Codependency in a Relationship

People with codependency issues usually form one-sided, emotionally damaging or even abusive relationships. Codependency usually leads to unhealthy patterns in communication, expectations, and behavior, damaging a person’s ability to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Co-dependent behavior is usually a result of growing up in a dysfunctional family – something we learn from our family members during childhood.

Do you Come from a Dysfunctional Family?

A dysfunctional family can be recognized through unnatural and edgy relationships between its members. Furthermore, behavior patterns in an unhealthy family are negative with lots of neglect, a lack of support, inflexibility, drug and/or alcohol addiction, and abuse going on.

These unhealthy relationships and behavior patterns in early childhood often shape us in adults with an insecure attachment that affects relationships.

Three types of insecure attachment styles formed in the nuclear family are:

•        Disorganized attachment

•        Anxious-ambivalent attachment

•        Anxious-avoidant attachment

If you grew up in a family with emotionally distant parents, where you never knew what to expect from your caregivers, it is likely that you developed co-dependent behavior as an adult. You may lack self-awareness and struggle to recognize and manage your emotions. In addition, you may be oversensitive to rejection and constantly show a need for approval. Or you may focus only on problems in your relationship which triggers off anxiety and avoidant behaviors.

Also, a lack of support during your childhood most likely taught you either not to trust others or to cling to those who care for you.

Differentiation and Dependency

The level of personal differentiation indicates the degree to which we can think, feel, and act independently. For example, people with a high level of differentiation are able to remain resilient while experiencing stress and anxiety – they stay in good control of their feelings and remain sturdy and composed. If you are able to differentiate yourself, you will be less likely to get offended easily. Also, you will be able to soothe yourself easily and successfully cope with challenges.

On the contrary, individuals with a low level of differentiation usually need to depend on others to function properly. Furthermore, in stressful situations, these people normally develop anxious reactions that often have a destructive effect.

Insecure attachment and dependency in a relationship are usually expressed through mixed emotions such as profound fear of rejection and dependence on another person for our own identity.

There are some signs in your behavior and communication style that suggest you may be in a dependent relationship. 

1.    You feel responsible for your partner’s feelings and often ignore your own needs while taking responsibility for theirs.

2.    You always feel guilty whether it is your fault or not. You believe that you are responsible for your partner’s feelings. At the same time, you are often unforgiving to yourself.

3.    You feel disappointing your partner and constantly try to please them because you believe that, if you don’t, they will leave you.

4.    You struggle with low self-esteem and don’t know how to express your thought and feelings in an assertive, yet respectful way.

5.    You feel emotionally disconnected. You struggle to build and keep up intimate relationships, often feeling lonely and isolated.

Learning to talk about what you are feeling and seeking out the assistance of a life coach can help facilitate a change in the behavior pattern.