Codependency used to be a term used to refer to spouses of alcoholics, but over the last few decades, it has expanded to refer to individuals who depend on their significant others more than they probably should. This goes beyond income and financial stability. It has to do with emotional manipulation and control.
Researchers have found that people coming from dysfunctional families are more likely to be codependent than children of “happy” families. Unfortunately, that means most of us are destined to have codependent characteristics. Luckily, those characteristics can be reversed over time.
Let’s take a look at some symptoms of codependency so you can determine if you face this problem.
Ever feel like you’re not good enough for anyone? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? These are indicators of low self-esteem, which could be triggered by codependency. Even people who appear to be completely confident can struggle with low self-esteem under the surface. They use their confidence as a mask to hide their true feelings. If you are genuinely confident about yourself, you will have no need for comparisons.
The Need To Please Others
If you feel like you always have to keep other people happy, you might be a codependent. It’s natural to want to make people happy, but for codependents, it feels like a necessity. The thought of saying “no” to someone causes them anxiety. Codependents will sacrifice their own needs to fulfill the needs of others.
Weak Personal Boundaries
Codependents often feel to blame for other people’s struggles or feelings, even if they are no way involved with the situation. They feel a need to help the person get better, no matter what sacrifices that might entail on their end. Their personal boundaries become weak and blurry, to the point that they lose themselves in others. They continue this pattern even if the other person does not respond to the assistance.
Moreover, weak personal boundaries can make a codependent extremely receptive to negative criticism. They may absorb negative statements as the truth, despite the reality of the situation. Without any clear boundaries, it’s hard to see what’s true and what is not.
Rigid Personal Boundaries
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, some codependents have extremely rigid personal boundaries. They shut themselves off from society and become overly withdrawn. This is usually the case when the person that the codependent is “dependent” on hurts him or her in a significant way. Codependents with rigid boundaries can come across as very defensive, getting upset by the smallest comments thrown their way. This partially stems from low self-esteem and self-worth.