Are You In A Co-Dependent Relationship?

December 6, 2018  |  

Young couple is listening music at home

Source: Eva-Katalin / Getty

When we hear the term “co-dependent” we often craft an image of a couple that is “over-the-top in love” to the point where they can’t say anything or do anything without the other’s approval or presence. We roll our eyes when they refer to themselves as “we” or “us,” (even though this language has been proven to actually a good indicator of relationship health), and get annoyed when they ask their significant other for “permission” before making even the most minute decisions.

But according to social science, the layers of co-dependency are deeper than just our surface level observations.

“Codependence is an imbalanced relationship pattern where one partner assumes a high-cost ‘giver-rescuer’ role and the other the ‘taker-victim’ role,” explains Shawn Meghan Burn, Ph.D., author of “Unhealthy Helping: A Psychological Guide for Overcoming Codependence, Enabling, and Other Dysfunctional Helping,” and professor of psychology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, according to NBC News.

When defined as “give” and “taker-victim” roles, the implications for a co-dependent relationship suddenly become more serious than just “making every single plan together.”

Rob Weiss, Ph.D, also explained that this term can be used to describe the relationships of “the loved ones of addicts, due to their underlying, often unconscious childhood issues tend to, as adults, give too much and love too much. Thus, they attract, enable and enmesh with addicted partners.”

Whereas healthy relationships go through patterns of give and take, co-dependent relationships are in a constant state of imbalance.

“The codependent taker is usually some combination of needy, under-functioning, immature, addicted, entitled or troubled. They rely on the giver to take care of them, assume or soften the negative consequences for their actions, and to compensate for their under-functioning,” Burn explains.

“Meanwhile, the codependent giver is usually an empathic, forgiving, competent and altruistic person. They play the role of extreme caregiver, rescuer, supporter or confidante. They show love and caring by making sacrifices for the taker that usually enable rather than empower them.”

If this relationship functioning sounds sound similar to your relationship dynamic, it would behoove you to get relationship counseling for yourself and your and your partner combined.

“Counseling and self-help materials can help you understand the roots of your behavior, because different change strategies may be relevant depending on the cause,” Burns told NBC.

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