The codependent person becomes a human doing rather than a human being. His or her esteem is not self-based. It is based on the opinions of others. Self-esteem starts developing at birth, maybe even in utero. People who are codependent often grew up in a household with the same issues. What we grow up with we perceive as normal, those very behaviors and attitudes we will seek in adult relationships.
Most codependent relationships don’t end in tragedy. But they do keep people from living the full, rewarding lives they could be enjoying. “Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself”. “It’s kind of a weird phrase, and it doesn’t sound like it means a one-sided relationship. But that’s what it is. It means you’re trying to make the relationship work with someone else who’s not
“For example, if someone is with an alcoholic, that being the most typical case, taking care of that person or kowtowing to them solves something in their own personality. They have a hard time leaving it,” says Daniel Bochner, PhD, a psychologist in Savannah, Ga. and author of The Emotional Toolbox.“They get locked into trying to save their partner or the relationship over and over.”
Codependency can also arise when a partner is self-absorbed or uninterested, Tessina says. This may happen “in a relationship where only one of you is ever asking to get together or making moves toward the other one.”
Still, the codependent partner often finds some type of reward in this setup.
“Probably the most significant theme is a sense of control. The other person plays the out-of-control person, and so they get to be the person who is in control and thus is respected,” Bochner tells WebMD.
“They can be the better person, the smarter person, the person who’s recognized as having it all together. They’re defining themselves as strong enough to deal with it, when actually they need to realize that maybe they should be taking care of themselves instead of proving their strength,” he says.
Simply being in a relationship – even one that’s not ideal – may also be comforting, Wetzler says. “A lot of times, people have low self-esteem and say, ‘I’m no good, no one would want me, and therefore I have to put up with this.’ These negative thoughts are very common, and they have a big impact on why people stay in relationships that may not be good for them.”
Codependency’s Causes and Cures
People who are codependent often grew up in a household with the same issues. What we grow up with we perceive as normal, those very behaviors and attitudes we will seek in adult relationships.
“Their whole definition of love is codependent before they even start. Most people who didn’t grow up in a codependent atmosphere aren’t going to put up with it for too long. The ones who start with the impression that love is sacrificing for my partner and putting up with whatever my partner wants to dish out, they’re the ones who get deeply stuck in it,” she says.
What is enmeshment?
“We’re enmeshed when we use an individual for our identity, sense of value, worth, well-being, safety, purpose, and security. Instead of two people present, we become one identity. More simply, enmeshment is present when our sense of wholeness comes from another person. We hear enmeshment phrases everyday such as, “I’d die without you,” “You’re my everything,” “Without you, I’m nothing,” “I need you,” or “You make me whole.” Many of us find our identity and self-worth by becoming the mate, parent, or friend of a successful and/or prestigious individual, or we find the need to fix and caretake individuals to give us a sense of purpose. Enmeshment doesn’t allow for individuality, wholeness, personal empowerment, healthy relationships with ourselves or others, and, most importantly, a relationship with our Higher Power.”
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