How to get rid of co-dependency?

How to get rid of codependency in a relationship

This article is for those who are experiencing difficulties in relationships and want to overcome them.

When entering into a partnership, the vast majority of people want to build a strong and happy bond, sincerely believing that everything will be fine. How is it that love leaves and in its place conflicts, misunderstandings and, often, co-dependency firmly established? Let’s talk about what is co-dependence, where it comes from, how to recognize it and what to do to overcome it.

What is codependency in a relationship

Co-dependence is best defined by the words from popular songs and poems “I can’t be without you”, “you are the meaning of my life”, “I dissolve in you to the drop”.

The word co-dependence originally appeared in connection with alcoholism and referred to the model of behavior of women who are in a kinship with alcoholics. It is now used in the broad context of broken relationships in the family.

“A co-dependent is a person who is emotionally dependent on the mood and behavior of another person, who is totally focused on the personality of that other rather than on himself, and who tries to control the actions of the other in the hope that the other will behave exactly as he would like. Co-dependents can be husband and wife, mother and daughter, mother and son, doctor and patient, psychotherapist and client.” 1

1 L.A. Puzyreva. Yaroslavl Pedagogical Bulletin – 2012 – No. 3 – Volume II (Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences).

Co-dependence in relationships: how to get rid of

Below we will analyze the key factors that underlie co-dependence and give recommendations on how to improve the situation.

If the following signs describe your relationship with your partner, you are most likely in co-dependency:

  1. Self-loathing.
  2. Fear of loneliness
  3. A distorted view of yourself or your partner
  4. Willpower and motivational disorders
  5. Lack of contact with your own feelings
  6. Immature attitude toward one’s life
  7. Multiple secondary benefits

1. Lack of self-love.

This is a lack of contact with one’s own depth, an inability to enjoy life, to fill oneself up. The feeling of emptiness is characteristic: “what will I do without him (her)”, “life is over if we part. Often the co-dependent cannot give three or five examples of what he or she truly enjoys in life.

What to do. Listen to your bodily sensations and emotions. Make it a rule to keep track of how I am feeling right now:

  • comfortable – uncomfortable.
  • I want to eat – I don’t want to eat
  • I want to communicate – I want to be alone, I want to be quiet
  • Angry – not angry

To try to follow the rule “do what you like and don’t do what you don’t like. Of course, with the correction of reality. Following these rules opens the way to interesting realizations and new experiences, rethinking your own life.

2. Fear of being alone

Inability to be with oneself in balance, in peace. Constant anxiety, uncertainty in oneself, lack of trust in oneself, attempts to preserve codependent relations at all costs, and if they collapse, to find a new object to repeat the scenario are characteristic.

What to do. First, accept the idea that it is normal to experience loneliness. Then take a mental journey back to your childhood. Think back to what it was like. Were you loved, cared for? Often it is childhood emotional trauma that prevents us from finding wholeness.

If you find resentment or pain inside yourself toward your parents, it’s best to share it with a psychologist to work through the traumatic experiences.

Learn to love and accept yourself as you are – buy yourself gifts, pamper yourself, invent more and more daring dreams and try to fulfill them. Express yourself more – express your point of view in a dialogue, get in touch with new people. It is important to be interested in other people, to create close connections.

Distorted image of oneself and the person with whom one has a co-dependent relationship

A peculiar psychological “blindness” is noted. Idealization of the partner and/or oneself, disregard of direct facts of behavior often takes place. There may be turning a blind eye to infidelity, for example.

What to do. Pay more attention not to words, but to actions and concrete results of actions. See if promises are kept. Reflect on your personal boundaries – what is acceptable and what is not. Begin to adhere to the rule – “never violate your boundaries and the other person’s personal boundaries.”

4. Willpower and Motivational Violations

Own desires are suppressed, not independent. A typical phrase is “the main thing is for him or her to be all right, then I will be all right, too,” or “I don’t want anything for myself, I want it for someone else.

What to do. Learn to want for yourself. It is important to find at least a little desire inside yourself and implement them. Here, by the way, lies an important criterion for distinguishing true desires from false ones – for true ones we always do something, we approximate them, and false ones can be declared for years and remain empty images.

5. Lack of contact with our own feelings

There is no awareness of the pain, anger, resentment that one feels in a co-dependent relationship. These feelings are displaced as uncomfortable. When asked directly about feelings, the co-dependent, even in an objectively unfavorable situation, may advocate that he or she is fine.

What to do. Besides classes with a psychologist, anything aimed at the contact with the body and emotions will do – dance, drawing, modeling, handicrafts, breathing techniques, yoga.

It is possible to fill in a diary of feelings. Periodically during the day, consciously trace your emotions and write them down, and also summarize the day – note the most significant moments and your own feelings with which they were accompanied.

6. An immature attitude toward one’s life

A person with co-dependency often denies that he or she can affect the situation. It’s all about the other person or external circumstances; they’re the ones to blame for what’s going on. The person avoids taking responsibility for their actions.

What to do. Write out everything that’s bothering you on a piece of paper, then cross out anything you can’t influence. Focus all your energy on what’s left, and take action. To get results, it’s important to be honest with yourself.

7. Multiple secondary benefits.

These can be a habit (breaking up with a person means starting a new life), material comfort, the ability to avoid fears, responsibility.

What to do. Independently analyze and write out secondary benefits from the current situation. Write a list of secondary benefits, the pluses you get from co-dependency:

  • predictability of the situation, stability
  • the ability not to confront your feelings
  • The ability to do nothing.

And make a second list – with the price you pay for co-dependence. This can be a lack of joy, freedom, inability to express yourself creatively, loss of money, loss of health.

Are the “pluses” you get worth the limitations and “minuses” of the second list? Such a maximally complete analysis will greatly motivate you to change.

Codependency is not love, but a substitute for love.

Codependency is a product of childhood traumas, parental upbringing, unconsciously absorbed family scenarios and destructive behavior patterns.

It is important to understand that co-dependence is not love, but its substitution. A true feeling of love implies freedom and autonomy, open and trusting relationships as equals. A mature, psychologically stable person is interesting to himself, he can find sources of joy and happiness in life. A partner or child-parent relationship is a part of life, a very large and meaningful part, yes, but only a part.

“Treating” co-dependency is not easy, especially when one has had three or four similar relationships. I had a case where co-dependency was aggravated by domestic violence. The husband’s abuse had become habitual for the woman, and the client had a constant fear of saying or doing something that did not please her husband. Her only joy was spending time with her small child and drinking alcohol. It took half a year of work for the client to realize the horror of the situation and begin to change. She began to defend herself, called the police, went to her relatives for help. A year later she divorced. It took another two years of therapy for her to learn to live independently. She pulled herself together piece by piece, learned to say “no,” to be happy about simple things, regained her personal boundaries, felt freedom in her body, her own value. Every step forward was given with great difficulty. But she did it.

Declare war on co-dependence, the part of yourself that is firmly rooted in it – it is your biggest and only real enemy.

Co-dependence – how to stop being a victim and start taking care of yourself?

Co-dependency is an abnormal, “toxic” form of relationship between people that is characterized by a deep infatuation with the other person’s life. More often than not, the wives and children of alcoholics, drug addicts, and gamblers become co-dependent. Co-dependence is manifested by psycho-emotional deviations, leading to a violation of social adaptation. Co-dependent people are prone to self-injury and self-destruction of personality. Get rid of toxic relationships and stop the process of self-destruction will help you professionals Rehabilitation Center Resident-ReNa!

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What can co-dependence be?

Classic co-dependency is when one person directs all his efforts for the benefit of another person. In doing so, he acts to the detriment of his own needs and desires.

If a drug addict or alcoholic appears in the family, the rest of the household adapts to his behavior and begins to live with the worries of the “poor drowning man. They forget about themselves, which gradually leads to disastrous consequences. Ignoring personal needs fraught with low self-esteem and the development of psycho-emotional disorders.

Co-dependence can be of two types:

  • Co-dependent relationships between husband and wife, friends (not relatives);
  • codependent relations between relatives (children and parents).

Symptoms of co-dependency

The most obvious symptoms of co-dependency are:

  • An obsessive desire to control the lives of others. The co-dependent commits himself completely to the addict. He tries to control every step and genuinely worries about any actions of the addict. Attempts are made to influence not only behavior, but also the impression the particular family makes on those around them. The more difficult the condition of the addict and the worse the situation in the family is, the more actively the co-dependent tries to correct it. He will blackmail, beg and persuade the addict, going along with any conditions to achieve his goals. In doing so, the co-dependent will regularly emphasize the addict’s helplessness, his inability to make decisions and take action. Often attempts at total control lead to depression and fits of sudden uncontrollable rage in the addict.
  • Low self-esteem. Co-dependents are always dissatisfied with themselves, their family, the state of affairs. They try their best to make a positive impression on others. When they do not succeed, they become very sad and depressed taking all the blame. Families created by such people inherit pathological behavior. In the absence of praise and support from others, co-dependent individuals may become nervous and intolerant.
  • Denial of attachment pathology and downplaying problems. Co-dependents may argue to the point of victory that the addict is “normal” and that there are no obvious personal problems. This behavior is driven by fear of judgment and loneliness.
  • The dominance of template attitudes. Co-dependents are sure that “relatives need help”, “love endures everything”, “with a sweetheart in the shack”, “you cannot leave your friend in trouble”. It is these beliefs that motivate them to take pathological care of the addict.
  • Denial of social responsibility. Co-dependents write off all negative actions to the “disease of the addict. Relations turn to the format “victim and sadist” – co-dependent shows love and care, and the addict allows himself “pranks” in the form of drinking, use of chemical substances, violence, insults. Thus co-dependents estimate their behavior positively, calling it ability to love the person with all faults.
  • Problems with self-expression. It is difficult for the addict to express his opinion, emotions and feelings. Such a person cannot firmly say “I don’t like it.” He does not have his own point of view.

Causes of co-dependence

Usually co-dependency develops in people who grew up in asocial families. They saw an example of behavior from childhood, which they imitate in adulthood. Invariably, in such families, one of the relatives has experienced addiction, and the other one has been a pleaser. More often than not, the addict was the father and the sufferer was the mother. At the same time the child was forbidden to express his own feelings: he was constantly yelled at, told what was right and wrong, forbidden to cry or laugh in certain family situations.

Sometimes a perfectly healthy person who grew up in a completely normal family becomes co-dependent. Co-dependency develops because of marriage with an addict. If such a union persists for a long time, the symptoms of co-dependence gradually manifest themselves even in a person without an initial predisposition.

Social institutions play a critical role in the formation of co-dependency. Society imposes the following upon us:

  • A woman is obliged to tolerate;
  • women have no say;
  • the man is in charge of the family;
  • the family must be preserved for the sake of the children;
  • There is no such thing as a perfect relationship.

Elements of co-dependence can be seen in every social sphere. For example, subordinates are dependent on their superiors, believers are dependent on the church, and students are dependent on their mentor or teacher.

Even after the rupture of a toxic relationship, the co-dependent retains his habitual pattern of behavior and practices it in a new relationship. The only way to escape from a vicious circle – to recognize the problem and to struggle with it, which is often impossible without the intervention of a specialized specialist (psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychologist).

Consequences of co-dependence

Co-dependence can turn into a number of psychological and physical problems. Prolonged suppression of their own desires over time leads to complexes and distortion of self-esteem. The co-dependent person develops depression which leads to:

  • various psychosomatic disorders;
  • lack of appetite;
  • suicidal tendencies;
  • complete self-destruction.

Co-dependents are prone to various mental disorders. These may include phobias, fears, depersonalization, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Co-dependents often develop IBS, neuroses, nervous asthma and physical exhaustion. Left unattended, co-dependence is fraught not only with psycho-emotional problems, but also with deteriorating health. On its background can appear extremely serious pathologies: heart failure, hypertension, ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract.

How to stop being co-dependent?

Co-dependence – it is usually a family disease. That is why both the addict and the victim should undergo treatment. It is better when treatment is carried out in parallel. To get rid of co-dependence apply different psychotherapeutic techniques:

  • group and personal sessions with a psychologist;
  • educational lectures;
  • Learning how to cope with stress;
  • Reading books and watching videos with successful healing stories;
  • Talking to people who have been healed to share their experiences;
  • Keeping diaries and completing questionnaires;
  • Lifestyle changes;
  • behavior correction.

Treatment must be done in inpatient settings. This is the only way to fully control the co-dependent and, if necessary, to correct the therapy in time.

The co-dependent does not have time and opportunities to continue the toxic relationship in the inpatient setting. This is an important condition for successful rehabilitation. The person literally learns to live in a new way, without the main irritant – the object of dependence.

In addition to psychotherapy, co-dependence is perfectly treated by physical therapy. The patient needs to change his lifestyle, adjust the sleep and wakefulness regime, go to a healthy diet. You should also do sports, go for more walks in the fresh air and increase your activity level.

The Rehabilitation Center ReNa has everything you need for comfortable stay and full treatment of different kinds of addiction. It is staffed by professionals with extensive experience who love and appreciate patients. For each person an individual program of rehabilitation is chosen depending on indications, needs and complexity of pathological condition.

Mutual Addiction Prevention

Prevention of co-dependency should begin in early childhood. The main method of prevention is the correct education of the child. Parents should take care of the formation of adequate self-esteem, faith in themselves, in their own strength. Children should not be forbidden to openly express their emotions, feelings and desires.

If there is an addict in the family, the focus should be on the willingness to confront pathological cravings, not on sympathy and pity. This is the only way to overcome addiction without becoming co-dependent and to keep the family together.

When addiction and co-dependence occur, contact the Rehabilitation Center Resident-ReNa. Trust the professionals! Do not be ashamed of your psychological problems! Take care of your future and the emotional health of your children!


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