Wikipedia defines codependency as: an unhealthy love and a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that harm one’s relationships and quality of life. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.
Have you often wondered what the signs of co-dependency are or if you have fallen into the patterns of a co-dependent? Let’s explore.
Being a caretaker and putting others first can cross an unhealthy line with codependency. It is taking those behaviors to excessive lengths that create unhealthy relationships.
Are you constantly in search of acceptance or affirmation?
Do you portray yourself as the victim when in an argument?
Do you feel guilty if you stand up for yourself?
Below are patterns and characteristics to help guide you to a better understanding:
Co-Dependents Anonymous offers these patterns and characteristics as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.
- I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
- I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
- I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
- I lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
- I label others with my negative traits.
- I can take care of myself without any help from others.
- I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
- I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
- I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am attracted.
Low self-esteem patterns:
- I have difficulty making decisions.
- I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never “good enough.”
- I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
- I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
- I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
- I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
- I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
- I am jealous of the relationships between others I would like to have as my own.
- I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake.
- I need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and will even lie to look good.
- I perceive myself as superior to others.
- I look to others to provide my sense of safety.
- I have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
- I have trouble setting healthy priorities.
- I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward me.
- I judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
- I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of maintaining distance.
- I allow my addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from achieving intimacy in relationships.
- I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
- I diminish my capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use all the tools of recovery.
- I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
- I pull people toward me, but when they get close, I push them away.
- I refuse to give up my self-will to avoid surrendering to a power that is greater than myself.
- I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
- I withhold expressions of appreciation.
- I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.
- I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
- I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
- I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
- I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
- I accept sex and/or sexual attention when I want love.
- I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
- I make decisions without regard to the consequences.
- I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.
- I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
- I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think and how they “truly” feel.
- I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
- I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
- I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
- I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
- I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.
- I demand that my needs be met by others.
- I use charm and charisma to convince others of my capacity to be caring and compassionate.
- I use blame and shame to emotionally exploit others.
- I refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
- I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
- I have obsessive, compulsive thinking patterns and cannot focus on daily activities.
- I use terms of recovery in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
- I pretend to agree with others to get what I want.