The Codependent Relationship—Do You Have One?
The codependent relationship involves relatively stable patterns over a prolonged period. These patterns work out in a relationship in which one partner takes care of another. However, the caretaking is not mutual and is not limited to occasional crises. It is a one-way street relationship in which one partner is a caretaker and the other takes, but does not reciprocate in kind.
The Emotionally Unavailable Partner
The codependent person is usually involved with a partner that is commonly described as emotionally unavailable. This means that the codependent’s needs for approval, affection, support, and emotional responsiveness from a romantic partner are not met. However, the codependent strives to meet the same needs of his or her partner.
The Role of a Codependent Caretaker
Codependents assume the role of caretaker in their relationships. Taking care of others is a way to feel needed and important. Many people with codependent traits will initiate caretaking in order to bond with another. Essentially, they try to find a way to become necessary or indispensable to the other. This dynamic reflects several key issues of codependency:
- The sense of low self-esteem and poor self-worth characteristic of codependents
- The belief that one is not lovable by being one’s self, but must
- do for others in order to earn the right to be loved
- The desire to please others and gain approval at the expense of one’s own well-being
- Taking on others’ responsibilities
- Putting others’ needs, feelings, opinions, beliefs before one’s own
- Becoming out of touch with one’s own needs, feelings, opinions, beliefs
- Sacrificing one’s mental and physical health in order to focus on others’ needs
Is This a Problem for You?
If the information above resonates with you, you may have codependent characteristics and/or be in a codependent relationship. Here is some other information to help you further access your own situation:
- Do you feel resentful and/or angry with your partner because he or she is ‘high maintenance’?
- Do you feel you give more than you receive in your relationship?
- Does your partner dismiss or ignore your feelings, thoughts, beliefs and/or opinions?
- Do you work hard to avoid your partner’s disapproval or upset?
- Do you change your opinions or intentions if you partner disapproves of them?
- Do you keep your feelings to yourself?
- Do you put on a happy face and insist things are OK when they aren’t?
- Do you make excuses for your partner’s behavior?