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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

Codependency

Codependency is defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance” on a partner who typically requires support due to illness or addiction. The term first began appearing around 1980 and English-language usage has increased steadily since then.

Most people have a natural tendency to want to care for other human beings. When a loved one is sick, hurting, or in pain, it only makes sense to want to step in and try to make them feel better. However, in some instances, people form an unhealthy attachment to the person whom they are supporting. They will place the wants and needs of another above all else, to the point where their identity and self-worth rely on being needed by that person.

Sometimes, codependency is referred to as relationship addiction, and can lead to a perpetual pattern of give and take that relies on an imbalance of power benefiting one person, but not the other. Unfortunately, excessive reliance on a partner usually results in a one-sided relationship that can be emotionally destructive and gets progressively worse over time. The only way to break free from these types of troublesome, toxic relationships is to learn how to make your own needs a priority. The best place to start is by meeting with a therapist who can help you recognize signs of codependency, identify your own needs, and then create a plan to reduce codependent tendencies. If you’re searching for an experienced and dedicated therapist for codependency in Los Angeles, contact Blair Wellness Group.

 

What Does It Mean To Be Codependent?

 

Codependency has traditionally been a term used to describe the relationship between a person who is abusing drugs, alcohol, or the person they depend on to take care of them who enables their destructive behavior. Over the years, codependency has evolved to describe a much broader range of circumstances. For instance, it can involve any relationship in which two people become mutually dependent on one another in a way that one person perpetually receives the help they need while the other person feels satisfied in knowing that they are needed. 

 

Although tending to the needs of others is something worthwhile and positive, when someone completely loses sight of their own needs and identity and becomes immersed in the other person’s problems, it is considered a codependent relationship. This creates an unhealthy balance within the relationship that can leave the provider feeling resentful, depressed, and unfulfilled. 

Causes of Codependency

 

Codependency usually has its roots in dysfunctional or abusive childhood relationships. Children who grew up in a household where one of their parents had an addiction or were neglectful may have experienced codependency first-hand. The codependent behaviors between two parents may have been viewed as something that will help their family cope during particularly difficult and stressful times, but they can also cause unhealthy repercussions for the children of those households. That’s because children often learn to use the same dysfunctional strategies to cope with their own relationships in adulthood. 

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency

 

People who have codependent tendencies prioritize other people’s needs, wants, or problems over their own. Their purpose, self-esteem, and feelings of self-worth become tied to how much they feel needed by another person. In a healthy relationship, both people rely on each other for help and support, but in a codependent relationship, one person does all of the giving and the other does all of the taking. That leaves the person doing all of the giving to feel as though they have no purpose or value outside of their dysfunctional relationship.

 

The first step toward resolving and healing from a codependent relationship is to recognize that there is a problem. Some signs that you may be involved in a codependent relationship include:

 

  • Needing another person to like you in order to feel good about yourself
  • Putting all of your efforts into trying to “fix” someone 
  • Justifying another person’s poor behaviors
  • Constantly apologizing for things when you have done nothing wrong
  • Spending all of your time trying focusing on the needs of another person and neglecting your own needs
  • Not wanting to voice your true feelings for fear that the other person will leave
  • Wanting to be the sole caregiver and refusing help from others
  • Living in a constant state of fear of being rejected

Complications Related to Codependency

 

People who are in codependent relationships may feel happy and purpose-driven at first, but over time their self-esteem will diminish and they can be left feeling exhausted, hopeless, and unfulfilled. To make matters worse, some people are coerced into the same bad habits that the person they are caring for engage in. Even if that isn’t the case, many people still struggle with things like depression and anxiety and as a result, they may resort to drugs or alcohol on their own as a way to feel better and “escape” their situation. 

 

Besides having a higher risk of substance use disorders, those who struggle with codependency are more likely to have other co-occurring mental health conditions such as eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety.  

Taking Control of Codependency

 

Individuals who are in a codependent relationship may feel completely isolated and powerless over their situation, but it’s important to know that codependency is a learned behavior and something that can be changed. The first step is to evaluate your relationship and the impact it’s having on the rest of your life. It’s also important to dedicate some time to get to know yourself again and identify your own needs and wants for your life. At the end of this introspection, you’ll likely realize that your one-sided relationship has to change. That may include setting boundaries, ceasing enabling of another, or letting go of a toxic relationship altogether.       

Get Help From a Therapist For Codependency in Los Angeles

 

Breaking the cycle of codependency can be very difficult to do on your own. Enlisting the help of a trusted therapist can help you recognize co-dependent behaviors, overcome feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and create an effective plan for regaining control of your life. If you’re interested in learning more, or would you like to set up a meeting with an experienced therapist who is dedicated to your health and wellbeing, contact Blair Wellness Group at 310-999-4996 to schedule an appointment today. 

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Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Cassidy Blair and team of professionals are available to provide a variety of psychological services, therapy, and Concierge treatment during weekdays, evenings, and on weekends.