Characteristics of Codependency

1.     Distorted Reality - A codependent person is often blind to the ways they are being manipulated. Sometimes codependent people even fear reality so they hold on to habits within a relationship, to stay disconnected from reality.

2.     Incorrect Beliefs about Responsibility - Codependent people often struggle with how much to give or receive in a relationship. They assume it is their responsibility to make others happy which can also cause them to think others are responsible for making them happy as well. Since you can only truly be responsible for yourself, this type of relationship does not work. Trying to be responsible for someone other than yourself:

a.     Keeps others from taking responsibility for themselves

b.     Keeps you from being responsible for yourself

c.     Creates resentment for being the responsible one all the time

d.     Leads to taking yourself too seriously

3.     Being Manipulated - Being fueled by guilt and shame the codependent is controlled by the “have to” mentality. They often think that if they aren’t able to help someone enough they could potentially lose love and acceptance from that person. They are also greatly influenced by other’s opinions and want to be who everyone else wants them to be. Others aren’t the only ones that manipulate the codependent. The codependent manipulates themselves as well. Their need for perfection keeps them going in order to avoid failure. They often have two speeds: all or nothing.

4.     Manipulating Others - Their desire for perfection often seeps onto others. A codependent person wants to “fix” people that don’t necessarily want to be “fixed”. Through using praise, sarcasm, withdrawal, and other passive aggressive tactics, codependents will figure out a way to get the perfection (or at least the appearance of perfection) they crave.

5.     Hurt and Anger - While everyone feels these emotions, hurt and anger may be more common for a codependent person because their inability to say “no”. They expect everyone to know the great lengths they are going to to help people and desire an equal amount of praise and recognition in return. When most people would put up a boundary, the codependent continues to say “yes”, and then blames the people they are caring for, for their inability to say “no”.

6.     Guilt - The codependent’s guilt is actually 1. false guilt because they haven’t actually done anything wrong, or 2. shame because it’s more about their identity than their actions. The codependent will describe the emotion as guilt. The codependent feels guilty about everything; what they did, what they didn’t do, what they should have done. The feeling rarely goes away, which keeps them fueled to take care of others but is way more of an obligation than a desire.

7.     Misplaced Identity -  The codependent rarely knows it, but being codependent is their identity. They may describe it as being selfless, or a caretaker, but they often don’t know who they are without this trait.