Codependency is a concept and term originally used to describe shared characteristics of addicted partners and loved ones. Describes some common traits in people who choose to be closely involved with those who are not functioning to their full potential in life – who depend on a substance to feel well and be able to live life day in and day out. The codependent person can be seen as a co-addict of care, martyrdom, and control over the nature of the relationship with the addict. Similar traits can be found in partners of abusers, or in other relationships where there is relationship dysfunction. Here are 4 signs that you may be showing codependent tendencies in your relationship:
1. You make excuses for your partner’s bad behavior. You can make statements like, “At least he or she doesn’t _______.” It is true that there could be worse situations, but this is like comparing car accidents. In one you might be crippled for life, in the other you might just break your legs and end up with facial scarring. Really, isn’t getting to your destination safely the preferred alternative?
2. You hide your partner’s bad behavior from others and try to cover it up. For example, you might call your partner to work while he is sick, when the truth is that your partner is too hung up to go to work. You can step in and try to fulfill the obligations that your partner has failed to fulfill due to whatever dysfunction they have. You may feel the urge to protect your partner’s reputation, as well as minimize the harm done to you out of shame at having put up with your partner’s destructive behavior.
3. You fear leaving your partner because of what he might do to himself. You take responsibility for your partner’s daily life, well-being, and even safety. You feel convinced that your partner won’t be able to go on without you, and you feel obligated to stay to save them.
4. You are afraid of losing your partner to yourself, and you rarely cringe, because the threat of losing your partner is greater than your desire to address the issues in the relationship. You feel as though you can’t live without this person, and that you’re missing out on purpose if you don’t care about your partner. If you give ultimatums, you give up and don’t follow through. It is much more comfortable to stay in this system that you need and give than to venture into the unknown and search for a relationship based on equality and balance.