What Is Codependency?
Not until some ten years ago did psychologists come up with this term while studying some family interpersonal relationships of some drug peddlers. It is a term used to describe the unhealthy association between two partners in a relationship in which one partner has a personality defect and is unwilling to change while the other partner is normal. That's not all; codependency sets in when the normal partner also known as "functional" partner now becomes overcommitted to the "unhealthy" partner to the extent that they don't care about themselves anymore. They play the martyr in a relationship and make themselves a benefactor of their partner's faults. You would expect that they should leave or become self-reliant but instead, they'll be working hard to please the unhealthy one even to their detriment. Perhaps we should illustrate this concept with an example. Let's say you, a cute, smart, and godly babe for whatever reason got hooked up with a drug and alcohol addict (Did I hear you say "God forbid?" Well, it's just an example); your boyfriend comes to you high on drugs and beats you mercilessly not once, not twice. You keep quiet probably begging him again because you fear that if you stand up to him, he might jilt you. He keeps abusing you while you keep appeasing him. That is what being codependent means. Codependency is not hereditary neither is it a congenital disease; it is a learned behavior. Individuals that are codependent mostly pick up the behavior during their childhood days from their caregivers or parents. That means that if your father or mother is/was codependent, you have a high chance of being one. This psychological behavior comes into play when a person suppresses their feelings to accommodate or justify someone else's. As such, in a codependent relationship, one person's manhood becomes more and more magnified at the expense of the other thereby resulting in a one-sided, non-mutual relationship.
Examples Of Codependent Behaviors In A Relationship
Just in case you didn't grab the definition of codependency given above, the ten examples to be discussed in the next section would shed more light on this concept. If you think any of the examples describes you, then you are likely in a codependent relationship, and as such, you have to do something to stop the one-sidedness.
1. Workaholism Can Be A Codependent Behavior
Being a workaholic may sound nice in some quarters, but if one carefully investigates the reason for this behavior, it may not be unconnected with a psychological condition. Codependency plays out when you do more than you should normally do because you are looking for the approval of your partner. In your mind, you think that if you can do more than is required of you, they'll eulogize and respect you for that. However, in going this extra mile, you fail to take into consideration the effect that it has on your health. Your focus is to do more so that your spouse can give kudos to you not minding if you are dying away in the process. You probably are working more than required in the first place because you have a lazy partner who has left their duties undone. And instead of calling their attention to it, you decide to put the whole thing upon yourself so you can appear like a superhero before them. This behavior can see you to the grave earlier than you think if nothing is done by you to stop it. Why kill yourself to keep another person alive when they could have joined hands together with you to keep both of you alive? As it goes, the lazy partner becomes lazier because they know there is a codependent workaholic who would always fill in the gap for them.
2. Another Codependent Behavior Is Taking The Blame For Your Partner
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Your spouse has just lost a promising contract because of their recklessness and no sooner had they informed you than you make yourself responsible for the loss. That's a codependent behavior you have just displayed. You take the responsibility of their ineptitude upon yourself so that they can feel good. The reason you're doing this is that you fear that if they start feeling bad about themselves, they may withdraw their affection and attention from you which is one thing you dread. So, to prevent this, you present yourself as the sacrificial lamb. You make them believe it was you who didn't do what was right and that was why they lost the bid. To this extent, instead of them looking inwards and correcting what is wrong with them, you keep making them lash out at you for a thing you are not responsible for. With time, this begins to take a toll on you, and you become passively aggressive. They no longer see themselves as having any fault, but instead, it must always be you.
3. Undue Anxiety For What Is Not Your Problem
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Where what you are suffering from is codependency, your partner would hit their legs on the wall, and you'll be the one feeling the pain the most. They don't sleep in time, and you too start having a sleepless night. Simply put, the victim is unmoved while you are wearing away because of them. This exaggeration of your partner's problem is a desperate means on your part to let them know you care. Yes, you may have the right intention but your overreaction reveals just how insecure you are and your partner would sooner or later lightly esteem you because of it. Let the person with the problem worry about it and stop putting what is not yours on yourself.
4. Another Codependent Behavior In A Relationship Is Manipulation
Manipulation comes in different ways, but for codependency, you are twisting other people's responses to make you feel comfortable. Perhaps you didn't get it; your partner just said you are stupid and instead of taking their word at face value, you manipulate it to suit yourself. Perhaps, you make it look like they are only joking with you. In friendship or marriage, this behavior can make you become a recipient of continuous and unrestricted verbal abuse if nothing is done to stop it. Your partner just addresses you anyhow because they know you'll accept it. And though you are not enjoying this treatment as they probably think you are, the fear of not being abandoned by them keeps making you to stomach the nonsense. But accepting to be nothing so that others can be everything is not the way to build a friendship or marriage. Every healthy relationship is a give-and-take affair, and it is only when partners mutually respect each other that the relationship can be healthy.
5. Feeling Unworthy Of Love Is Another Codependent Behavior
Are you always suspecting your friend or spouse loves you instead of feeling the love yourself? That can be a codependent behavior you are manifesting. Such feelings only arise when there is an unequal commitment or feeling of worth in a relationship or marriage. In a friendship or marriage relationship where the stakeholders see each other as equally relevant, there is no need for one person suspecting love. They should rather be experiencing it. But as we have earlier established, codependency makes its victim abdicate their dignity, self-worth, and self-esteem to promote those of others.
6. Another Codependent Behavior Is You Trying To Change Your Partner
If you find yourself trying hard to change your spouse or friend to who you think they should be, what you are doing is turning your marriage or friendship into a codependent one. The beauty of relationships is partners accepting and loving each other for who they are and not who they want them to be. The reason for trying to change your partner is because you fear they may harm themselves if they continue to be who they are. But this fear is often exaggerated; you either break your friendship with them or accept them for who they are. No one can change anyone except the person involved agrees to change.
7. Unnecessary Cover-Ups: Another Codependent Behavior
Behavior to always cover up for your spouse or friend so they can get away with the consequences of their reckless actions. Life is all about actions and consequences. When we take action, it's only normal to expect an outcome. But if in your marriage or friendship you have to lie or do any of the immoral things just to cover up for your partner's poor choices, that's a codependent behavior you have to overcome before it overcomes you. As it goes, falsehood can only be hidden for a while. With time, your lies would be uncovered, and instead of your partner being made to face the consequences of their actions, you'll become an object of ridicule before people because of the many lies you have told in good faith to cover them up.
8. Neglecting Your Needs To Attend To Your Partner's
Granted, sometimes, we may have to abandon our needs to meet those of others, but that would mean that the people we want to help cannot help themselves. Or if not for a dysfunctional behavior like codependency, why should I abandon my pressing need to meet those of another who has as much strength as I have to help him/herself? In most codependency situations, even the person you want to rob yourself to help may not be willing to be helped. But because you don't consider yourself important, you feel that sacrificing your comfort to please others would recommend you for their approval.
9. Crossing Boundary: Another Codependent Behavior
In this case, it is your boundary that is being crossed. Your partner or friend takes something that is very private and personal to you without seeking your consent or approval, and you keep quiet. It can even be any of your resources; you remain mute not because you're not hurt by their effrontery but because you lack enough self-esteem to look at trespass in the face and call it its right name. Unless you overcome this behavioral defect, you may soon lose your very self.
10. Feeling Obligated
Yes, if in your relationship, you constantly feel obligated to meet your partner's supposed expectation from you without checking what your own needs are, you're surely codependent. A healthy relationship makes each person works and walks at their own pace and not at that of the other. In fact, in this case, it may not be your partner putting any obligation on you but yourself.
There you have some of the examples of codependency as it often plays out in a relationship. It is surely a bad thing, and you'll have to overcome it lest you're completely overcome by it. Many experts have submitted that a psychotherapy session may be needed for most codependents to get out of the wood. But in all, a lasting solution must make victim recover their sense of worth and value for total healing to take place.