Codependency is an unhealthy situation in which one person develops inappropriate or excessive caring behaviors toward another over time. The caregiver or “codependent” tries so hard to always please and take care of their partners “dependent” needs, that each looses their own identity and the ability to function well on their own. As a result, the relationship suffers as neither partner is able to flourish in their own right.
The dependent person in the relationship may truly be in need of help in some way. They may have emotional, physical, or financial difficulties, or addictions that make it seem that they can use help, even if they don’t ask for it. The codependent partner takes on managing the other person, constantly helping them, making excuses to cover for them, etc. out of a desire to be needed and fear of losing the relationship.
Signs of a codependent individual are:
- controlling or dominant behavior
- distrust of others
- problems with intimacy / expressing feelings
- excessive caretaking or hypervigilance
- stress related illness
- clinical depression
Codependency is mutually harmful to both parties in a relationship. A codependent person does not know how to express their needs so they resort to controlling behavior as a way to fill their own emotional void. Then they become frustrated and angry over time as they are unable to fix the other person. This can lead to resentment on both sides.
Without help, the cycle can continue throughout life into other relationships as well. Counseling can help codependent individuals find joy through healthy, meaningful relationships.
How can Codependency Counseling and Therapy help?
Counseling for codependency teaches you how to appropriately value and take care of yourself, establish healthy relationship boundaries, and effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner. You can learn to successfully manage any guilt, shame or other negative feelings that may arise as you start to better yourself. The ultimate goal of counseling is to help you live confidently and free yourself from the burden of your codependency. As your ability to live as an individual improves, your relationship should improve as well.
If you want to be free from codependency, the counselors in our St. Peters, MO office, can help.