Codependency can be, in a way, addicting. It even has the word “dependency” within it, hinting at its addictive qualities. In the same way we can turn to substances, gambling, shopping, or eating to fill a void, we can become dependent on people to fill a similar hole. While a mental health expert can help one discover what it is that they, specifically, are lacking that they’re trying to make up for or soothe with a codependent relationship, they will often tell you it has to do with something fundamental being missing in one’s life.
Like with other things on which we can be dependent – like alcohol or unhealthy foods – the more codependent relationships you have, the more you want. The further into a binge you go, the harder it is to get out. People can binge codependent relationships, too, engaging in one after another. It’s common to get into relationship patterns, seeking out a relationship dynamic that looks a lot like your last one. Emotionally detached relationships. Abusive relationships. We see people go after the same kind, over and over again. And it’s no different with codependent relationships. But being chronically in these types of relationships can change the way you think. We spoke with experts in the relationship and mental health fields on this topic. Damona Hoffman, Certified Dating Coach and host of “The Dates and Mates Show,” along with Shadeen Francis, LMFT, gave us their insight on the topic.
Where does it begin?
All behavior comes from somewhere, so we asked our experts when or how codependent behaviors start. Francis says, “Codependency is a relational strategy we learn in order to get our needs met. This pattern of relationship usually begins in childhood or early life through our parents or guardians. We may model after their adult relationships but also may play out these roles with them.”