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Co-dependency relationship - How to free yourself from it

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Co-dependency relationship - How to free yourself from it

The term co-dependency is usually used in connection with addictive disorders such as alcoholism or drug addiction. In this case, the addict strongly involves his relative in his own suffering. The support demanded or provided, however, is not helpful, but often further promotes the addiction. But even without addiction, co-dependency can develop in the partnership.

What is co-dependency?

The topic "co-dependency relationship" is, as already mentioned in the introduction, strongly linked to the topic of addiction. The healthy partner protects the addict by helping him to hide the problem from other people or to talk it down. Unpleasant incidents are covered up. Sometimes the healthy partner is even willing to support the addiction financially or even to provide the addictive substance.

The addicted partner often deliberately manipulates the other in order to make life easier for himself. This is not done out of malice, but is an expression of the addiction disease. Ultimately, both parties are unhappy and the relationship is doomed to fail sooner or later. The same applies if the co-dependency exists without the addiction disease.

Co-dependency without a classic addiction is when one partner is "addicted" to the love and affirmation of the other. The cause is often an attachment disorder. The feelings and behaviors are in many respects comparable to addiction-related codependency.

With the full spectrum of co-dependency and the special Challenges for relatives has been the subject of research at the University of Lübeck.

Co-dependency relationship: The special features at a glance

Co-dependency in the relationship manifests itself in the fact that one partner is emotionally dependent on the other is. He or she is firmly convinced that, in the event of a Separation not to be able to go on living. Strong fears develop from this, which are reflected in daily behavior. Thoughts constantly revolve around the partner. There is a meticulous search for the smallest signs that indicate a problem.

Co-dependent people try to control their partner in order to control their own (loss) fears. This includes, for example, constantly demanding reassurance:

  • "Do you still love me?"
  • "You're not leaving me, are you?"
  • "Is everything okay between us?"

Self-esteem dwindles

The entire everyday life revolves around pleasing the other person and doing everything right for him/her, so as not to be left. One's own personality is completely undermined in the process. The Self-esteem is visibly dwindling. Unfortunately, co-dependent people are not aware that their behavior causes the exact opposite of what they want.

A stable partnership is based on trust and equality. Clinging and self-abandonment drive a healthy partner into flight. If a separation actually occurs, those affected try everything in their power to win back the ex-partner.

co dependence relationship signs

Am I co-dependent? Here are 10 signs you can recognize

A certain degree of emotional co-dependence in a partnership is harmless. After all, it is painful when a loved one separates. No one wants that to happen. However, the boundary between an intimate bond and a morbid love obsession is fluid in many cases. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following ten warning signs. You...

  1. Your mind is occupied exclusively with your partner. Other life issues outside the relationship seem unimportant to you.
  2. Have no friends and hobbies outside the partnership.
  3. Can handle criticism very badly, even if it is friendly and constructive.
  4. The thought of a possible separation evokes strong fears or even suicidal thoughts in you.
  5. Need constant praise and reassurance from your partner.
  6. Suffer from strong Jealousy.
  7. Are not able to stand up for your own needs.
  8. Asking your partner for advice on every little thing and shying away from making your own decisions.
  9. You do everything for your partner, e.g. you voluntarily take over the entire household. There is no equality or division of labor between you.
  10. Search anxiously in everyday life for signs that you may have upset your partner.

The partner as a means of addiction

At this point, it is useful to relate the topic of "co-dependent relationship" once again to co-dependency in addictive disorders. In the case of a co-dependent relationship, the partner without an attachment disorder takes on the role of addict for the partner with an attachment disorder.

Why is co-dependence so dangerous in a relationship?

The co dependence in the Relationship is not only emotionally draining for both parties, it can even be dangerous. This is the case when the attachment-disordered partner meets a manipulative person who exploits the bondage of the supposedly weaker person to his or her advantage. Often, especially narcissistically predisposed people deliberately choose insecure partners.

By the way, here we have an interesting study for you about the Attachment and relationship behavior of narcissists.

The consequence of such a connection can be emotional or even physical abuse. The dependent partner does not manage to get out of the relationship because the love addiction is stronger than the mind. The one endures every humiliation just not to lose his partner.

The fact that such a relationship can cause physical and psychological damage needs no further explanation. This makes it all the more important not to keep quiet about the topic of "co-dependency relationships".

Co-dependency relationship: 7 steps to overcome it

Overcoming co-dependency in a relationship is not easy, but it is possible. This 7-step plan can help you do it. You deserve a loving and appreciative relationship!

  1. The first step to Change consists in the Knowledgethat there is a problem at all. Stop telling yourself that your Fear of lossYour clinging and sacrifice are normal.
  2. Once you have identified the problem for yourself, the next step is to learn, open talk about them. Confide in friends and/or your family. A neutral assessment from the outside can be very helpful in many cases.
  3. Question the reasons for your behavior. Co-dependence usually has a deep psychological cause. Low self-esteem almost always plays a role in believing that your happiness in life is dependent on another person. Work specifically on improving your Self-esteem strengthen - if necessary with therapeutic support.
  4. Question your partnership: How has your partner dealt with your behavior so far? Has he or she taken advantage of your emotional insecurity? Or has your partner always tried to make you feel safe, but has reached his or her own limits in the process? If not, couples therapy can help you find a healthy basis again.
  5. Build self-esteem: For many co-dependent people, their entire self-esteem is based on the relationship. Other life issues are neglected. This is exactly where you should start: You are a somebody outside of the relationship, too! Find a hobby that excites you and build a circle of friends independent of your partner. Realize your professional Objectives.
  6. Every person has his very own Beliefs that have been shaped by upbringing and personal experience. What are your inner beliefs about love and partnership? Are your expectations realistic? Questioning this once can help not to get into a co-dependency again.
  7. The last and probably most important step is, Forgive yourself. You are not weak just because you got into an emotional dependency. There are reasons for this that you have (hopefully) recognized and are working on. Recognizing that your behavior has not been healthy requires a great deal of strength. Be proud of yourself!
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Conclusion: Ways out of co-dependence in the relationship

The topic "co-dependency relationship" is very shameful for those affected. This applies to both addiction-based and emotional dependence. Getting out of such a unhealthy relationship is not easy to solve. With the necessary Self-awareness and willpower, however, it can succeed. Unfortunately, the road to get there is often long and painful.

The most elementary step in overcoming emotional co-dependency is to strengthen one's own self-esteem. This is best achieved in the context of psychotherapy. But there are also things you can do in your everyday life to slowly free yourself from your emotional co-dependency. toxic relationship and/or from your clinging behavior.

Be honest with yourself and deal with your suffering. No one who is in any form of codependency is happy! Actively address the problem and get the necessary support.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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