The Codependent Relationship—Do You Have One?

Alcohol RecoveryThe 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?