15 Apr Are you a Codependent? Six Key Questions
Are you codependent? The line between healthy dependence on one another – and a dangerous descent into misery and oppression – is a blurred one. Partly this is because the recognition of codependency as a real issue that is blighting the lives of so many has spread faster than the psychiatrists’ ability to nail it down and define it.
To summarise: codependency was first recognised by those working to help alcoholics in their recovery. Partners, and other family members, of some addicts were found to share certain unhealthy traits, such as dishonesty and self-denial, which could be loosely explained by an addiction to the addict and their behaviour. The codependent tag has since been extended to cover those who are overly dependent on others full stop. So, if you’re still wondering which side of the dependency line you are on, here are six questions to ask yourself.
- Are you in a relationship? Codependency is a condition that exists only within a relationship (unlike Dependent Personality Disorder).
- Are your thoughts your own? If you constantly find yourself spouting out your partner’s (or parent’s, child’s etc.) opinions, this is termed ‘external referencing’ and is a sign of codependency.
- Do you weigh things up? In healthy decision-making, we balance the pros and cons before coming to a conclusion. Codependents act to fulfil a need – a compulsion.
- Are you aware of your needs? If I were to ask you what you wanted out of life, would your mind freeze up. If you’d never even considered the question before then codependency is a real possibility.
- Are your relationships generally calm? Codependents suffer a constant fear of abandonment and rejection and their relationships are often unstable or overly intense.
- Are you honest? If you lie, deny or otherwise distort the truth about your partner and their behaviour you could be taking ownership of their problems – a codependent trait.
Other traits include the fear of being alone and feelings of anger, fear and discomfort when other people try to ‘help’ your partner with their problems.
Addressing a Codependent Relationship
If you, or someone you know, suspect they may be in a codependent relationship, even if they are unsure, it is time to seek suitably qualified help. You may not have to leave the relationship – but you do need to commit to change.
There is more information about codependency in my book: ‘Narcissism: Both Sides of the Coin.’ This is a practical guide to understanding, unhooking and recovering from a narcissist/codependent relationship.