By now, you have heard the characteristics of Counterdependency. But what do you do if you're in a relationship with one or work with one who refuses to address their issues or get into recovery? 1. Get into recovery yourself. When one person begins changing and growing towards being healthier, it has a direct impact on those around them-- even if they won't work on their own issues through counseling. Learning how you contribute to the relational issues (even if it's in a passive way), can provide your relationship with changes that happen through your individual growth. You may not be the one who is directly causing the issues, but you might be the one that is allowing them to be in your life!
2. Don't argue with a Counterdependent. Because Counterdependent's are "always right" and the way they argue is usually grandiose and often times destructively critical and contemptuous, it can prove to be more frustrating than healthy to engage in arguements where you can't ever seem to be heard. This doesn't mean to avoid conflict, but rather to choose your battles, and agree to disagree. Know your own truth, and don't become engaged in contemptuous, belittling, rageful, grandiose, or attacking and unhealthy conflict. Learn appropriate detachment through a professional counselor.
3. Don't feed into their grandiosity. Many times a Codependent will become involved with a Counterdependent, whether through work or relationship. Initially, the Codependent will feed the Counterdependent's inflated ego and grandiosity. This doesn't mean to withhold positive interactions and compliments, but do so in truth and not out of a place of seeking approval.
4. Above all else, keep your boundaries! Counterdependents can be pretty oblivious to the boundaries of those around them-- whether boundaries of physical space and time (standing too close, consistently showing up extremely late to meetings or committments with little remorse), emotion, thought, or sexual boundaries. It is so important to not only set firm boundaries about what you will and will not allow with a Counterdependent, but even more important to follow through with the consequences of violating a boundary. Boundaries with no follow through have no power.
5. Find your own sense of "self", independent from the Counterdependent. Many times, a Counterdependent takes ownership of the relational identity, including the majority of the "power". If you find that you are "dependent" on this person to make you feel good about yourself or "worthy", find other ways that are healthier (and come from the inside) to have a better self esteem and self image. Find your own hobbies and interests that make you feel good about yourself. Develop healthy relationships outside of the Counterdependent. If it's a work environment, develop healthy relationships with your co-workers that help promote a good support system for a healthier work environment. Don't wait around on a Counterdependent to give you the things you can be giving yourself already. After all, it doesn't usually feel very good to someone when you make them totally responsible for your own happiness! Take ownership of your own happiness, and you will feel much more rewarded.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help you grow as a person, and keep your sanity if a Counterdependent refuses to get into recovery. For more information, feel free to give one of our relationship experts a call!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.