Building healthy relationships is a cornerstone for our overall mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult for people who live with codependency. Codependent behavior can be destructive in a variety of ways, but with the proper guidance and professional care, it can be overcome. If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about is struggling with codependency, consider the following warning signs and contact a mental health care professional for help.
Codependency is a behavioral and emotional condition that can negatively affect a person’s ability to have a healthy, functional relationship. While the following is not a fully comprehensive list of characteristics, most codependent people will exhibit at least a few of these traits.
It’s normal to enjoy pleasing people we care about. However, this natural desire to strengthen social bonds becomes unhealthy and codependent when an individual places too much importance on receiving approval, whether it is from their parents, spouse, significant other, or peers. Codependent personalities tend to become hurt when they feel like their efforts are not recognized, applauded or rewarded. They may also feel the need to go “above and beyond” in order to win love and/or approval. In essence, codependents gauge their self-worth through the eyes of others.
If you feel a strong link between your self-worth and the approval or accolades of others, your feelings may come from codependency.
Codependent individuals may feel an obligation to care for a person, not because of true feelings of love, but out of fear that without this care, the other person may suffer. A person who is codependent may unintentionally be drawn to people who have a perceived “weakness” or unhealthy trait, giving the codependent person a feeling of being needed.
If you feel the need to maintain a relationship because you’re afraid the other person needs your love to survive, or you feel an intense responsibility for the actions and behavior of others, you may be dealing with codependency.
People struggling with codependency often feel the need to do whatever it takes to stay connected to another person, even if the relationship is toxic. This often stems from a fear of abandonment, discomfort with being alone or an exaggerated sense of guilt for taking care of their own needs. Codependents often feel lost or lonely when they are not in a relationship, which further drives their need to save whatever relationship they are in currently.
If you’re finding yourself constantly thinking that you have to “make it work,” or you’ve realized you’re sacrificing a lot of your own needs and boundaries in order to fix a relationship, you may be dealing with codependency.
People with codependency issues often feel as though they can’t trust their own judgement and need frequent input from others to feel safe enough to make a decision. Sometimes codependent people may even feel as though they cannot trust their own emotions, especially if they have been through traumatic relationships in the past.
If you constantly need advice from others before making a decision, or are afraid to trust your own instincts, you may be suffering from codependency.
Remember, not everyone who experiences these traits is necessarily codependent. And not all codependents will experience every one of these characteristics. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, seek the guidance of a qualified mental health professional.
At Counsel for Hope, we specialize in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including codependency. Please reach out to us for more information or to set up an appointment.