17 Signs You're Codependent (AKA Addicted To Relationships)

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What Is Codependency & The Biggest Signs Of A Codependent Person

Codependency is a misunderstood term that is severely overused. For those who are actually afflicted by this condition, it is not something to be taken lightly. It permeates your whole life and affects all your interactions with others.

Understanding what codependency is and how it affects you is the first step to recovery, so that is what I will be focusing on here today. I will be writing a series of articles as I do the work on healing myself of this psychological affliction and focusing on the different aspects of codependency.

Right! So, what is this codependency thing anyway? Simply put, codependency is an addiction. The person who is a codependent is addicted to relationships and the validation they get from them. They will do whatever it takes, to the detriment of themselves, to keep receiving this validation.

Some never break out of these unhealthy relationships they get into, but then there are others who jump from relationship to relationship trying to find the holy grail of relationships. I fall into the latter category.

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17 Signs You're Codependent (AKA Addicted To Relationships)

1. An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.

2. A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue.

3. A tendency to do more than their share all of the time.

4. A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts.

5. An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment.

6. An extreme need for approval and recognition.

7. A sense of guilt when asserting themselves.

8. A compelling need to control others.

9. Lack of trust in self and/or others.

10. Fear of being abandoned or alone.

11. Difficulty identifying feelings.

12. Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change.

13. Problems with intimacy/boundaries.

14. Chronic anger.

15. Lying/dishonesty.

16. Poor communications.

17. Difficulty making decisions.

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As I was researching codependency after coming to the realization that I may be one, I came upon this article and it was like a slap in the face. I ticked all the boxes! I had hesitated on the lying/dishonesty part as I pride myself on my honesty. Until I realized that I had always been lying to myself and, in turn, lying to everyone around me.

It is true that what you hate, you usually embody in some way. I have always had a deep aversion to people who lie and here I was the biggest liar I know! Realizing this was a very sobering experience and one of my biggest steps towards recovery. I am now being brutally honest with myself and, in turn, with everyone around me.

My truth will set me free and your truth can do the same for you. Being honest with yourself is an incredibly healing act of love that you can do for yourself, to recover from an addiction like this, is a key to recovery.

One of the main problems with being codependent is that you have no idea what you are doing to yourself, it is completely unconscious behavior. It is usually so deeply ingrained into your personality due to the fact that the damage you received to your psyche happened as your personality was being formed when you were a child. From the article:

“Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another.”

My childhood was the perfect storm of dysfunction to create the codependent that I am today. From an early age, I witnessed the codependent behavior in my family. This was also influenced by a culture where the modus operandi was to take care of the man, the head of the household, no matter what.

So, this behavior I learned was passed down from generation to generation. That then leads to this:

“It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.”

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As I grew up in this environment with such dysfunctional behavior, it was, of course, totally normal to me. This is how you act in a relationship. This is what you do.

I immediately fell into this pattern with my first husband whom I married right out of high school. He was an alcoholic and a cocaine addict who was mentally abusive towards me. I participated in this abuse by allowing him to abuse me. I accepted the abuse as I didn’t know any different.

This was what love was to me, this is what I witnessed and knew as a child. I also accepted the abuse, because this is all I felt that I was worth.

Not all of my marriages were abusive, but I did want to save and “heal” all of the men I had been with. I became a master at what I did, though, and nurtured and cared for these men to the point where it was detrimental to both them and me. It was detrimental to their own personal development, as well as my own.

Eventually, I would become overwhelmed and miserable and end the relationship, only to soon start the cycle all over again.

But all that ends now and I will break free by writing about my experiences and the insights I’ve learned from them. I will no longer feel guilty or ashamed for expressing myself or asserting myself. I will speak what I really feel, not what I think other people want me to feel or say.

My greatest hope is that, in using my writing to facilitate my own healing, I will help to heal others who are also suffering from this.

I truly believe that the greatest pain you possess can be transformed into your greatest strength and gift to the world.

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Victoria Gavin is an American ex-pat who writes about love and relationships. 

This article was originally published at P.S. I Love You. Reprinted with permission from the author.