Relationship Advice

Are You Codependent?

Codependents are people who exhibit far too much caring for people who depend on them. While this may not seem like a component of a bad relationship at first, codependency leads to several unhealthy outcomes, including the tendency to smother a loved one with over affection or self sacrifice to the point of martyrdom.

This is most commonly exhibited by the archetypical over protective parent, who cossets their children to the point that these kids never really mature, and are left unable to fend for themselves when they are alone. Spouses and girl/boy friends can also exhibit codependency in a lot of ways that can be ultimately unhealthy. Examples can include a wife who lets her husband become an alcoholic and physically abuse her, and she stays in the relationship simply because he “needs her to look after him”. If you’re wondering whether you’re a codependent, here are some of the signs and symptoms you should look out for.

5 Signs You May be Codependent…

  1. Altruistic love and affection
    The first sign of codependency is completely altruistic love and affection. While there’s nothing wrong with loving someone, the healthiest relationships in the world are two-sided. If all you’re doing in the relationship is giving and giving, and you get nothing in return other than a “noble” feeling of being a “good” person, the odds are high that you’re a codependent.

  2. Living for Him/Her…
    The second sign of codependency is the philosophy of “living for him/her”. While a beautiful and romantic notion, this is a mindset that, when taken to an extreme, is very self destructive. While in most good relationships the partners value each other, there is no law that says you should stop thinking about yourself. If you don’t think about your own benefit at all, and even worse, if you think of the cliche “I’ll die without him/her”, you’re probably a codependent.

  3. Condoning almost anything they do
    The third sign is a tendency to condone almost anything and everything your partner, child, or parent does. This is a serious problem that causes a huge number of social problems in the world today. Children raised by parents who cease to discipline them and teach them properly will grow up spoiled and arrogant, often becoming belligerent, problematic, and unproductive members of society later on. Spouses who are likewise treated this way will often become alcoholics/drug addicts, will cheat on their wives/husbands, and abuse their family members in general.

  4. Smothering
    The fourth sign is smothering. This is the exact opposite of condoning everything, and manifests in a blanketing over protectiveness that makes you do almost everything for your loved one. You cook for them, clean after them, pick up their trash after them, and keep the rest of the “bad” universe away from them for fear that they will get hurt. This leads to individuals who are unable to fend for themselves at all in the absence of their codependent. These people cannot live by themselves and can do nothing even remotely productive.

  5. Perfectionist behavior
    Lastly there is the perfectionist type of codependency. This manifests as extreme discipline and training, wanting your loved one to be the “best”, all for “his/her own good”. This type of codependency often means that you have an image in your mind of a “perfect” person, and will do anything and everything to make your loved one fit that mold, no matter how unsuited he or she is to it. This leads to extremely unhappy relationships and broken homes. Children raised this way by demanding parents often break under the stress and require counseling later in life.

It can be argued that all relatioships have an element of codependency, it is the extreme of the tendency that can lead to a bad relationship.

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Bill Urell

Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading residential treatment center. Visit our growing community and pick up your free Recovery Rolodex, over 97 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life:

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