Written by Kashvi Tiwari
What’s a Codependent Relationship?
It’s January- the month of new beginnings, ambitious resolutions, and National Codependency Awareness Month - the topic of this article. Codependency is a psychological condition that can occur within a relationship where one is excessively dependent on, or even controlled by another person in the relationship. However, it’s important to note that codependency is NOT a mental illness; it’s a false perception that can develop within a person- in most cases because of exposure to unhealthy family/relationship dynamics at an early age. Codependent people are constantly looking for acceptance and approval and react poorly to criticism. They tend to put others before themselves, and as a result usually have low self esteem. They can also struggle with following, setting, and enforcing boundaries. Needless to say, codependent relationships are toxic for everyone involved. In efforts to avoid conflicts with their partner (in this instance I’m discussing a romantic relationship, but codependent relationships can also be familial or platonic), codependents will enable bad behavior done by their partner by excusing it, hiding it, or shifting the blame for it. This can be especially dangerous when it comes to addiction- there’s a high percentage of addicts who are in codependent relationships- and codependency can keep people from improving and recovering; in an attempt to keep their partner happy, codependents might end up hurting them instead.
Healing from Codependency
So, what can be done? It’s a difficult situation because codependents are usually acting out of love and care for their partners, which unintentionally backfires. The aim of National Codependency Month is to help raise awareness for, and even solve this problem. The best things to do are: research into codependency (if you’re reading this article, you’ve got that down), spread awareness of codependency; most people who are codependent don’t even realize it, and if you yourself are codependent, it’s time to start learning to say “no”, creating and enforcing healthy boundaries, and understanding you aren’t responsible for being the caretaker of your partner (in the case of a romantic relationship). Most importantly, you need to seek help from a therapist or mental health professional. It’s the most effective way to come out of codependency.