What is co-dependency?
Co-dependency is a condition that leads to a dysfunctional relationship between the person with the condition and others. Put simply, a co-dependent is a person who is addicted to helping others in a way that exceeds what is considered the normal caring behavior is shown to another person. They need to be needed and it has been documented that the person with the co-dependency can be so strong and powerful that they will cause the other person to become needy. This is called enabling and the enabler will start to display signs that allow the co-dependent’s problems and behaviors to continue. For example, the enabler will purposely overlook negative, harmful actions and will make excuses for the co-dependent person, preventing them from becoming independent or even from getting treatment. A co-dependent often has a belief that they are the only person who really understands, the only person who can help, and they will create situations and issues to reinforce their need to help and to remain a focal part of a person’s life. So to summarise, a co-dependency is an addiction to being needed.
Signs and symptoms of co-dependency
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is co-dependent, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you/they expressed a feeling of being demeaned, hurt, or offended if someone close to you/them has said they don’t need your/their help?
- Have you/they had others resort to arguing with you/them or challenging you/them in their frustration because they want you/them to stop trying to help them?
- If you/they were asked by someone for money to pay bills or buy food, etc. and you/they know they have an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, would you/they give them the money?
- When someone shares a life or relationship problem with you/them but doesn’t ask for your/their help or advice, do you/they offer it to them regardless?
- When you/they reflect on your/their relationships, do you/they realize you/they are surrounded by people who need you/them?
- Do you/they ever find yourself/themselves making excuses for the needy people in your/their life?
- If someone you/they love or is close to you/them has an addiction or emotional problem that affects their behavior do you/they avoid challenging them?
- Do you/they measure your/their self-esteem against how much someone needs and depends on you/them?
- Do you/they ever remind people that they need you/them and ask them where they would be if you/they were not in their life?