Co-dependency

The concept of co-dependency was first introduced by investigating the behaviors seen in the spouses of people who participated in alcohol addicts’ self-help groups known as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a concept characterized as the inability to lead a life independent of the addicted person. Later, this concept started to be considered not only for dependent spouses, but also as behaviors that show themselves with an exaggerated sense of responsibility towards their partner, who lead a dependent life in the relationship, undertake all vital responsibilities such as caregiving, play the role of savior.

Spousal dependence is more likely to occur when one of the partners is in need of care (chronic illness, addiction). It is also possible to be co-dependent not only on the partner but also on any of the family members, for example, it is seen that mothers are co-dependent on their children. Co-dependence is more common in women, as features such as caregiving and the role of savior overlap with the roles assigned to women in societies.

What is the view of co-dependency in relationships?

Codependent people perceive love as sacrifice and believe that they should sacrifice themselves for the person they love. He lives only by focusing on the other, changing the flow of his daily life to meet his needs, restricting his social life. Therefore, when he does not receive approval from the other person, he experiences resentment when his effort is not seen. Often in families with an illness or addiction, this person is the savior and will do anything to get that person out of their situation. In addition, co-dependent people tend to justify their behavior by holding themselves to blame for their situation, as they have an exaggerated sense of responsibility towards the other party. For example, she feels guilty about the alcohol use of her husband, who is addicted to alcohol, and tries to find justified excuses for her alcohol use, believing that she is using it because she thinks she is doing something wrong.

Co-dependent people are generally people who have a self-confidence problem and are afraid of being alone, and they feed off the need of the other party by showing their feelings of love and compassion excessively. For this reason, they do not know what to do in case the person recovers and the need for care decreases, so they act to maintain and nurture the current situation. Of course, this is not always done consciously, most people continue this behavior pattern unconsciously.

In relationships, the other party may start to use the behavior pattern of the codependent person as a weakness and take advantage of it. The feeling of guilt of the codependent person and the behaviors he does with this feeling, self-sacrifice and living focused on the other; he can become a standard for the other party and manipulate the relationship for his own comfort. Thus, the person who is codependent remains in a relationship where he is never satisfied and fed, and the ground is prepared for the formation of serious mental problems. Depression and anxiety are common in codependent individuals. They are both in a relationship that they constantly complain about and they do not have the power to do anything to change it.

Codependent individuals usually come from dysfunctional family structures in childhood, and are not loved and appreciated enough. In such a family environment, they expect to be valued in this relationship as a savior because they cannot develop their own selves sufficiently. In their own childhood, they learned to suppress their emotions and ignore problems. Often there are secrets hidden from the environment, dynamics that cause embarrassment in the family, and since dysfunctional family structures are somewhat familiar to them, they tend to continue this in their own families. Codependent individuals dedicate themselves to save the person in this relationship by transferring their traumas about the family members that they could not save in their own family to their next relationships. For example, a girl whose father is addicted to alcohol cannot save her father from addiction no matter what she does and continues the same pattern in her own relationship by being with an alcohol addicted spouse. Unresolved trauma from the past pushes the person to experience the same trauma again at this point.

Co-dependency is often difficult to discover. It often appears hidden under other mental problems. Relationship dynamics that have been going on for a very long time now become a standard of one’s life and can be normalized by the person. However, people who have mental problems due to this situation can develop awareness at some point and change themselves with the professional support process. If you see these symptoms in your relationship and yourself, it is definitely beneficial to get professional support.

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