A codependent individual will develop patterns within relationships that repeatedly compromise personal needs in favor of the needs and desires of the other person. If an individual is truly codependent, he or she will suffer at the hands of a complete lack of self-care, instead focusing all emotional energy on the well-being of another. Codependency, also known as ‘relationship addiction’, is a serious and potentially devastating mental and emotional condition that affects thousands of individuals nationwide. However, codependency does not exclusively affect those in romantic relationships – the condition can exist in any close, interpersonal relationship. Many parents are codependent on their children, for example. It seems that rates of codependency are exceedingly high amongst mothers who have addicted children. We at Next Chapter have seen many mothers completely disregard their own emotional and mental welfare in order to coddle and safeguard their sons. Despite their intentions, this codependent behavior typically results in excessive and unnecessary harm to both involved parties.
Symptoms of Codependency
In order to break the damaging cycle of codependent behavior, you must first recognize and acknowledge that you may struggle with codependent tendencies. If you exhibit any of the following behaviors, you may want to consider the possibility that you are a codependent.
- Taking responsibility for the actions of others, or overcompensating for the actions of a loved one
- Feelings of resentment when personal efforts and self-sacrificing behaviors are not acknowledged
- Making an effort to avoid conflict and potentially uncomfortable emotions, repeatedly masking emotions with deflective defense mechanisms, such as humor or passivity
- Giving more than is expected or necessary in a relationship
- Misconceptions about ‘love’ – the belief that loving someone else means rescuing them
- Constant and invasive thoughts of the needs of another person
- Tendency to cling to the relationship despite obvious harm to self, likely to avoid feelings of abandonment and neglect
- A heightened sense of loyalty to the other individual, even in light of emotional and mental abuse
- Difficulty communicating personal needs and being assertive – lack of ability to set and maintain healthy boundaries
- Feelings of guilt when exhibiting assertiveness
- Preoccupation with the opinions of others
- Valuing the opinions of others over personal opinions and preferences
There are typically two roles being filled in every codependent relationship – the caretaker and the taker. When it comes to mothers and their addicted children, these roles are typically exceedingly easy to determine. However, because addiction often does affect every member of the immediate family, it is not uncommon for codependency to touch the lives of all involved. If the entire familial unit is existing in a codependent state when the needs of everyone are put aside in order to cater to one member of the family.
Codependent behaviors are frequently passed down through families – you may have been taught from an early age that expressing personal desires and requirements was wrong. You may have been forced to stifle and neglect your own emotions, being required from childhood or early adolescence to prioritize meeting the needs of others. Even long after you have left this environment, you may carry these instilled behavioral patterns with you, employing them in your newly developing interpersonal relationships – and passing them down to your children in turn. Break the pattern of codependency now, and seek the professional, therapeutic care you need. Discovering the root cause of your codependent tendencies will help you to successfully overcome detrimental behavioral patterns, and begin prioritizing your own needs and your personal sense of emotional well-being. We at Next Chapter have ample experience working with individuals who are involved in codependent relationships – familial, romantic, and otherwise.
We utilize experiential group and family therapy as well as regular one-on-one therapy with a licensed professional who specializes in recovering from codependency and codependent relationships. We teach our clients and their families to set and maintain personal boundaries, while prioritizing their own emotional and mental health. For more information on our specific program of recovery, or for more information on codependency, please feel free to contact us at 1-561-563-8407 today.