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If you have spent any time reading about relationships, trauma, or unhealthy relationship behavior, then you have probably heard of codependency. It seems to be the latest buzzword around dysfunctional relationships but it’s not new.
The term codependent first started as a concept used to describe the relationship a drug addict or alcoholic had with anyone that took care of them, providing shelter, food, or money. However, over the years the term’s definition has expanded past being in a relationship with a person that was addicted to a substance. The term has now taken on a broader meaning when it comes to certain types of unhealthy connections to another person.
Understanding codependence is important for anyone but especially after a divorce. If you were in a codependent marriage, you may end up in another codependent relationship. So, it’s important to grasp this concept so you can move forward in a healthy happy way.
Being dependent means that a person has to rely on someone or something else to live or function. For example, if you are a teenager and you live with your parents, you may depend on them to pay the household bills so you can live. If you don’t have a car, you may depend on the bus to get you places. If you are married, you may depend on your spouse to pick up your children from school at a certain time.
There is nothing wrong with the idea of depending on someone or something as long as it’s a healthy level of dependence. When you think about it, we all indirectly depend on each other to function in a civilized society. So, the concept of healthy dependence is fairly normal.
However, codependence is different. Codependence is when a person pours all of their energy, time, emotions, and attention into someone or something without acknowledging their own needs. Codependence is an unhealthy type of dependence where boundaries have not been established or acknowledged. Meaning, it’s difficult to identify where you end and your partner begins because your identity has become enmeshed within their identity.
Many times people involved in a codependent relationship mimic behaviors that are similar to having an addictive personality, or enabling someone that has an addiction.
Here are some signs that you may have a codependent personality or have allowed yourself to be involved in a codependent relationship:
When you have a codependent personality and you display codependent behavior, you usually attract people in your life that will use you. Many times, these are people that have specific personality traits such as:
The scary thing about codependency is that even if you leave a codependent relationship, you may end up in another one. The reason for this is, even though you have changed partners, you have not changed yourself. You have not done the inner work necessary to heal, recognize who you are, what you need, and create healthy boundaries in order to attract healthy relationships.
Once you are able to do inner healing work, you will have a higher level of confidence and attract people who respect, admire, and care about you. Most importantly, they will be self-sufficient, capable of taking care of themselves, and able to control their own emotions without blaming you for their feelings.
A codependent relationship can destroy your confidence because it eats away at your self-esteem, belief in your abilities, self-worth, and value as an individual human being. It also takes away from a feeling of having control of your life and having the power to make decisions on your own. Your life is basically being dictated by the behaviors, feelings, and emotions of that other person.
A codependent relationship can be saved if both people in the relationship are willing to confront the issue, realize that they are in a codependent relationship, and work to make changes. This may need to involve a therapist or counselor to help you and your partner identify codependent behavior and develop a strategy to end the behavior.
If you are the codependent self-sacrificing person, it will also require you to set firm boundaries and acknowledge that you must put your needs first. It will require that your partner learn to take care of themselves without your constant attention.
The healing process will require a lot of work on self-awareness, internal self-development, boundary setting, deep emotional healing, and a complete behavioral change. But, if you and your partner are willing to do the work, it is possible that the relationship can be saved.
Codependent relationships, unfortunately, start do to a person mimicking what they saw or experienced in childhood. It may be helpful to include individual therapy in your life to help you understand your past experiences how to heal your codependent adult behavior patterns. Just because you experienced this type of behavior in your childhood does not mean you have to keep experiencing it in your adulthood.
Ready to start the process of gaining more clarity, confidence, and courage? I have created 3 simple steps to help you on your journey.
Don’t let more time pass by, reclaim your life today!
Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love