Codependency is a behavioral and emotional condition that can develop within relationships, particularly dysfunctional ones. It is characterized by an excessive reliance on another person for a sense of self-worth, identity, and emotional well-being. In a codependent relationship, one person often enables or supports the dysfunctional behaviors or needs of the other person at the expense of their own well-being.
Common characteristics and behaviors associated with codependency include:
1. Excessive caretaking: Codependent individuals often prioritize the needs and wants of others over their own, frequently neglecting their own needs in the process.
2. Low self-esteem: Codependents often have an excessive need for approval and validation from others, as their self-worth is often tied to the opinions and reactions of those around them.
3. Poor boundaries: Codependent individuals tend to have difficulty setting healthy boundaries, and may tolerate mistreatment or engage in controlling behaviors.
4. Difficulty expressing emotions: They may have difficulty identifying, expressing, or dealing with their own emotions, instead focusing on the emotions and needs of others.
5. Fear of abandonment: Codependent individuals often have an intense fear of rejection or abandonment, leading them to go to great lengths to maintain relationships, even if they are unhealthy.
6. Enabling behavior: Codependents may enable and support destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse or other addictive behaviors, by making excuses, covering up, or facilitating the behavior.
7. Denial and avoidance: Codependents may deny or minimize their own problems, focusing on the needs and problems of others instead.
Codependency often stems from early experiences in dysfunctional family systems, where individuals may have learned to adapt to chaotic or unhealthy dynamics. Therapy, such as individual counseling or support groups, can be helpful in addressing codependency and promoting healthier relationship patterns.