How do people become codependent

What Causes Codependency - SUN Delaware

Human emotions are complicated. When we see a loved one suffering, it is human nature to want to help alleviate their pain. When the need to help another person supersedes your own needs, this is called codependency. Codependency defines a relationship in which one partner has intense physical or emotional needs, and the other partner spends the majority of their time responding to those needs. This often comes to the detriment of the codependent partner’s life, activities, and other relationships.

Codependency can lead to a negative spiral in which the codependent partner cares for and accommodates their loved one’s issues, enabling the loved one to maintain their challenging or destructive behaviors.

In a normal, healthy relationship, the people involved can get their emotional needs met by both their connection and other outside sources such as hobbies, interests, and friendships outside of their relationship.

In a codependent relationship, the balance of emotional fulfillment is off. Often, this means that one person gives while the other person takes. Both parties involved begin to accept their respective roles and need each other to feel “complete.”

Now that we understand what a codependent relationship looks like, let’s talk about possible reasons codependent tendencies may develop.

Table of Contents

Childhood and Cause of Codependency

Like many psychological traits, both positive and negative, codependent tendencies may be rooted in the childhood experience. As children, we form our basis for healthy relationships based on our relationships with parents and other family members. Codependency issues typically develop when someone is raised by parents who are either overprotective or under protective.

Overprotective parents may shield or protect their children from gaining the confidence they need to be independent in the world. In such situations, a child may grow up to be scared of trying new things. For example, a parent may have forbidden you from learning to skateboard for fear of you getting hurt. This seems reasonable and parental protection is a natural response up to a point but can have many negative psychological consequences if it becomes intensely overbearing.

Another form of overprotective parenting can come in the form of coddling to the extent that a child never learns basic life skills. If a child is never taught basic life skills, it makes sense that they will seek someone to fill those responsibilities in adulthood. To view examples of this type of unhealthy parenting, observe any freshman college dorm. Within the first few weeks of dorm life, it will become apparent who was given the skills they need to begin an independent life. Many college students will find themselves in a difficult situation, having never been taught how to do simple things such as wash their clothes.

On the other side of the parenting spectrum, we see many cases of under protective parents. These types of parents can help build the foundation for codependency by not providing enough support in development. In a healthy parent-child relationship, we see a solid foundation of confidence that allows a child to build independence at a healthy rate over several years. When this is not the case, a child may end up feeling very alone and unsafe in the world. Many children of under protective parents may end up overcompensating by becoming very resistant to any guidance or support.

We often see that many children coming from households with parents that have substance use problems may have issues with codependency themselves later in life. This may be due to their familiarity with neglecting their own needs for the needs of another person. In these situations, the parent-child relationship is reversed and the child is the primary caregiver for their parent. It happens more often than you may think.

Children raised in unhealthy households may have an inherent need to satisfy those around them. They may also seek emotional fulfillment from the satisfaction of other people. As children, we are often at the mercy of our household situation. As adults, we’re free to break the cycle of codependency.

Codependency issues often go hand in hand with substance use and other mental health conditions in what is known as a co-occurring disorder.

Codependent Relationships From Childhood to Adulthood

Children raised in the scenarios above may see codependency manifest itself in any number of ways when they reach adulthood. Below we will outline some ways that codependency issues may play out in everyday adult life:

Boundary Issues

Someone raised in an unhealthy household may have a skewed sense of boundaries. This can go either way. Their boundaries may be so fragile that they give in too easily and are treated like a “doormat.” Their boundaries can also be so strong that they shut people out entirely, making healthy relationships incredibly difficult.

Underlying Guilt

Another common issue with people from unhealthy situations is a constant feeling of underlying guilt. They may feel guilty about not being able to fix their situation at home which leads to extreme feelings of guilt when something good happens to them. This guilt may lead them to feel like they don’t deserve to be happy.

Trust Issues

A childhood full of habitual lies and let-downs may lead to an adulthood full of issues trusting people. These people may always be questioning the motivations of people close to them, leading to difficulty in forming fulfilling relationships. This may lead to extreme feelings of isolation or loneliness in adulthood.

Control Issues

A codependent person may be overly preoccupied with control or responsibility. When a child is forced to grow up too fast and accept responsibilities beyond their age or maturation, this can lead to clinging to things that they can control when life gets chaotic. This can put a tremendous amount of strain on relationships.

Hypercritical Sense of Self

A codependent person may be incredibly critical of themselves. They may feel as though they are fundamentally flawed and this may have a very negative effect on their sense of self-esteem. These self-critical leanings may lead to a person feeling like they are unworthy of happiness.

We know that the issue of codependency is complicated so we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions on the subject:

  • How do you know if you are in a codependent relationship?

If you’re in a codependent relationship you may have trouble making decisions on your own, identifying your feelings, and communicating. You may also seek approval from others and value their approval overvaluing yourself. People in codependent relationships may also have trouble trusting themselves and have poor self-esteem.

  • Why is codependency a bad thing?

Codependency can stand in the way of you having a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. People with codependency may often form or maintain one-sided, and often abusive, relationships.

  • What is a codependent person like?

A codependent person often seeks the approval of others before their self-approval. They may also have trouble communicating, making decisions, and have poor self-esteem.

  • How do I stop being codependent?

The first step in becoming independent is to understand what codependency looks like. Identifying the characteristics of codependency can help you form healthier relationship habits. It is also important to set boundaries in your relationships and resist the urge to control, fix, or save your partner. Talking to a licensed mental health professional is also a very effective way to break the habit of codependence.

Codependent tendencies may be the biggest obstacle faced by someone who is in recovery from substance use or mental health issues. It is important to know that even deep-seated codependency is very treatable with an outpatient treatment program.  

Here at SUN Behavioral Delaware, we understand the underlying issues that lead to codependency and we’re here to help you live a healthy and dignified life. 

Call us today at 302-604-5600 to speak with one of our compassionate healthcare professionals and get started on your road to recovery.

What causes codependency? - My Online Therapy

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The security you’re craving is already inside of you.

The term codependency is bandied around a lot these days – sometimes too much. Many people mistakenly think of codependency as one partner being too “needy”. But it’s important to say that we all need each other from time-to-time, and seeking reassurance and support from our partner is healthy and natural. 

Inevitably, life throws us ups and downs – typically at different times – so it’s normal to find one partner feeling more vulnerable than the other, and needing more support. But typically, the pendulum swings back round again, and the couple switches supportive roles. Even though that might “look” different on the outside, that support is felt and experienced within the relationship.

In an equal, balanced relationship, both individuals are able to get their needs met, both through their connection, but also in their hobbies, interests and friendships outside of the relationship.

With codependent relationships, this balance is out of whack. One person gives, and the other takes. But importantly, both individuals need each other in order to feel “whole”.

Codependency doesn’t just exist in romantic relationships. It can happen between friends and family members too. But for the sake of ease, we’re going to focus more specifically on codependency within the context of a romantic relationship here. But it might be helpful to see whether you notice any of these same characteristics in your other relationships too.

Characteristics of codependent relationships – how do I know if I’m in a codependent relationship?
  • You find it difficult to cope with day-to-day life without the input and support of your partner.
  • You plan your entire life around your partner.
  • One of you “needs”, and the other one enjoys feeling needed, playing the role of caretaker.
  • You hate being alone for any length of time.
  • You find your self-worth through your partner.
  • One of you struggles to voice – perhaps even identify – that they have needs.
  • You don’t trust your own judgement, and need a lot of reassurance. Seeking reassurance might extend outside of the relationship too, into work, friends, family etc.
  • There’s a lot of anxiety in the relationship, with at least one partner feeling the need to “please”.
  • You don’t feel whole without your partner.

What is the root cause of codependency? 

Codependency can often be traced back to childhood, to the relationships we had with our parents (or primary caretakers). It usually happens when we had parents who were either overly protective or under protective.

Overprotective parents hold their children back from building the confidence needed to move out into the world. There might have been anxieties around trying new things (“you can’t go on the slide because you’ll hurt yourself”) or you might have been so mollycoddled that you never learnt how to do basic tasks like cooking or washing your clothes. 

These kinds of parent-child relationships are often enmeshed as well, with limited personal boundaries. Perhaps a parent treated you more like a friend, sharing secrets with you, over-involving themselves in your life and including you in daily decision-making. The parent keeps the child dependent on them by reinforcing dependent behaviours and discouraging independent behaviours. In these cases, aside from not developing the confidence to take care of yourself, there might also be a guilt attached to even wanting or needing your own life. 

Under protective parents, on the other hand, build the basis for codependency by not providing their child with enough support. Independence is something that needs to be found gradually, over time. We need to be provided with a safe and secure base as a child in order to feel confident enough to build our own security. Missing this vital step can leave a child feeling very alone and unsafe in the world. Some children with under protective parents might find that they overcompensate for this feeling by becoming overly autonomous, rejecting any needs for guidance and support. But despite this, the underlying fears and sense of aloneness will be difficult to shake. 

Likewise, children who grew up with an alcoholic parent/s can easily find themselves in codependent relationships in later life, because the pattern of neglecting their own needs for the needs of another is so familiar.

How to fix codependency 

First off, be kind to yourself. If you relate to any of the above, you’ve fallen into a pattern of codependency because your needs were not met fully as a child. You did what you had to in order to survive and find connection. It was actually incredibly smart at the time! It’s just not serving you – or your relationships – right now.

Fixing codependency is about healing your inner child. Reconnect to yourself and your own needs. What were you lacking as a child? Were you left to your own devices and just expected to “get on with it”? Or perhaps your parents were “everything” to you but you also felt slightly smothered? Try and pinpoint where this stems from.

Get clear on the things that make you afraid. Write them down on a list if it helps. Inner confidence is built gradually, through mastery. Once you’ve identified your fears, start small and work your way upwards. If you find that you over-rely on your partner, try your best to resist the urge to look for reassurance. Trust your own judgement. With each small step that you take, you’ll slowly build up your confidence. Everything you need is already right here with you. Believe in yourself.

If you and your partner do everything together, find a hobby or activity that you can do outside of the relationship. If you’re not sure, think back to the things you enjoyed doing as a child and take up something new. Your partner will never be able to fulfil your every need. Build a life that is full and varied – and which isn’t only centred around them.

Therapy – either individual or couples – can be really beneficial in helping you unravel where this pattern of dependency stems from so you can break the cycle. A therapist will help you identify your needs and build your self-worth enough to realise that you are worthy of them.

The security you’re craving is already inside of you. You have the power to give it to yourself – you only need to realise it.

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Further Reading

what is codependency and how to deal with it - T&P

All-consuming, sacrificial love is traditionally romanticized - strong dependence on another being, with all the pain of sensations, elevates a person above the ordinary world, making him a dramatic hero and giving his life meaning and sharpness .

But from the point of view of psychologists, long-term attachment of the level “the whole world revolves around a beloved being” is a sure sign of relationship pathology. This condition—experts call it codependency—is akin to drug addiction: it distorts perception, breaks the boundaries of the individual, and destroys life. T&P talk about the causes of codependency, how to treat it, and who is at risk.

It used to be believed that codependence appears only in those whose loved ones suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction: say, a husband or wife drinks, and his or her partner suffers in the situation, but does not seek to get out of it or protect himself, voluntarily becoming dependent on other people's actions (or strives, but only nominally). However, today we know that this pathology is born in other cases. For it to arise between two people, they both must be prone to addictions: food, love, chemical and others. If this condition is met, a specific system of relations arises in which the participants literally cannot live without each other and exert a huge influence on each other. Interpersonal boundaries suffer or are erased, the inner world of a person is too vulnerable to external influences, and this negatively affects his life.

Codependency is still not officially listed as a mental illness (despite the fact that it was proposed to be included in the DSM as early as 1987), but in some sense it changes consciousness. Patients say that subjectively this condition resembles a planetary system with a displaced center, as if, as a result of a terrible mistake, celestial bodies, including the star itself, suddenly began to rotate around one of the planets, blindly bumping into each other. The main element of the universe for the codependent becomes another person who gets the role of a determining factor in everything: mood, well-being, self-esteem, plans, self-confidence and tomorrow. It colors all circumstances, facts, time and space, affects the pulse rate and blood pressure, the absence or presence of manifestations of neurosis, labor productivity. It is constantly present, even when communication with the "drug" stops for a while. A person experiences strong feelings in relation to this great Other: bright love, desperate joy, unbearable pain of loss, terrible bitterness and no less terrible anger. It is difficult to get out of this state and start living a normal life, and not to fall into depression or a new dependence on a person or something else is doubly difficult. Often it is impossible to do without the help of a psychotherapist, although experts say that there are cases when, with proper awareness, people can cope on their own.

Love addict and avoidance addict: who builds codependent relationships separation means that the goal is to complete this stage, and the situation of merging is repeated until you find a way to "split" after all.

A person prone to love addiction usually seeks and finds, while ill, specific partners with whom the desired scenario can be realized - avoidance addicts. The avoidant addict shies away from intimacy and intimate contact, but at the same time fears loneliness, although he does not realize it. Therapists say that avoidance addicts and friend's love addicts are very similar to each other: they both experience the fear of abandonment and the fear of intimacy at the same time. The difference lies in which fear is recognized: in the case of a love addict, only the first fear is focused on, and in the case of an avoidance addict, only the second. This allows the love addict to behave in such a way that, while desiring intimate contact, not to receive it, and the avoidance addict to not allow intimacy, but at the same time keep the partner close.

At the same time, codependence develops most easily against the background of a long stay in a stressful situation, when suppressive rules are used that do not allow you to openly express your feelings and directly discuss personal and interpersonal problems.

Playing the Rescuer: The Codependency Scenario

From the inside, the state of codependency looks like a painful chaos, but in fact it has clear rules and psychological roles. In their relationships, dependent people move within the framework of the so-called "Karpman's triangle". There are three positions in this model of interactions: the Victim, the Persecutor and the Savior, which are tightly interconnected and constantly replace each other. According to the rules, the Victim provokes others so that someone or something acts as the Persecutor, or the Persecutor finds someone who is guilty of something and begins to put pressure on this Victim: accuse, demand, punish. Regardless of who or what is in the position of the aggressor, the Victim quickly manages to prove that she is not guilty of anything, and the cause of all troubles is other people, circumstances, or even the Persecutor himself. She shows how much she suffers and how helpless she feels, and begins to look for a Savior who will protect her. The Savior tries to help the Victim, but since it is only a rescue game, nothing comes of it. The victim accuses the Savior of the failure of his efforts, after which he himself turns into the Victim, and the Victim becomes the Persecutor, and everything repeats again.

Two players can move around the Karpman triangle, switching from role to role, indefinitely. The victim is also able to turn into the Savior, the Savior can switch to the persecution or try to get out of the situation (for which he himself will be punished), and the Persecutor can suddenly become the Victim.

Merging and splitting: the causes of codependency

Why do people fall into the Karpman triangle and stay in it? It is believed that this is due to disturbances in the process of transition from merging with the mother to separation from her in early childhood. Today it is believed that from the moment of birth until the age of two or three, a child is not aware of himself as a separate being. However, over time, on the basis of trust and a sense of security, a desire arises to explore the world and psychological independence from the mother. The child begins to rely on his own inner strength, independently evaluate himself and declare himself, and not wait for someone else to say what he deserves and is worth. This allows him to learn to take responsibility for his words and actions, interact with others, express his feelings, restrain aggression, overcome fear and soberly treat other people's authority. If the separation process is not completed or goes wrong, the child's own "I" turns out to be fuzzy, and the boundaries of the personality remain permeable.

In modern society, for one reason or another, separation does not end for many people. The environment at home has its influence, as well as many social systems built on the dependence of some people on others: the outdated mechanism of relations between the "weak" and "strong" sex, the practice of suppression, punishment and domination adopted in some educational systems (including Russia), the arrangement of relations in the labor, commercial, state spheres, where certain groups of people occupy a more advantageous position, determining the way of life of the rest. From the point of view of psychotherapy, most of the social systems of relations today incline people to codependency in one way or another. As a result, “sick” relationships often arise between people, which can only be improved through two- or multi-sided conscious work.

A cloud of black smoke: living with codependency

Codependency is not a psychiatric diagnosis and yet has a catastrophic effect on life. It leads to the destruction of social ties and depression with all the ensuing consequences. A codependent person who suffers from depression (like any other person who suffers from it) is in an altered state of consciousness, and its mechanics are incomprehensible from the outside. The logic of actions in this case is determined not by a sense of self-preservation, a strategy for success in life, psychological defense mechanisms and other natural things, but by pathological patterns of relationships and a state of humiliation and a complete lack of prospects, in which such people often find themselves.

However, both depression and codependency can be dealt with. Psychotherapy allows you to resolve these issues; self-education, support from relatives and friends, a joint analysis of the current situation and a conscious attitude to circumstances, even if it is not easy to form at the beginning, help.

The first and most important thing that a person with such a diagnosis should know is that no one is to blame for codependency. It always arises at least between two people, which means that it is impossible to blame one person for creating such a relationship. This alone destroys the Karpman triangle and takes its participants from the positions of a helpless Victim, an angry Persecutor and a heroic Savior to the positions of equal people who simply find themselves in a difficult situation.

Co-dependent relationships: what are they, signs and how to get out of them

How to distinguish just an unhappy union from co-dependent relationships? And can codependent relationships be happy? We deal with a psychologist.

The author of the article is Svetlana Makhova, family psychotherapist, specialist in the service for the selection of psychologists Alter

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What is a co-dependent relationship

A co-dependent relationship is a destructive form of relationship in which a person is fully involved and completely absorbed in the life of another person, most often dependent on: alcohol, drugs, food, games, work, gambling and computer games, dangerous species sports, shopping and the like.

Participants in co-dependent relationships believe that the actions and behavior of other people completely affect their life and condition, so they are completely absorbed in controlling their own and others' actions, and thus regulate their own condition.

The term "codependency" means "joint dependency". It first appeared in medicine and psychology in the late 1970s, when scientists began to investigate the causes of relapse in people with chemical addiction. Alcoholics and drug addicts, returning after therapy and rehabilitation to their families, again began to drink or use drugs. The study of the relationship between the addict and close relatives helped to reveal the phenomenon of codependence as a stable system of attitudes, stimuli and reactions that support the use of drugs and alcohol.

Signs of a co-dependent relationship

A partner can be a husband/wife, parent/child, boss/subordinate/employee - anyone with whom you are in some relationship.

  • you think that your partner is to blame for the fact that something is not going well in your life, because ...
  • if your partner is in a bad mood or something is not going well with him, or you think that something is wrong with him - you do not find a place for yourself, you cannot do anything, therefore ...
  • you must do something to make him feel good or everything will work out for him;
  • you do not openly discuss problems with your partner - you discuss his behavior with other people, trying to understand its causes in order to find a way to fix the problem, because ...
  • you are afraid to upset, offend, anger your partner;
  • a partner can directly or indirectly blame you for something going wrong with him, and you easily agree with this;
  • you think that help, support, attention, love must be earned by good behavior, and...
  • if you do not receive due attention and help from your partner, then you think that you are not good enough and you need to become better.

A person with co-dependent behavior can be recognized by conversations: his involvement in the lives of other people is manifested in the endless discussion of others - spouse, colleagues, friends, neighbors. Communication with such people is reminiscent of a joke about lumberjacks: “What are lumberjacks talking about? In the forest - about women, with women - about the forest. At home, they discuss their boss or employees with relatives, at work - relatives, complaining about their behavior. In contact with such a person, the interlocutor has a feeling of some confusion: it is not clear what he wants, what he feels like in this situation or next to you. You want to save such a person right away: give him advice, offer help.

A still from Gossip Girl

© kinopoisk

How co-dependent relationships develop

Certain upbringing conditions influence the formation of a tendency to co-dependent relationships, where parents or close relatives had an addiction, a mental disorder, demonstrated violence or used it as an educational measure in relation to the child. In such families, no one was interested in the feelings, experiences, needs and desires of the child, no one was interested in his opinion. The child rarely heard praise addressed to him. Everything that he did well was perceived as the norm, and for everything that did not work out, he was scolded, punished, criticized.

Silence and detachment as a method of punishment made the child suffer in uncertainty: he could not understand what his fault was and how to return the favor of his parents. As a result, the child learned that he was responsible for the condition and well-being of loved ones, and in order to please them, he must have the ability to guess how to do it.

There is no direct dialogue in such families. There, no one talks about himself, his experiences, desires, does not express requests. All communication is built on duty, avoidance of problems.

This is how a person learned from childhood that:

  • he is the cause of everything that happens to close people;
  • he is to blame for everything, he must understand the reason himself and find a way to fix everything;
  • you can’t ask anyone - this is a sign of weakness, you have to guess;
  • everything that happens to him can negatively affect others, be ridiculed and devalued, so it is not safe to talk about yourself;
  • you can’t want anything for yourself - this is a manifestation of selfishness;
  • first of all it is important to take care of others;
  • others know better what is good for him, so the opinion of others is a priority.

A person's strong conviction that he must above all take care of others excludes even the thought of taking responsibility for his own life into his own hands and doing something for himself. Self-care is manifested in the expectation that others will take care of him if he "deserves" it. And instead of solving his own problems, he is violently involved in others, with a timid expectation that he will be noticed, appreciated, paid attention to him and offered help. It turns out, like Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita: “Never ask for anything! Never and nothing, and especially for those who are stronger than you. They themselves will offer and give everything themselves!

A shot from the film “500 Days of Summer”

© kinopoisk

In such relationships, the boundaries between the participants are erased. A person does not distinguish where he is and where the other is. One perceives any refusal not as the will of the other ("Sorry, what you offer does not suit me"), but as the fact that he did not try hard enough or not good enough - "did not deserve it. " And if he tries, changes, becomes better, the other will definitely notice / love / appreciate / give him what he wants. Therefore, it is difficult for him to leave the relationship. He does not have the feeling that he is bad in a relationship, because the other does not meet halfway: there is fear, shame and guilt that he is doing something wrong. To be loved, you have to earn love. And he will stubbornly deserve it, regardless of the desires and will of others.

Our brains are lazy. People are more likely to build close relationships with their own kind, with those who will match their behavioral model. Co-dependent people don't see themselves very well in relationships where they don't have to take care of anyone: "Why would someone else need me if they can manage without me?"

As practice shows, almost all participants in co-dependent relationships have some kind of addiction (sometimes more than one). So, for example, in a family, the father drinks, the wife disappears at work, and the son chooses a way to get away from problems in computer games. The husband drinks, the wife has a food addiction. The girl talks about her relationship with a guy with whom they cannot leave - in the process it turns out that he once used drugs, and she was treated for anorexia.

Codependency and Karpman's triangle

Interaction between people in codependent relationships is illustrated by a psychological model called Karpman's triangle (also called the "triangle of fate"). This scheme was first described by American psychologist, MD Stephen Karpman in 1968. According to Karpman, there are three typical roles that participants in co-dependent relationships take in relation to each other: victim, persecutor, rescuer.

Shot from the series "Sharp Objects"

© kinopoisk

Playing one of these roles, each participant fulfills their unspoken, often unconscious needs and desires in the way that is most familiar to them - this is the hidden purpose and motive for being in such a relationship. However, in the long run, none of the "players" this situation will bring relief.

A gamer son will always be dissatisfied with his mother, who does not allow him to live in peace. A workaholic mother will always reproach her alcoholic husband and gamer son, who "sit on her neck" and "did nothing useful in life." An alcoholic father will complain about his wife who constantly saws him and his son. In this example, all members of the family, to one degree or another, move from one role to another: rescuer - persecutor - victim. By helping her son and husband, the wife actually does them a disservice by not letting them face the consequences of their behavior, and by criticizing them creates tension, which each of them relieves in a chosen way - through alcohol or games.

A person who plays the role of a persecutor or a rescuer does not realize that by doing so he only maintains the addiction.

Another example. A girl enters into a relationship with a married man who complains to her that his wife has ruined his whole life, and therefore he is very unhappy. She sees in him a suitable object for the realization of the role of a rescuer: "I will be better than his wife, I will definitely make him happy." The man is the victim, his wife is the persecutor, and the girl considers herself the rescuer. The man, however, is in no hurry to leave his wife, and the girl eventually tries on the role of the victim, reproaching him for spending years on him, saving his ruined life. Their relationship can last long enough, the man will not divorce, but he will not break off relations with the girl either. He will be tormented by a sense of duty to his wife and a sense of guilt towards the girl. The wife will try to get her husband back, the girl will try to keep the man; they will all stay in the relationship without trying to change anything.

Why do all the participants in the triangle, remaining dissatisfied with the situation, nevertheless do not come out of it? Initially, they all have self-doubt, low self-esteem, fear of loneliness, and need the approval of others. Through supposedly caring for a more “vulnerable”, “independent” person, they try to compensate for their own shortcomings.

Psychologist and co-author of transactional analysis Claude Steiner put it this way: “The victim is not really as helpless as he feels; The Rescuer doesn't really help, and the Persecutor doesn't really have a valid claim."

Consequences of co-dependent relationships

In a family with co-dependent relationships, one cannot want anything “for oneself” — this is perceived as selfishness, as something condemned. Therefore, no one talks about what is important to him, everyone waits for the other to guess. A person prefers to rely on social norms and attitudes, on the opinions of others (“they said on TV”, “the boss thinks”, “the girlfriend knows for sure”), that is, he comes from a certain idea of ​​“how it should be”.

The idea of ​​asking another what he wants is rare. Usually for two reasons. First, a person "must guess for himself. " Secondly, even if you ask, they are unlikely to tell you, because “you can’t want anything for yourself.” Usually they say with shyness: “What you choose, the main thing for me is your concern.” All participants in the relationship play the guessing game and care for others based on the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bhow "it should be." Therefore, if a daughter wants a blue dress, they buy her a pink one: there is no need to disgrace the family - what will people think if they see a girl in blue? And a boy in a pink T-shirt or shirt with flowers is unacceptable. Parents sincerely worry about the reputation - both their own and the child's. But behind this fear of condemnation it is difficult to hear yourself, your desires, the request of a loved one.

Such “concern” goes hand in hand with total control, condemnation of the actions of relatives, if these actions seem unacceptable. And since a person does not have his own system of values ​​(in such a system everyone says what not to do, but no one says what to do), and he relies on the opinions of others, the rules of what not to do change often. Therefore, all participants in the relationship are in constant tension and anxiety, waiting for where and for what the reproach will fly.

Still from the film "Dirt"

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What does the child hear? Most of the time, that he does everything wrong. As a rule, parents do not say how good it would be, how to fix the situation - because they themselves are not sure, and often do not know how. As a result, a person grows up who does not have support for any stable values. Such a person comes to a psychologist with the request “What should I do? What will be the correct decision? All his questions will be focused on how to do it right and how to do it. Such a person cannot defend his point of view - there is practically none; cannot make a choice, distinguish what is good for him and what is bad. If you ask him how he feels now, he will be confused, because it is important for him to give the "correct answer". Such people often experience communication anxiety for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Everything new and unknown in the family is perceived with hostility, as "dangerous". The initiative is not welcome. And when a child grows up, on the one hand, they demand independence from him, on the other hand, they continue to condemn all his attempts to do something, as well as any of his inaction. This leads to apathy and depression: I do it - it's bad, I don't do it - it's also bad.

A teenager who grew up in such a family often cannot choose where to go to study after school and who to be. Most likely, he will go where his parents say or where his classmates went, or he will delay admission without choosing a direction. Quite often teenagers go to computer games. This dependence, like no other, clearly reflects the lack of a stable value system. The game has a virtual opportunity to do something and achieve something. Passing levels, players acquire tools, skills, associates, become masters of their virtual life - here it depends on them and their actions have an obvious result. The rules and laws of the game give a sense of stability and, as a result, confidence. However, real life sags: children are lagging behind in their studies, they have no friends, there is no interest in anything other than games.

People who do not have a solid value base are permanently in a state of helplessness and despair due to their inability to change anything. There are many ways to get away from experiencing your worthlessness, guilt, shame, anxiety: alcohol, drugs, food, work, romance, and so on. Anything that allows you to quickly relieve stress. This is how addiction is formed.

What is drug addiction and how to protect loved ones from it

However, no addiction can make a person happy and his life full. Sooner or later, he begins to face the consequences of addictive behavior: it drags on, social ties collapse, problems grow like a snowball. A person with healthy boundaries, a stable value system, is unlikely to enter into a close relationship with a person who has a tendency to codependency. If you find yourself in such a relationship, it’s worth starting to deal not with your partner, but with yourself - most likely, during psychotherapy it will turn out that there were similar relationships in your parental family.

How to get out of a co-dependent relationship

If you feel that the current relationship is destructive for you, you are not confident in yourself, you don’t know how to live on, you lose meaning - seek help from a psychologist. Getting out of a codependent relationship can be difficult. Getting used to the role of a rescuer, a person feels guilty about leaving the "helpless" partner to the mercy of fate. Or the exit from the relationship is perceived as a defeat: "I failed." Or he is overwhelmed by the fear that he himself will not survive alone, although at the same time he supports himself and his family. Sometimes the partner begins to threaten suicide or violence, and then the person is in an unsafe situation and remains in the relationship out of fear.

As practice shows, it is possible to get out of co-dependent relationships by an effort of will, but this does not guarantee that in the future a person will not fall into them again. It is very difficult to single-handedly see those patterns and motives of behavior that lead to co-dependent relationships, recognize your contribution to what is happening, restore self-regulation skills and master new ways of building relationships. To get out of a co-dependent relationship, you first need to turn to yourself - learn to answer the questions "where am I, what do I feel and feel, what do I want, what are my capabilities and limits."

To develop the ability to understand your current state, you need to include in your value system the habit of answering questions:

  • what is happening to me
  • what is important to me
  • what suits me and what doesn't suit me
  • when it's time to say: "You can't do that with me."

Work with a psychologist can be carried out in one of three directions, and preferably in all at once.

Personal therapy

The main task in overcoming codependent behavior is to work with destructive attitudes, distorted self-perception, and fears. A person learns to openly express emotions, take care of himself, thereby reducing the level of anxiety and tension.

Working with a family with a family psychologist

The goal is to recognize the contribution of each family member to the current situation, restore a direct dialogue, form a trusting relationship by expressing feelings and experiences, desires and needs, as opposed to pre-existing destructive relationships based on criticism, obligation , devaluation of desires and feelings of each other.

Group work

There are anonymous groups for codependents. In a group space, a person in a safe environment masters ways of productive interaction, with the help of the leader and group members, he restores a sense of his own importance. Working in a group returns a sense of security, support, and self-confidence increases. An image of a socially adapted, successful person with personal potential is being formed.

It is important to remember that there is a way out of co-dependent relationships, both individually and for the whole family. It consists in getting to know oneself, becoming aware of experiences, learning to present them to others, and building a system of values. Bring more certainty into relationships with yourself and others.

What happens to victims of codependency is not their fault. Their character is the result of education, and their actions are determined by the ways of adapting to adverse conditions that they had to use in childhood. We do not choose which family to be born into. And at the beginning of the journey, we are dependent on our parents - this is a fact. But the good news is that as we grow up, we have the choice to try things differently, to change our lives.

There are enough examples that relationships between partners, children and parents, friends are improving - if the participants are interested in this.

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