The word codependency gets thrown around a lot: There are unhealthy codependency relationships, codependent companions, and codependent caretakers. But what does codependent actually mean — and is it really all that bad?
What Is unhealthy Codependency?
“Codependency is typically discussed in the context of substance use, where one person is abusing the substance, and he or she depends on the other person to supply money, food, or shelter. But codependency is much broader than that,” says Jonathan Becker, DO, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore,” Dr. Becker says. “Your mood, happiness, and identity are defined by the other person. In a codependent relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive and can’t make decisions for themselves, and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.”
Jose Rojos, now 36, was in such a relationship for close to three years. Seven years ago, the professional dog groomer was living with a boyfriend in the South with whom he was madly in love. There was one problem: His partner was insanely jealous, clingy, and prone to dramatic mood swings.
“He would hide my driver’s license so I would stay put,” Rojos recalls. “He would also buy me all sorts of gifts, including a pet schnauzer, to keep me around. I was in love with him and couldn’t leave, but his mood swings grew so severe that I became afraid and knew I had to get out.”
And get out, he did. Rojos relocated to New York City and severed all ties with his ex. “He was not a bad person, but he was bad for me,” says Rojos, who is now in a healthy long-term relationship.
While the jealous and controlling behavior in Rojos’s former relationship was definitely an issue, “Codependency [also] becomes problematic when one person is taking advantage of the other financially or emotionally,” Becker says.
Enabling is another sign of an unhealthy codependence. Mary-Catherine Segota, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Counseling Resource Services in Winter Garden, Florida, describes enabling as a behavior that’s used to ease relationship tension caused by one partner’s problematic habits. Enabling behavior, which is rarely seen in healthy relationships, includes bailing your partner out, repeatedly giving him or her another chance, ignoring the problem, accepting excuses, always being the one trying to fix the problem, or constantly coming to the rescue.
Source – http://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/do-you-have-a-codependent-personality.aspx