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Codependency Signs

by Ruby Martes

Codependency is a problem rooted in childhood. Codependents are sometimes, but not always, the children of alcoholics or drug abusers. Their childhood families may have been overly rigid or abusive. As adults, codependents find it difficult or impossible to form healthy relationships. They pay too much attention to the needs of other people and too little to their own.

Desire to " Rescue" People

Codependents try to "rescue" people who are in trouble. They may, for example, make excuses for the other person. This doesn't really help the other person who would be better off facing his problems directly and solving them. Instead, the other person becomes overly dependent on the codependent. That, in turn, makes the codependent feel useful and needed, which creates a vicious cycle. Because of their compulsion to "rescue," codependents are attracted to people who seem needy or even pitiful.

Fear of Abandonment

Codependents are so afraid of being abandoned that they will do almost anything to hang onto their partners. They believe they can get their partners to stay by always being the giver and never the taker. This generally backfires, as the partners are likely to feel smothered and controlled. The codependents often get burned out from all their efforts to take care of other people. When codependents feel insufficiently appreciated, they become resentful.

Feeling Helpless

Codependents may appear to be highly competent. They like to be in control of others. On the inside, though, codependents feel helpless. They have lost touch with their feelings and have little in the way of internal guidance. They have trouble making decisions. They don't trust their own thoughts and feelings and look to others for validation. They value the opinions of other people more highly than their own.

Low Self-Esteem

Codependents have low self-esteem. They look outside themselves for something to bolster their sense of self-worth. In addition to compulsively trying to take care of other people, they also may abuse drugs or alcohol. They may be compulsive gamblers or workaholics. To break out of the cycle of codependency, they must learn to develop inner strength and be more self-reliant. They need to become more aware of their own thoughts and feelings and to value them more.

About the Author

Ruby Martes has been writing professionally since 1985, specializing in pop culture, quitting smoking and odd bits of trivia. Martes has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Arts in English/creative writing from San Francisco State and a Juris Doctor from University of California, Hastings, where she was a law journal editor.