Co-dependency

What else does a relationship need besides connecting love? Essential is a mutual respect, common view of life, harmonic sexual life, same attitude to financial management and a stable empirical emotional intelligence. These are the basic pillars, without them the relationship is going to collapse, since they are pillars. Most of the people think the relationship collapses when a pair gets separated. However get separated is just the closing. The relationship already has started to collapse when our partner hasn’t been feeling good since a while, desires other things. Desires other partner, different or separated programs, other topics of talk, other rules or other atmosphere.

Why is it so difficult to find a right partner?

To choose the right partner is one of the most difficult life task because our needs change within years and our personality continuously changes as well. Our childhood examples, patterns, traumas and experiences are crucial in a partner choosing process because they determine considerable our behaviour in a relationships. For instance if we “learnt” – saw – in our family as child that “I must take everything” or “I must stay in silence” obviously we are going to follow (not always but most of the times) the same pattern in our relationship as well, like choosing subconsciously an abusive partner following the “learnt” subjugation.

The reason of emotional collapsing in a relationship is mainly that the partners don’t even know themselves and don’t improve their own personality. Therefore they don’t know each other as well and don’t know how to get the partner’s respect, appreciation and love.

What is co-dependency?

We do a lot of things to make a relationship or a marriage work but wise to know that there are boundaries. Someone with healthy personality never let anyone to pass those boundaries. There are things what we can forgive or condone but there are thing what we can’t or don’t want. Those people who always forgive for everything and over-indulge all the time just to keep their partner next to, they are co-dependent.

To be co-dependent can’t exist alone, always requires another person and this is pa(i)rlour game which makes both sides become disordered.

Co-dependency is a process, starting from its development and its upholding both part’s personality declines and can end in different personality disorders. Co-dependency is part of the group of anxieties. Its traits are need of solicitude, sticking to the partner and the fear of loneliness. The co-dependent person is always in a constant mental unsatisfied condition, when his/her own needs are just but doesn’t use or doesn’t even know those methods what with would be able to easy the fear of loneliness and gain some courage to withdraw a bit from the partner onto a healthy level. Both of them would be able to breath and the suffocating ambiance of the relationship would be stopped. This person never makes any decision alone, he/she always needs a kind of a parent who does.

The most common example: Julie has a just expectation that Joe doesn’t cheat on her. If he did, Julie would lost trust in Joe and her feeling of being safe. But to cope with (facing with what this relationship is missing) moves to the direction of forgiveness without reparation. Why? Because Julie is so terrified of something (terrified of being alone, losing status, other people’s opinion or being a single mother) and that’s why she keeps Joe next to her doesn’t matter what it costs. Cognitive dissonancy appears in her, but to release the internal tension of dissonancy Julie uses self-justification to explain to herself what she did and why.

Like:

1. I love so much Joe, I can forgive everything to him.

2. I must keep the family together because this is the best for our children.

3. What’s going to happen with our properties, summer vacations or social status?

So Julie forgives to Joe, that’s how she calls it. Actually she compromises without reparation, exchanging her self-esteem for status or properties and this happens usually without even saying a word. The marital infidelity remains a secret most of the time. They don’t face with the existing serious problems in their relationship and they don’t work on to repair it.

Development of co-dependency

The co-dependent person is mostly from a dysfunctional family. If the parent dominated over the child (misinterpretation – bringing up strictly) most likely the child wouldn’t have been able to develop an independent personality (self) and in adulthood also will need the state of subordination. Will depend on his/her partner or if there is no partner will depend on other people because to solve everything alone is so difficult.

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Often becomes co-dependent a child whose parents set up strict, inflexible and austere codes of morals and forced the child to keep them even with using abuse. The basic pattern of co-dependency after all is the child-mother relationship. Those mothers’ children become co-dependent whose attitude is all about to please other people. Those who are self-sacrificing, serving others without expectations and whom deny their own needs and must serve other people’s well-being. Kind of a mental obligation to sacrifice own needs for the family members and serve them physically and mentally as well.

A child who grows up with a self-sacrificing mother is going to develop a low frustration tolerance, incapacity of waiting and unstable self-esteem. Usually this child estimates himself/herself very low, has the incapacity of recognizing and expressing own needs and doesn’t go for his/her own ideas or needs. Becoming a passive, receptive adult who waits for care and help. That help usually comes but mainly from a partner who is abusive. This is the pattern which repeats itself subconsciously, the need of being subjugated.

A child who grows up in this kind of malfunctioning mother-child relationship is going to choose a partner whom takes care of him/her, whom with doesn’t need to take so much responsibility, asks more and more and becoming demanding and then becoming frustrated and angry till the partner is becoming more and more active and taking more and more responsibility. Co-dependent person plays games in his/her relationship or marriage. He/she is the one who is too accommodating, who needs help, mainly a defenceless person who tries to set up his/her life on the way not taking too much responsibility. Often uses his/her children to get more help or support because in this way it’s guaranteed to get it. In these kind of relationships don’t exist real intimacy and equality which are essential.

Traits of co-dependency:

  1. The co-dependent person is persuaded of being responsible for the partner’s and children’s emotions, thoughts, actions, choice, decisions, well-being and destiny. Feels tense, regret or sense of guilt if the other has a problem. Believes that relationship is an interfusion where she/he must take over other’s burden of choices and obsessively believes he/she must help to solve problems and give advices.
  2. Low self-esteem: often blames and scourges him/herself but becoming indignant at getting criticized or judged. Refuses compliments and appreciations (but this is just a mask because he/she really yearns for them) becoming depressed and feeling bad and useless if doesn’t get positive feedbacks. Feels guilty when he/she spends money for himself/herself. So much afraid of making mistakes, wants to do everything perfectly. His/her communication and mindset is mainly about “should” and “must” schemas.
  3. Repression (suppression, retorsion): co-dependent person is so much afraid of knowing who he/she really is. The reason of this fear is mainly in his/her childhood was blamed very often (also in adulthood can happen) and established a fear of a self like “I’m bad” or “I’m stupid” The often felt “I’m bad” – sense of guilt elbows out of the positive emotions of the self-image from the mind. Repressing positive emotions because he/she is afraid of retorsion which can come from anywhere.
  4. Compulsive: feels strong worry about other’s problem. Small things can keep him/her disturbed. Continuously controls/verifies others and feels emotional satisfaction when able to catch someone making a mistake. Compulsively (he/she calls: very diligently) works, strictly penny-pinching or spend lavishly not finding the happy medium.
  5. Control: doesn’t let things happen or go on the natural way. Believes he/she knows better than others that how to behave or act. Using several different kind of tools to get control, like make others feeling guilty, forcing, threat, advising, dominancy, manipulation or gaining pity. Cen tell exactly how others should behave (husband, wife, children, grandparents) but incapable to tolerate other kind of behaviors because his/her tolerance threshold is so low. While controlling everybody she/he feels that being controlled by others and circumstances.
  6. Denial: doesn’t recognize problems or pretends that those problems don’t exist. Typical that she/he would like to make it look everything is great and fine rather than showing or communicating the reality. Without any real plan he/she comforts herself/himself like; “It’s not that bad as it seems like”, “There are other worse marriages!” so everything is fine. Closes the eyes to not see, or not perceive others’ need because he/she feels being incapable to satisfy them. Main belief is, if things are not told that means they don’t exist.
  7. Dependency: terrified of refusal, abandonment and being alone that’s why takes also very serious abuses (verbal, physical) as well from those he/she is attached to. Not able to feel self-love, self-acceptance and feels nobody loves her/him being on the way he/she is in real. Doesn’t believe that he/she would be able to stay or live alone, so bears even embarrassing situations till he/she is left or abandoned. Holds on to that person whom he/she depends, doesn’t matter the cost.
  8. Communication disorders: doesn’t say what he/she thinks and doesn’t think what he/she says. Often lies but they are white-lies so this behaviour is not condemnable according to her. Has difficulties to get to the point in talks and often gets confused what exactly he/she wanted to say. Not able to say no and just after others’ stated opinions he/she is able to tell his/hers.
  9. Weak boundaries: often claims that not being able to tolerate the partner’s or child’s expressions anymore but let others offend him/her, takes every insults and in the end at one point explodes and becoming completely intolerant. Can calm down after but it’s a circle, so starts all over again.
  10. Lack of trust: Doesn’t trust himself/herself, own decisions, own emotions, friends or other people if they make him/her to face with some things which are not desirable. Wants to trust those whom are unworthy of trust.
  11. Anger: often feels anger, fright and offense but afraid of own anger because he/she believe if he/she shows it, going to be left or abandoned. Repressed anger.
  12. Sexual problems: having the ward role in bed. Tries to ease own anger and offense in sexuality. Afraid of losing control and tries to keep distance emotionally. Has difficulties to express own needs in sex, often forces himself/herself to have it.
  13. Loyalty problems: coming from a dysfunctional family makes an ambivalent relation to his/her own family. He/she would like to maintain a good relationship with the parents, getting separated from them, accepting what they give but in the same time feels anger about they try to interfere with his/her own life.
  14. Progression: after a while becoming depressed and experiencing isolation in the family. The repressed anger turns into self-aggression. Like over-eating, using drugs or alcohol, looking for new addiction.

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Co-dependency is a personality disorder, mainly develops in women because they are more susceptible to falling into the background by their social education, often their independency also influenced by external circumstances. Co-dependency becomes a personality trait, a role and even an identity in the frame of socialization of the family. Its development starts in the origin family and continues with choosing a partner. Our society is success and achievement orientated. Our dual-earner model requires a minimum capacity which is an autonomously working and living man and women, doesn’t support co-dependent relationships. The co-dependent person after not a long time becoming a burden to the partner, whom after in something else or in someone else will look for joyful and energetic recover possibilities.

One of the family members’ strongly controlling behaviour is a stress source for the whole family which “forces” the others to escape or counter-attack (coping styles). That’s why there are so much tense in a family which has a co-dependent member. Another family member revolt but they can’t break out from the “I am here for you!” trap. “How can you leave me? I’m sacrificing everything for you?”

After these typical co-dependent sentences the members struggle and get stick in the relationship. They learn how to adapt the controller and his/her behaviour. “Family is the most non-dangerous place to release repressed anger by controlling others for adults.”

Therapy: self-knowledge and personal development is essential technique for changing a co-dependent relationship. The learnt helplessness which is from the childhood can be changed just if the co-dependent person can believe that being able to change to be true and willing to learn new coping mechanisms.

Picture: centroapi.com.mx

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