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What Is Codependency?

Codependency is a buzzword you often hear while discussing addiction and Recovery. However, few people know what it is or how to tell if they are in a codependent relationship. If the following definition and signs of codependency sound familiar, rest assured that healing is available for both you and your partner.

What Does Codependency Mean?

A codependent relationship — also called relationship addiction — is a relationship in which each person can’t act without the other. Codependent people often form relationships that are manipulative, one-sided or even abusive.

In a codependent relationship, one person takes on the role of the “taker,” while the other person becomes the “giver.”

  • The taker is needy, immature, entitled or addicted. They rely on the giver to take care of them and to take on any adverse consequences of the taker’s destructive behavior.
  • The giver is a forgiving, empathetic caretaker who feels the need to rescue and make sacrifices for the taker. They put their own needs aside to focus solely on making the other person happy. Because the taker enjoys this caring behavior, it encourages them to continue their destructive role in the relationship.

Codependency is a learned behavior passed down from one person to the next. You might become codependent as the child of alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.

Am I Codependent?

You may be in a codependent relationship if you:

  • Feel trapped in a relationship
  • Have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for others’ actions
  • Find it hard to say no when your partner demands your time and energy
  • Often keep quiet to avoid arguments
  • Feel too guilty to make your own decisions or set personal boundaries
  • Ignore or justify your partner’s unacceptable behavior
  • Cover up for your partner when they get in trouble with the law

How to Overcome Codependency

If you’re in a codependent relationship and choose to stay with your partner, remember that Recovery is possible. Codependency is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something you’ll both need to address. After eliminating your codependent behaviors, you can work toward a healthy relationship where both people feel equally valued.

Here are a few of the many steps you can take to overcome codependency:

  • Assert yourself: In any relationship, both people’s needs should be of equal importance. Be honest about your wants with both yourself and your partner. By changing your mindset and caring for yourself as much as you care for your partner, you can open the door for change in your relationship.
  • Spend time apart: Not only is it completely normal for both partners to have lives outside of their relationship, but it’s also extremely healthy. Feel free to go out with friends, take up a hobby or spend time by yourself. Doing so may be difficult for both of you at first, but it’s essential in freeing yourself from the control your partner has over your life.
  • Get treatment: Addiction can be beyond your or your partner’s control. If you talk to your partner about going to counseling, you can both receive the help you need for growth and Recovery. You’ll both also learn how to handle any co-existing disorders like depression and PTSD, which can exacerbate addiction and fuel destructive behaviors in both the taker and the giver.
  • Seek help in processing your childhood: Codependency is significantly linked to childhood trauma. To overcome your current codependency, you and your therapist should pinpoint any part of your past that continues to contribute to your current behavior.

How Can 7 Summit Pathways Help?

Being on either side of a codependent relationship is a struggle you don’t have to face alone. At 7 Summit Pathways, we’re here to guide both you and your partner with holistic, evidence-based treatment options. Our Addiction Treatment Center can help you both feel like your whole selves without the need for drugs or alcohol. Contact us or schedule an appointment to learn more.