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Emotional Codependency in Relationships

Updated: Jul 6

At times we depend on our parents, friends, or loved ones for support and love, where the two persons value each other in their relationship, and that is the healthy way. We say when in need of help ask for support. However, Emotional Codependency is a different and unhealthy thing, and there is much more to this than everyday clinginess.


Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship where one person assumes the role of “the giver” and the other person becomes “the taker”. ‘The Giver’ sacrifices their own needs and well-being to make the other person happy. The beauty of this codependency relationship is that it doesn’t have to be romantic, this can be developed in parent and child, friends, or family members.


Codependency is actually a learned behavior that can be passed on from one generation to another. It’s an emotional and behavioral condition where an individual’s ability to have a healthy and mutually-satisfying relationship is affected. This kind of behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.

In its simplest terms, an emotionally codependent relationship is when an individual needs another individual, who needs to be needed. It is also known as ‘relationship addiction’ as people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive/or abusive. The person with codependency will plan their entire future around pleasing the other person, these two persons are invested in each other so much that they can’t function independently anymore.


Causes of Codependency


Codependent behaviors are often rooted in childhood relationships with parents and caregivers. And the childhood experiences play a major role in lifelong mental and emotional health. It is a learned behavior that results from part behavioral patterns and emotional difficulties. It can range from a range of situations:

  • Damaging Parental Relationships: People with codependency might be taught in childhood that their needs are less important than their parents or not important at all. The child is taught to focus on their parents’ needs and never think of themselves, as a result, the child learns to ignore their own needs and focus on what they can do for others at all times.

  • Living with a Mentally or Physically Ill Parent: Codependency might result from a caring person with a chronic disease. As the parent is ill, the role of caregiver comes on the shoulders of the child, especially at a young age. It leads to young people neglecting their own needs and developing a habit of helping others. This person’s self-worth may form around being needed by another person and getting nothing in return.

  • Abusive Families: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is linked to many psychological problems which are almost chronic. The issue of codependency might arise due to any form of abuse in childhood. A child or a teenager, who has experienced any kind of abuse will repress their feelings as a defense mechanism against the pain of that abuse. When that child becomes an adult, this learned behavior of caring about others’ feelings and not even acknowledging one’s own becomes a habit.


Along with these three situations, there are other situations too that might develop codependency, like controlling or overprotective caregivers who prevent a child from learning safe limits and setting healthy boundaries, one or both parents leaving the family, making you afraid of future abandonment, etc.


Signs of Codependency


Codependent relationships are thus constructed inequity of power that promotes the needs of the taker and leave the giver to keep on giving, even sacrificing themselves most of the time. The following symptoms can be seen in a person with codependency:-

  • People Pleasing: People with codependency often feel like they don’t have any other choice but to keep the other person happy. These people don’t like to say ‘No’ even at times when pleasing someone interferes with their own wants and needs.

  • Lack of Boundaries: Both the people in a codependent relationship tend to have problems recognizing, respecting, and reinforcing each other’s boundaries. In this relationship, one person is who doesn’t recognize boundaries and the other doesn’t insist on them. As a result, one becomes controlling and manipulative, and the other is compliant and fails to assert his/her will.

  • Poor Self-Esteem: Neither of the persons in a codependent relationship has good self-esteem. One person who is always seeking approval from the other or at least has to be served for other’s needs, which is the only sense of purpose in his/her life. While the other person has low self-esteem due to depending on someone else to meet material needs and needing validation.

  • Caretaking: One of the major signs of codependency is when the person feels like they have to take care of everyone all time. This typically comes from a childhood where the caretaker learns that there may be terrible consequences of failing to take care of a parent’s needs. This becomes a habit in adulthood, so the person does everything to take care of the other, not so much out of affection but from the fear of something bad will happen.

  • Poor Communication: The codependency makes it hard for the people in a relationship to communicate. The caregiver is unaware of their own needs, and when they become aware they are mostly reluctant to express them. And for the dependent person might be in a habit of communicating dishonesty and more interested in maintaining control.

  • Relationship Stress: A lot of factors in a codependent relationship can put so much pressure on the persons in it. Both the people are afraid to be alone, but neither is particularly happy. However, in this relationship, there may be many fights as one person is typically committed to keeping the other one happy, but both are likely to feel stressed nonetheless.


How BluetoYellow can help in dealing with Emotional Codependency?


Codependency refers to an imbalanced relationship pattern where one person assumes responsibility for meeting another person’s needs to the exclusion of acknowledging their own needs or feelings. While everyone has loved ones and feels responsible for those loved ones, it can become unhealthy when someone’s identity is contingent upon someone else. The inherent problem of codependency is that the individual loses their true sense of self as they are pouring so much into someone else.


BluetoYellow is working towards providing quality online counseling sessions to the young population at affordable prices. Our dynamic therapists follow a client-centric approach that creates a safe and confidential space for you to express your emotions and thoughts without any judgment.


If you are suspecting that you are in an imbalanced relationship that is interfering with your well-being, or if you know someone who can be benefited from the blog, forward the page to bring awareness to them.


You can start your mental health journey with the small step of booking an appointment with BluetoYellow today.

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