boundaries that do not allow someone else to speak disrespectfully to them or mistreat them
- Separating their goals and dreams from those of their partner
- Recognizing that they can only control their own actions and reactions, not those of others
- Addressing any potential addiction in their own lives
Addiction Help in Phoenix
Do you or someone you love exhibit symptoms of co-dependency? Continuum Recovery Center has a staff of skilled professionals ready to help. We offer traditional therapeutic treatment combined with holistic approaches to give you a well-rounded approach to recovery.
If you need information and guidance on dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today. We are happy to discuss your needs and goals for recovery. Get started on becoming a healthier, happier you today!
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