Why Do We Become Codependent?

In the dance of love and connection, it’s natural to lean on our partners for support, affection, and companionship. However, when this reliance becomes excessive, overshadowing your identity and well-being, it may signal that you are codependent.

Understanding Codependency

Codependency manifests as an unhealthy reliance on a partner for validation, approval, and a sense of purpose. It’s a dynamic where one individual’s needs and desires are subsumed by the other, leading to an imbalance of power and autonomy. Rooted in insecurities and unresolved emotional wounds, codependency often intertwines with certain attachment styles developed in childhood.

Attachment Styles

Attachment theory sheds light on how our early experiences with caregivers shape our patterns of relating to others. Anxious-preoccupied individuals crave constant reassurance and validation, while fearful-avoidant types may struggle with intimacy and vulnerability. These insecure attachment styles can pave the way for codependency, fostering patterns of over-reliance or emotional withdrawal in relationships.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”

– Paulo Cohelo
Codependent - Gambling Example

Signs of being codependent

R ecognising the signs of codependency is the first step toward breaking free from its grip. Are you constantly seeking your partner’s approval? Do you prioritize their needs over your own, at the expense of your well-being? Feeling anxious or incomplete when apart from your partner could be a red flag. Codependency often manifests as a lack of boundaries, enabling destructive behaviours, and a pervasive fear of abandonment. Codependency undermines the essence of a healthy relationship — mutual respect, autonomy, and support. It fosters a dynamic where one partner’s emotional needs overshadow the other’s, leading to resentment and dissatisfaction. Moreover, codependency stifles personal growth and prevents individuals from cultivating their own sense of self-worth and fulfillment.

  1. An intrinsic need for the approval of others
  2. Self-worth linked to what others think about you
  3. A habit of taking on more work than you can handle, to earn praise or lighten another’s load
  4. A tendency to apologise or take on blame in order to retain peace
  5. A pattern of avoiding conflict
  6. A tendency to minimise or ignore your own desires
  7. Excessive concern about a loved one’s habits or behaviors
  8. A habit of making decisions for others or trying to “manage” them
  9. A mood that reflects how others feel, rather than yourself
  10. Guilt or anxiety when doing something for yourself
  11. Doing things you don’t really want to, in order to please others
  12. Idealising partners or other loved ones, often to the point of maintaining relationships that leave you unfulfilled
  13. Overwhelming fears of rejection or abandonment

With codependency, the need to support others goes beyond what is considered healthy, normal behaviour.

If you behave in codependent ways, you don’t just offer support temporarily, such as when a loved one faces a setback. Instead, you tend to focus on caretaking and caring for others to the point that you begin to define yourself in relation to their needs. This can also be linked to dissonance and some cases has even be attributed to neurodivergence in some individuals. Visit my article on dissonance here.

Healthier Attachment

How to change codependent behaviour


In Conclusion

I n the intricate tapestry of relationships, codependency can cast a shadow over the beauty of connection and intimacy. By recognising the signs and addressing underlying attachment patterns, individuals can embark on a journey towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. It’s a process of rediscovering oneself, reclaiming autonomy, and fostering a bond built on mutual respect and authenticity. So let’s unravel this, paving the way for love that liberates and nurtures the souls of both partners.

For an even more in-depth dive into the psychology behind this topic, take a look at this article from PsychCentral.

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