Definition of a codependent relationship

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Codependency often has you funneling your energy into supporting the people in your life without making space for — or even considering — what you need for yourself. In other words, when you consistently elevate the needs of others above your own, you may be behaving in codependent ways. Recognizing key s of codependency in your behavior is an important first step toward building healthy boundaries and honoring your own needs. The more you focus on providing the support you believe others need, the more heavily they may begin to lean on you.

Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle yourself. However, today experts agree that codependency has a more nuanced and complex meaning — and can show up in many situations, not just ones involving substance use. According to a research review, patterns of codependent behavior generally involve four main themes:. These themes can show up across various types of relationships — and even in the way you relate to yourself.

There is, however, some general agreement on what codependency usually involves. Instead, you tend to focus on caretaking and caring for others to the point that you begin to define yourself in relation to their needs.

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Some level of dependency is healthy in relationships. It may be tough to make it through life alone, and most people thrive with companionship and social support. Interdependent relationships work better for both people involved. In other words, partners depend on each other. Codependency is when that caring behavior crosses the line into trying to direct or control them.

According to Ellen Birosa psychotherapist in Suwanee, Georgia, codependency can make it difficult to:. But fully devoting yourself to others may prevent you from doing anything for yourself. If you tend toward codependency, this pattern will likely play out again and again. All those sacrifices you make might eventually add up.

This may leave you drained, overwhelmed, and even resentful or angry. Experiences in your family of origin can play a major part in lifelong emotional and mental health. Codependent behaviors are, for the most part, rooted in childhood relationships with your parents and other caregivers. And when your needs continually go unmet, you become unable to assert yourself or even know what you should ask for, she says. As a result, you learn to ignore what you think, feel, and want, both to keep others happy and keep them from leaving.

Perhaps a primary caregiver living with health or mental health concerns put you in a position where you needed to take care of them.

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Or maybe you learned that neglecting your own needs to please others earned you praise. You might grow up aiming to please everyone in your life so you can hold on to their affection and approval. Codependency is a learned behavior. Lacking a clear sense of who you are can also keep you from engaging in fulfilling friendships and relationships, leaving you feeling lonely and isolated. Therapists trained in family and couples counseling can also offer more insight on family-of-origin issues and help you begin to address childhood experiences that may have led to codependent coping techniques.

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The support of a trained professional can help you process any unresolved challenges. If you find yourself drawn to distressing dynamics with people who rely on you to support them, a temporary break from romantic relationships provides a chance to explore and better understand these codependent traits. If you have a hard time recognizing your own needs, or have difficulty with asking for and accepting support from others, a therapist can offer compassionate guidance and support.

There are a few codependent traits and s that may help you identify if you are a people pleaser or if it goes beyond that.

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What it is s of codependency Is it the same as being dependent? Examples Causes Support Self-care Next steps Codependency often has you funneling your energy into supporting the people in your life without making space for — or even considering — what you need for yourself.

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Definition of a codependent relationship

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