Table of contents:
- What is codependency and how does it work
- Where does codependency come from
- How to know if you are in a codependent relationship
- What's wrong with codependency
- What to do if you are in a codependent relationship
2023 Author: Malcolm Clapton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-07-28 10:38
Blind self-sacrifice and total control over a partner are bad recipes for happiness.
This article is part of the Auto-da-fe project. In it, we declare war on everything that prevents people from living and becoming better: breaking laws, believing in nonsense, deceit and fraud. If you've come across a similar experience, share your stories in the comments.
Everyone has different ideas about ideal relationships. Someone is sure that in a pair one should give and the other should receive. One participant is to be strong and responsible, and the other is weak and helpless. Then people will complement each other, and the relationship will turn out to be harmonious. However, in fact, such partners can be called codependent. And this is not at all healthy and romantic.
What is codependency and how does it work
The term "codependency" was originally applied to those who found themselves in a relationship with a person suffering from addictions: alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling. But this concept also has a broader meaning - an unhealthy dependence on another person, most often emotional, sometimes financial or even physical.
This type of attitude is best described by a psychological model called the Karpman triangle. People involved in it choose one of three roles: victim, persecutor, or savior.
- Victim - a weak and unhappy person who suffers from the actions of the persecutor, wants to shift responsibility to another and needs help.
- Pursuer - terrorizes the victim, points out her shortcomings and enjoys it.
- Savior - rescues the victim, protects her from the pursuer and feels like a hero.
The most interesting thing is that in codependent relationships, people can alternately try on all these roles. For example, a domestic tyrant first humiliates and beats his wife, then becomes a victim and says that it was she who brought him, and in the finale of this three-act play he himself consoles the woman, gives flowers and gifts, confesses his love - and thus turns into a savior.
This is how codependency is formed. People lock themselves in Karpman's triangle, play their chosen roles - sometimes they remain unchanged for a long time, sometimes they change.
The scenarios may not be as dramatic as in cases of domestic violence or alcoholism, but still painful. For example, one of the partners constantly saves and protects the other from the outside world (bad bosses, evil people), listens to his complaints, consoles, supports, is ready to leave all his affairs and rush to help. The other side gets used to it and takes it for granted. And when the savior cannot help her out again, she will be very disappointed and angry. And the roles will change: the savior will turn into a victim, and she will turn into a persecutor.
Codependents can be not only lovers, but also friends, colleagues, parents and their adult children.
Where does codependency come from
This type of relationship is typical for people who grew up in not the most prosperous families. This is not only about situations when an adult drank, a child was beaten and an unhealthy atmosphere reigned at home. Children of authoritarian parents are prone to codependency, those who were too patronized, those who grew up with seriously ill relatives. Such a person has problems with his own boundaries, there is no clear idea of his “I”, and he easily dissolves in a partner.
As a rule, it does not happen that one person is prone to codependency, and his partner is not. People initially, by subtle signs, identify and find such a person who will allow them to serve their mental needs in a relationship. For example, the son of a domineering mother will certainly choose a woman who does not look like a parent: quiet, modest, docile. It is she who will subsequently become a victim, and he will become a domestic tyrant, jealous, controlling, criticizing.
Or the daughter of an alcoholic will pay attention to a strong, responsible man, and then their relationship will be held on to the struggle for power. Or, on the contrary, on the intelligent, helpless in everyday life, and then she will become a "mother-savior" for him. Both the one and the other scenario with the daughter of an alcoholic has every chance of ending with her husband's drunkenness.
How to know if you are in a codependent relationship
Sacrificial love is often romanticized, as are relationships full of suffering, heated quarrels and fiery reconciliations. Therefore, even if a person is unhappy, he does not always realize that something is wrong with his pair. These signs of codependency should alert you:
- You don't feel happy if you can't do something good for your partner.
- You are afraid to make independent decisions.
- Maintain the relationship, even if it hurts you.
- We are ready to sacrifice anything, even our principles, if only the other person is happy.
- Your partner's interests are more important to you than your own.
- You feel guilty if you do something for yourself.
- Don't talk about your feelings and needs.
- You are terrified of parting and perceive it as the end of the world.
- You think that you are fully responsible for the other person and without you he will not cope with anything.
- You are often jealous.
- You constantly need to know where your half is and what it is doing.
- You think that you are able to influence another person, change his behavior and views, direct him in the right direction.
- We are ready to maintain a favorable climate in relationships at any cost.
- You don't see the point in anything other than relationships, you don't feel fulfilled outside of them.
- Be sensitive to the mood of your couple and think that it depends only on your actions and deeds.
- We are sure that you and only you can make your partner happy.
- You have no activities and hobbies that are not associated with your loved one.
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What's wrong with codependency
Describing codependency may seem like an ideal script for a melodrama to some. They are in love to the point of losing their minds, dissolve in each other and are ready for anything for the sake of their love. But things are not so rosy. Codependent relationships are often painful for both parties.
- People completely lose themselves and their boundaries. Those who prefer the role of victim or savior give up their desires, needs and hobbies, because they believe that their partner expects it from them, that it will be better that way. They may even give up their careers or ruin relationships with friends and family.
- Instead of solving their problems, victims simply shift responsibility to the savior. They very quickly get used to this situation and, as a result, become helpless and unadapted to life. All this will sooner or later turn into disappointment, despair and depression.
- Persecutors also deprive themselves of the opportunity to build normal relationships - family, work, or friendships. Friends, colleagues and loved ones will leave him and try not to deal with him. Unless they turn out to be the same codependent.
- This relationship is at the heart of the abuse. It combines different types of violence: emotional, physical, financial. Abusers want to completely control their partner and achieve this by any means. They put on the mask of the pursuer and torture the victim, periodically turning into her own savior. This closed triangle is one of the reasons why abusive relationships are so difficult to end.
What to do if you are in a codependent relationship
There are some tips:
1. Realize that your relationship is developing in the Karpman triangle scenario. This is the main step. Since the propensity for codependent behavior is formed in childhood, a person is sure that it should be so. He does not think of love without suffering, self-sacrifice, salvation and total control.
2. Analyze what your current relationship reminds you of. With whom of your loved ones did a similar story repeat itself in childhood? What are you trying to "act out" in adulthood?
3. Get ready to break up. In a codependent relationship, one of the partners always has the idea of "the magic power of love": supposedly his love and care can change the other. This illusion allows you to exist in codependency for a very long time.
If you realize that you are in a pathological scenario of a relationship, even changing your behavior and starting to define your own boundaries, you will face manipulation by your partner. It can be either aggression, blackmail ("I will commit suicide if you leave"), or remorse, guilt ("I will change, I will do everything to keep us together").
You can change yourself, but you cannot change the other. With this intention, you will again fall into Karpman's triangle. Therefore, the best way to have a healthy relationship is to step out of the old and start new ones. And in the meantime, visit a psychologist to work out your desire to donate and help once and for all.
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