Many couples become so enmeshed with one another that they become one. Each partner believes that their lover is necessary for life. Their relationship becomes everything to them. They forget their own individuality, becoming so preoccupied with making their relationship work. They forget about their own hobbies, family, friends, and everything else important to them. This is where the curse of codependency begins.
Whenever a person becomes fused with another and loses her identity, she becomes codependent. You can also call this relationship addiction. Relationship addiction happens when a person believes that a love is necessary for life. She does not have her own identity but derives it from someone else.
A person who is Addicted to Love:
- Has a fear of being alone
- Copes with abuse
- Clings to people and can’t let go
- Falls in love too tightly and too quickly
- Is a caretaker
- Has a fear of being independent
- Has no sexual boundaries
- Walks on eggshells around his or her partner
- Is worried about everybody else’s life
- Goes along with what everybody else’s plans
People in codependent relationships do not realize that they are in an unhealthy relationship. They are so focused on their partner, on fixing them, attending to them, and deriving their own sense of worth from them, that they begin to lose their sense of self and what their own needs are.
Love addicts spend more energy manipulating the environment -- in order to get others to give them what they need -- than they do in noticing and meeting their own needs. Nobody, no matter how outstanding, can continue to fulfill all your needs. When the relationship falls apart the addicted person becomes even more lost. For her, being “in love” is really a matter of being addicted to another person.
This is not love.
A person who experiences a break-up in a codependent relationship often feels inadequate and worthless and feels like the decision was one-sided (not theirs). Sometimes there is a violent ending. They might feel animosity for the other person and they might try to inflict pain.
The codependent usually tries to manipulate the person into coming back. They might seek solutions outside of themselves and self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or a new lover. There might have been a lot of denial from the start, a fantasy of what the love was really like. They might not have a realistic view of the other’s commitment.
If you believe that you have codependent tendencies, such as various degrees and layers of caretaking, low self-worth, repression, obsession, controlling, denial, dependency, poor communication, weak boundaries, lack of trust, anger, sex problems, and violence, I suggest that you begin to acknowledge them and get some help. Don’t be ashamed or hard on yourself in recognizing these traits, because most of us have some of them. The important thing is to see them and then stop acting on them.
Remember: to love and to have romantic love is not to become fully addicted to the relationship and to become fused with the other. It is to keep your separateness and autonomy.
"Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." - Judy Garland