Codependency is a pattern of detrimental, behavioral interactions within a dysfunctional relationship or relationships with a partner, family or friends. A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. Codependency advocates claim that a codependent may feel shame about, or try to change, his or her most private thoughts and feelings if they conflict with those of another person. It involves low-self esteem, seeking for others approval, not having own boundaries with their own thought, feelings and behavior.

Symptoms of codependence may include controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, problems with intimacy, excessive caretaking, hypervigilance, or physical illness related to stress. Codependence is often accompanied by clinical depression, as the codependent person succumbs to feelings of frustration or sadness over his or her inability to improve the situation.

  • tendency to place the needs and wants of others first and to the exclusion of acknowledging one’s own
  • continued investment of self-esteem in the ability to control both oneself and others
  • anxiety and boundary distortions relating to intimacy and separation
  • difficulty expressing feelings
  • excessive worry how others may respond to one’s feelings
  • undue fear of being hurt and/or rejected by others
  • self-esteem dependent on approval by others
  • tendency to ignore own values and attempt to adhere to the values of others

Anybody have any thoughts on this?  Is this going to be a common theme in ALL my relationships or just this one?  If I was with someone who wasn’t an alcoholic would it be different?  Is it too late to change these patterns in the relationship now?  Is it something I can actually change about myself?  Any thoughts on how to?


2 thoughts on “codependence

  1. Okay, first…Thank you for your words! I am so touched by our friendship, too– I’ve always thought it is amazing how much we can be affected by our blogging friends– I feel the same.

    On codependency: Bowen Family Systems, girl!!! I’m just saying, it’s the best when you are looking at relationship patterns. BFS has changed my life over the past several years–I used to get this mystery depression EVERY semester and end up dropping my classes– I was able to study my family system and see that it was no mystery at all but followed a very predictable pattern that actually came from my family’s events that I thought weren’t affecting me. I’ve had the same BFS ‘therapist’ for 5 or 6 years- she just got cancer, so I’m switching to a new one. B and I will be talking to her via Skype bc I really want a BFS person who is seriously into it, so sometimes I have to go far away.

    Google it. 🙂

  2. I’m not an expert, but I have a feeling Bowen would have called codependency both fusion and over-functioning…we do both in attempts to reduce anxiety, and if you look at your whole family system, I bet it could have been predicted that you might have that tendency– but by knowing your system, you can totally overcome it. Not to sound like a cult member, preaching Bowen–I’m sure you could figure it out many ways, but I have to say that when you “get” the system, it ends up involving a lot less will and much more work up front that kind of front loads for those tough situations…I had ‘explore your feelings’ therapy since I was 12, but hit a wall. Family systems, I’m passionate about. It gave me real tools.

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