Codependent people are dependent on the needs of, or control of, another person. Someone who is codependent usually makes themselves and their own needs a lower priority than those of others and can even become obsessed with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship: family, coworker, friend, and of course romantic. The term codependency was first applied to the spouses of alcoholics in early research on alcoholism and its effects on the family, which is telling because it seems that people who have or have had issues with substance abuse and addiction often struggle with codependency issues, too. Here are 5 things only codependent people understand.
#1. You struggle with low self-esteem.
this is codependent on so many levels, actually
Low self-esteem means that you think you’re not good enough or you constantly compare yourself to other people. And, even if you think highly of yourself, this can still be a sign of low self-esteem because this is just a front; you may actually be overcompensating for feeling unlovable or inadequate. Usually feelings of shame, guilt, and perfectionism are at the root of low self-esteem.
#2. You don’t set boundaries with others.
Boundaries are sort of an imaginary line between you and others. Setting boundaries is important when it comes to physical, tangible things (i.e. your body, money, belongings) but just as important is establishing – and maintaining – boundaries when it comes to your feelings, thoughts and needs. This is particularly difficult for people who struggle with codependency. They often feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems and even blame their own feelings and problems on other people. Then again, some codependents have rigid boundaries. Others have a combination of both weak and rigid boundaries, reacting to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you will either adopt it as your own belief or become overly defensive.
#3. You’re a caretaker – and way too into it.
This stems from having poor boundaries and shows up like this: when someone else has a problem, you want to help them to the point that you lose yourself in the situation. Now, it is totally natural and human to feel empathy and sympathy for others but, codependents take this way too far, putting other people’s needs ahead of their own. In fact, they need to help and might take it personally if the person they are trying to help declines their offers of help.
#4. You’re a “people-pleaser.”
It’s okay to want to make someone you care about happy but, someone who is codependent might actually feel like they have no choice in the matter, and instead feel obligated to please that person and/or others. In fact, saying “no” causes anxiety to the person who is codependent. You might be codependent if you sacrifice your own needs or go out of your way to accommodate other people’s needs.
#5. You’re uncomfortable with intimacy.
By “intimacy” we don’t just mean sex, however, having difficulties with and around sex are often an indication of an intimacy problem. But here we mean being able to be open and close with someone when it comes to an intimate relationship. Because people with codependency issues have both feelings of shame and weak boundaries, they might fear being judged, rejected, or abandoned if they are “themselves.” On the other hand, they might also fear being smothered and losing their independence when it comes to being in an intimate relationship. Codependent people might start to believe that they simply don’t need closeness and intimacy for quality of life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.