Codependency is a learned behavior passed down from one generation to the next. It is a mental and behavioral disorder that makes it hard for a person to have a healthy, satisfying relationship with someone else.
Codependency usually affects a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or co-worker. Codependent people have low self-esteem and look for ways to feel better outside of themselves. As a result, they have trouble being themselves.
What Are the Signs of Codependency?
It might not be easy to tell the difference between a codependent person and someone who is clingy or wants to spend time with you. However, there are some telltale signs that a codependent person will typically portray.
- Difficulty finding life satisfaction unless they do something for someone else.
- Stay in a relationship, even though their partner does things that hurt them.
- Will do anything to make someone happy, even if it costs them something.
- Constantly worry about their relationship and feel pressure to make sure everyone else is okay.
- Use their time and energy to do everything their partner wants.
- May feel guilty about caring about themselves in the relationship.
- Putting their needs and desires aside.
- Will do what the other person wants, even if it goes against their own values.
Loved ones of the codependent person may try to talk with them about the behavior, but they are often shut down. The codependent person will have difficulty breaking away because a big part of their identity is rooted in the other person.
What Does a Codependent Child Look Like?
Codependency may develop in childhood as a reaction to trauma. It can begin as a survival skill but continues as the child does not receive the attention they need. When parents or caregivers are not there to promote a healthy environment, children are forced to learn independently and may develop a skewed sense of relationships.
In their attempt to gain attention, they may take on a role they shouldn’t. For instance, if their parent sleeps all day, they may seek approval by ensuring their siblings are fed and their parent wakes up for work.
Children who are codependent need approval from others. They rush in to help, dropping everything else they are doing. They may have difficulty with boundaries and not understand how to play or act like a child their age. Unless they do something for someone, they may feel lost and unsure what to do.
What Does a Codependent Parent Look Like?
A codependent parent has an unhealthy attachment to their child. However, they rarely see the behavior as negative. Instead, they see their relationship as healthy and positive. Characteristics of a codependent parent are listed below.
- Over involved in their children’s life.
- They often gravitate toward their children’s activities rather than doing things for themselves or with friends.
- They’re manipulative and may cause their children to feel guilty when they do not appreciate their efforts.
- Their self-esteem is tied to their child.
- Their reaction to concerned friends or family is often anger and/or denial.
The relationship between a codependent parent and the child is not healthy. It can be emotionally abusive and stunts the choice development of the child. Unfortunately, suppose the relationship does not change. In that case, the child may grow up to have the same relationship with their own child, continuing the cycle.
What is the Root Cause of Codependency?
There is not one specific reason for codependent behavior. However, from what we have introduced, you can see that some codependency begins in childhood as a reaction to upbringing. Other issues may stem from their relationship with their parent.
As human beings, we thrive when we’re connected to others. However, when these relationships veer off normal and healthy, they can lead to codependency.
How Do You Fix Codependency Issues?
Because of the possible childhood connection, addressing issues that formed when you were younger is important. However, working through family issues can be complicated and overwhelming. Talking with a professional is essential to help you navigate previous trauma.
You can heal your childhood self with care and consistency and work towards healthier and happier relationships. Understanding an issue and being open to working through it is essential. Be patient with yourself and be open to learning. With time, you can become more assertive and learn to develop despite past narratives.