All people in a relationship have some sort of dependency towards each other. They share a natural bond which brings a sense of belonging and security to each individual in the relationship. A child is dependent on its mother and father, siblings and friends are dependent on each other, a wife is dependent on her husband, and vice versa.
Human beings are known as social animals and always have a deep-rooted need to seek out other people and forge a bond. This kind of dependency to a certain extent is harmless. The problem starts when it becomes an emotional crutch for one and then it turns into an obsession or disease.
What Leads To Codependency
Codependency is one such compulsive disorder which is signified by irrational behavior one learns to display due to a myriad of problems faced within a dysfunctional family. This behavior was first observed in a study done about 10 years ago within a group of alcoholic families.
Hence, it was observed that any abusive behavior within the family like alcoholism, emotional or sexual abuse, violent outbursts, continuous or highly disapproving behavior etc can lead to a person to form a codependent nature in order to find an escape route.
Misery is also the breeding ground for such kind of a disorder. The feeling of neglect and abandonment one feels n a dysfunctional family leads one to become self-depreciating and overly caring about others.
might occur in any kind of relationship, a mother or father with children, a lover, with a colleague, with a sibling etc. This kind of relationship can be hereditarily handed down from one generation to another as well. Any kind of malfunction in a family like a divorce; might be the trigger to this kind of behavioral disorder.
Characteristics of a Codependent
Codependency leads one to behave in an extremely obsessed way towards the other person in the relationship. A codependent person will always behave in a masochistic manner, forgoing all thoughts of self care and will only be showing excessive care for the other person and will be preoccupied with the thoughts and needs of others. They will make major sacrifices to keep the relationship going.
A person who is codependent will have an extremely low self-esteem and will be generally dissatisfied in the relationship. They will only be able to get some sort of satisfaction by controlling the life of the other person in the equation and will always seek outside oneself for any kind of happiness. They like to attract the pity and attention of others through their misery and sacrifice.
The initial caring and nurturing that one grows to like, gradually turns into an obsessive clinginess. Such a person grows insecure and highly possessive and usually sees themselves as ‘martyrs’ whose only aim is to take care of other’s needs.
One might argue that it merely sounds like a description of selfless love, however it is not so. This kind of behavior will ruin a relationship as it will become overtly possessive and destructive in the long run. They are unwilling to see any negative in the person they love and will go to any lengths to ‘take care’ of them.
This creates an unhealthy dependency on the part of the other person and also creates a feeling of being needed for the other. The cycle continues destroying both the people in the equation.
Because of the feeling of being redundant and unworthy, they tend to gravitate towards whatever temporary relief one can find to get rid of the misery. It is an extremely self-destructive behavior which might later lead to addictions like alcoholism, drugs and sex.
Codependents tend to drift towards dysfunctional mates who are in need of their care and “looking after” and then hold on to that relationship, no matter how harmful they might be. This is the basic reason why a woman in a abusive relationship tend to stay in it or move towards another one. The feeling of reforming another person is a very strong one among codependents.
Many codependents are unaware of their behavior and are confused at their feeling of masochistic sufferance. And if they are aware about the problem, they don’t want to talk about it out of a sense of self-pity and embarrassment.
Traits Of A Codependent
The traits of a codependent are easy to sight but often ignored as mere feelings of true and selfless love. These traits can be a feeling of self-sacrifice for the happiness of the dependent, doing more for the other than what is entitled, feeling responsible and guilty for the action of the other, an obsessive need to keep the relationship going, a need for acknowledgment and recognition, extreme possessiveness and lack of trust, a tendency to keep one’s feelings closed, a masochistic inclination, fear of change or fear of being abandoned etc. These are only a few of the characteristics of such behavioral pattern and there are others depending on the person and the environment.
Understanding And Moving Out
The first step to getting oneself away from this kind of a relationship is to first analyze, understand, acknowledge and accept the problems.There are many kinds of counseling and therapy available to come out of a codependent relationship but for any kind of treatment or counseling to work, one must first identify and accept the condition.
Also, because it is a problem which has its roots in the childhood of a person, family therapy will help to get things into perspective by bringing everybody together.Meeting other people who share the same kind of problem will help you to feel less vindicated. Sharing the problems with other people in the group and hearing their experiences will help in creating a feeling of normalcy.
The other important thing to keep in mind is to get rid of any unhealthy addictions one has started to get attached to.There is no need to despair if you are in a codependent relationship, because it has been determined as a very common condition. There are extremely good resources available to help you with your life and a little bit self-esteem, counseling and therapy are what you need to get the balance back into your life.