Signs Of Codependency

May 2020 Signs Of Codependency

A codependent relationship occurs when a person is reliant on another to fulfill their needs. Specifically, these needs can be spiritual fulfillment, emotional wellness, self-esteem, finances, and even physical needs. Understanding the signs of codependency can help you identify issues within your relationship.

Often, codependency occurs in relationships where one or both individuals have a mental health or substance use disorder. 

What Exactly is Codependency?

Codependency involves fulfilling the needs and wants of another person at the expense of your autonomy, feelings, self-esteem, or safety. To add, most codependent relationships are the result of unhealthy attachment styles developed during childhood within your family

For example, as a child, you learn expectations within relationships first with your relationship with parents or caregivers. Children depend on their parents for all of their needs—food, shelter, love, safety, acceptance, etc. Therefore, when a parent or caregiver neglects these needs, an individual can develop an unhealthy attachment style. 

In addition, some children fulfill the needs of the caregiver instead of the other way around. Children who need to care for a parent or caregiver with a mental health condition, physical disability, or substance use disorder can develop unhealthy attachment issues leading to codependent relationships later in life.

What Are the Signs of Codependency?

Recognizing the signs of codependency is the first step to making positive changes in your relationships. Before you can solve any problem, you must understand the issue to identify what is occurring.

Signs and symptoms of codependency include:

  • Difficulty saying “no” to the requests of others, even when these requests make you feel uncomfortable
  • Self-esteem primarily depends on other people liking you, and you change yourself to be liked
  • Avoiding conflicts with others or feeling like you are “walking on eggshells” around another person
  • Feeling a strong need to “rescue” or “fix” people who struggle with addiction or other issues even when these problems cannot be solved by you alone
  • Apologizing for or making excuses for another person’s harmful behavior
  • Giving all of your free time to the other person and having no time for yourself
  • Losing your identity or sense of self within a relationship
  • Failing to enforce boundaries with the other person
  • Feeling the need to ask for permission before doing anything, even when those activities have nothing to do with the other person

While in every relationship you might need to help the other person when they struggle, in a codependent relationship, your identity is built around caring for the other person. Often, people with codependent tendencies tend to seek out others with problems, such as drug or alcohol addiction.

Individuals with substance use disorders can maintain healthy relationships with other people. However, a codependent person often enables the addict’s behavior due to a lack of boundaries, an inability to deal with conflicts, and excusing the other person’s addiction. 

The Lasting Negative Effects of Codependency

Codependency can have lasting negative effects on people, such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Need to appear perfect or keep up appearances
  • Difficulty setting limits and establishing boundaries 
  • Inability to say “no” to others
  • Enabling destructive behavior in other people
  • Need to control others, even resorting to manipulation

The negative effects of codependency revolve around needing to fix other people to feel good about yourself. While helping others can boost your self-esteem, when your self-esteem is solely reliant on fixing damaged individuals, you allow yourself to be taken advantage of by others.

In addition, people with codependent tendencies might attempt to sabotage the other person to keep them “damaged” and prevent their growth. Moreover, they could feel threatened when an addict begins recovery because they need to feel validated by helping a person who struggles.

How to Break Codependency

The first step to breaking this relationship dynamic is recognizing the signs of codependency. You need to develop self-awareness to break codependency because one of hallmark signs of codependency is losing your sense of self. Therapy can help you navigate new ways of thinking about yourself and the world around you.

Other tips to break codependency include:

  • Finding friends and activities outside of your codependent relationship
  • Learning how to say “no” to the demands of others
  • Catch yourself when you have negative thoughts, especially about yourself
  • Accept the other person for who they are without attempting to change them
  • Communicate honestly with yourself and the other person about how you feel

An unhealthy attachment style leading to codependency is not a life sentence. Thus, you can improve your relationship skills over time and learn how to build healthy relationships with other people. In addition, building your own sense of identity is critical to breaking codependent tendencies.

Treatment Options for Codependency

Recovery from codependency involves confronting negative thought patterns that lead to unhealthy behaviors. Behavioral therapy from several different therapeutic modalities can help you challenge the unhealthy thoughts that result in codependency.

Some of the best treatment options for codependency include:

Codependency is not a mental health diagnosis. Rather, codependency is an unhealthy relationship pattern caused by past experiences. You can heal from this toxic relationship pattern by recognizing the signs of codependency, breaking the unhealthy pattern, and learning new ways to manage relationships.

Treat Codependency in Palm Desert, CA

People in relationships with a person struggling with substance abuse often lose their identity while helping the other person. Family therapy at Phoenix Rising Recovery in Palm Desert, California can help you and your loved one learn better ways to maintain your relationship. Visit our admissions page today to rise above codependency.