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Codependency | An Addict’s Perfect Partnership

8 May 2011 by Recovering You, 5 Comments »

Living with an addict, loving an addict, relationship with an addict, addiction


Codependency is a term often used in relation to the partner or spouse of an addict. There is reasoning that to stay and tolerate the destructive behaviours and actions of an addict in a relationship, that codependency must be present.

So what is codependency?

Codependency is defined as taking an excessively passive, controlling or caretaking role in your relationship with another.

When someone is codependent they tend to spend the majority of their effort in their relationship, monitoring, controlling and attempting to enhance the feelings of someone they love.

If a person is in a codependent relationship, there exists an imbalance that is both unhealthy, and ultimately destructive to the codependent whose self esteem, needs and self worth are sacrificed for that of the other person?.

How does codependency show up in your relationship with an addict?

You might believe that they won? cope on their own without you, that you are their only chance of recovery. You may feel that if you can just keep helping them, they will find their way eventually. Or you might believe that you have done things that make them want to drink, take drugs or gamble, and that if only you were a better partner they might not do it as much. You will likely diminish or deny your feelings about their problem, or the effects it is having on you.

Your main aim is to keep them happy, and make life as simple and stress free as possible for them, in the hope that it reduces the need for them to indulge in their addiction. Nothing that you need to do to keep the peace or provide for your partner is considered too much. The more you can do, the more validation you hope for. But it tends to backfire as your efforts are unappreciated or noticed by someone whose prevailing thoughts are on getting their next fix.

So you are probably failing miserably on all accounts and that makes you want to try even harder.

You are in a cycle of codependency. And isn? going to save anyone.

Codependents believe that they are acting out of compassion and often become martyrs to the cause of their addict. Their intentions are good.

But in fact, if anything, you are enabling and you are protecting your addict from facing the full ugliness of their addiction as you provide excuses, deny the impact of their actions and let them continue to use you as their source of comfort while giving back nothing.

Codependency can be hard to identify because we often think we are just being selfless, caring and loving. We feel noble for loving someone at his or her worst. I never would have identified with being codependent but I see in hindsight that I definitely had codependent patterns which I always thought were me just being too nice for my own good. And I was right in a way.

It is known through research that a codependent person will probably have been raised to think that setting themselves aside for others is part of being in a relationship. Messages of this ilk can be strong in family situations, particularly if you were raised by an addicted parent. We learn to keep quiet, make peace, do what they ask and work around their addiction in any way possible. But there is a major difference to loving in these ways, and giving away who we are, for the sake of a relationship and the other person in it.

Are you operating with any of the following?

  • Desperate for approval
  • Uncomfortable being strong or assertive
  • Wanting to control others
  • Basing self worth on the approval of others
  • Denying or diminishing feelings
  • Struggling to make decisions in fear of upsetting others
  • Giving up interests, friends or hobbies for the sake of others
  • Feeling unnecessarily responsible for your loved ones actions
  • Mistaking the need to rescue someone, with loving them
  • Confusing being needed for being loved
  • Giving more of yourself than the people you love give back to you
  • Feeling upset when people don? notice how much you are giving
  • Avoiding abandonment by staying in unhealthy relationships

You may be codependent and it is time to reset the habits that are causing you (and your addict) harm.

You are not wrong in wanting love, validation and respect. We all want these things.

But you must look to yourself first to find them. An addict is certainly incapable of giving you these things, while they are struggling to have them for themselves and in life your best guarantee of being given the appreciation you deserve is to expect it from yourself.

The opposite of codependency is to become the designer and director of YOUR life first. You can not, and do not need to, control any other life except you own and when you redirect the energy you have given away to living in someone else? shadow back to YOU, the possibilities are endless and incredible.

You can be the most honest, loving and loyal person in your life.

And today is the day to begin getting to know that fabulous person.

So what do YOU want? Who do YOU want to be? What are YOUR needs and desires? And how will YOU make sure they are met?

Photo credit:) 2009Alex

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  1. […] aware of codependent tendencies that cause you to want to rescue or save your addict. Codependency is defined as taking an excessively passive, caretaking or controlling role in your relationship […]

  2. esther says:

    This is a very good site. Thank you for the helpful and encouraging information. I am a codependent in recovery! Yay me!

  3. joanna says:

    Was great to read and could not have made it more clear that I am in a codependent relationship but all I want to do is help my partner through his recovery with the hope of having a normal future together. However I do feel Im doing more to help him than he is to help himself which sometimes makes me question why I bother but at the end of the day I am madly in love with him and couldnt imagine my life without him. 🙁

    • Recovering You says:

      Thanks for dropping by Joanna

      I totally understand your feelings, and how it feels to love someone so much that you want to do anything for them. But at the end of the day, if you are fighting for your partner’s recovery harder than they are, it probably won’t get you or them anywhere. Our addicts have to want it for themselves, and they have to actively take steps and make choices that will secure their recovery. In my experience, this is when we can help them more, when they are already taking the lead, but can use a hand to hold onto.

      Sending you best wishes.

  4. […] Also here are some helpfull posts I was sent a while ago. Perhaps you may find them useful. Codependency – The addicts perfect alibi | Recovering You

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