Codependency has a great impact on our relationships, and is very destructive to both the individual, as well as the relationships well-being. Here are some ways we see codependency impacting relationships:
- Because of the excessive care-taking in codependency, and how the codependent feels responsible for others actions, feelings, well-being, and choices, codependents often end up pushing away those they love the most. When someone feels like you are enmeshing in their life, they become resentful and bitter. They often don't see it as "caring", but rather as "overwhelming". Codependents then often feel isolated and alone, because they don't feel needed. Also, they are so busy taking care of others, they don't anticipate and verbalize their own needs, wondering why others don't do the same for them. This leaves them feeling unfulfilled.
- Low self esteem that results from codependency can also have a negative impact on relationships. The codependent places ownership of their self esteem on others around them, which also leaves them feeling alone and unfulfilled.
- Because codependents are often in denial about their actions and how they impact their life, they will often bury their head in the sand about issues surrounding them. Staying busy to avoid their feelings, as well as minimizing, ignoring, and rationalizing the behaviors of those around them only allows for the relationship problems to get worse.
- The fear of anger and confrontation that goes along with codependency (as stated above), causes a codependent to avoid any type of confrontation. Healthy relationships need healthy confrontation to have intimacy. If a codependent isn't confronting the relationship issues for fear of anger, problems don't have the chance to get resolved.
- The stress of codependency can lead to headaches, asthma, ulcers, high blood pressure, and a host of other medical issues. These issues have a direct impact on the relationship a codependent is in.
- In an attempt to deal with the emotional pain, often codependents will turn to addictive behavior such as food, alcohol, drugs, and spending money to further bury their head in the sand and avoid feeling. This can cause relationship issues, a further decrease in intimacy, as well as financial problems for the relationship.
Do you see yourself in any of the codependency characteristics? Awareness is the first step to healing! Check back next week for a series of blogs on emotional affairs... something we are seeing in our office with increased frequency!
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.