Codependency in Relationships
Codependency in relationships is an unhealthy partnership where one feels they cannot be without the other person and the other person often takes advantage. Key themes in codependent relationships often involve fear of abandonment and lack of boundaries.
Codependency is a learned behaviour based on unconscious false beliefs, often springing from our early development attachment and experiences, linked with culture, and gender and passed through many generations.
“I am not good enough”, “unlovable”, “my needs are less important”, “I am selfish if I look after myself”, “I am responsible for fixing everything and everyone”, – these ideas of self all underpin a codependent belief system.
Healthy partnerships are based on trust, honesty, communication, negotiation and, at times, compromise. Clear boundaries are made and recognised by both partners in the relationship. Both partners strive for an equal balance of power and have respect for the other person’s decisions and independence.
A codependent partnership, on the other hand, will see an unbalance of power and a hierarchy of priorities that benefits one person only, leaving the other dependent on them to feel they have a purpose.
Roles and dynamics can be unconscious and can be seen, for instance, when one person is complacent about the other’s addiction to feeling needed and relied upon. This person will involuntarily enable the addiction because of the unconscious fear that they will one day recover, survive independently and leave. With no boundaries or lines to cross over the addict will know that the other person will never leave.
It is important to say that codependent relationships, although unhealthy, can paradoxically give people a sense of safety, predictability and security which can make change even tougher.
In this short blog post, we have included the warning signs of a codependent relationship and the cause. At the Leone Centre we are here to help you to develop awareness and understanding. Healing is ultimately becoming freer and making the choices that help you achieve positive change for your future.
It is essential to recognise these signs and symptoms and that a person can experience one or all of these traits as no two individuals, nor two relationships are exactly the same.
What are the warning signs of a codependent relationship?
- Being unable to recognise differences, or holding the other’s opinion at value when it is not the same as yours. The expectation of sameness, thinking and wanting the same things and holding the same opinions.
- Being unaware or dismissing how you or the other feel
- Paying more attention to the other person’s feelings than to how you feel
- Holding a low opinion and regard of oneself.
- Feeling relaxed around other people and stressed when around your partner
- Heavily dependent on the other person to achieve happiness and allowing your partner to have control of your feelings.
- The codependent person not taking responsibility for their own limitation and self-development.
- Frequent arguments occur and questioning your relationship whilst feeling like you are stuck.
- Receiving and accepting emotional and/or physical abuse.
- Wanting to leave the other person however experiencing fear of being alone.
- Struggling to make decisions, express how you actually feel, or say “no” in fear of your partner’s reaction and them not approving.
- Feeling lost and out of control when they are not around.
Symptoms of Codependency
- Relying on others to find contentment
- Comparing oneself to others
- People pleasing
- Lack of boundaries
- Seeking approval and acceptance from others
- Low Self-esteem
- Heightened emotions and stress
- Feeling lonely and/or numb
- Poor Communication skills
- Avoiding confrontation
What are the causes?
Codependency can be caused by a number of factors within one’s life however, it is commonly found that codependent predisposition is the result of a person’s upbringing. Understanding is the first step towards change.
Codependency can also be a knock-on effect from being around other unhealthy relationships and experiencing past trauma such as abuse, violence, traumatic divorce, neglect, and having inappropriate responsibilities as a child like being the carer or protector of a parent. Processing these experiences and consequently developed beliefs help the process of self-healing and freeing.
Codependency can often be unintentionally self-inflicted. When a person fails to recognise their self-worth and feels unable to love themself or feel validation without another person’s approval this can result in codependency. These feelings can be due to childhood issues, but they can also be an underlying feeling of self-rejection.
The first step in making changes to a codependent relationship is becoming aware and identifying there is a problem. Taking the leap and asking for help is often the most difficult thing to do, but essential to begin moving towards a relationship where each person is capable of self-care and responsibility.
Learning to stop relying on others to approve your worthiness will ensure small but significant changes to a relationship. Learning to say “no” as an assertiveness practice can also help as well as self-love, self-care, looking after yourself, being true to yourself and saying it as it is for you.
Awareness and understanding of how you feel about yourself, how you have been loved and how you love can invite positive change where you can begin to experience self-worth. Receiving love and sharing love are two vastly separate relationships.
We recognise making changes to a codependent relationship can be complex and at times overwhelming. Individual or couples counselling is a step in the right direction towards making positive changes within your relationship or making the difficult decision to walk away.
Talk with a Leone Centre Professional
If you do feel like you need some help and support, our Leone Centre professionals are available 7 days a week. Call us on 020 3930 1007. We can also provide fast track therapy.
We can offer in-person counselling in London appointments at our head office in Fulham and our offices in Kensington, Wimbledon and Belgravia, We also service Victoria, Putney, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, and City of London.
In addition, we offer Online Therapy appointments wherever in the world you are located, should this better fit around your existing commitments or if you are not able to attend an in-person appointment.