Love kills slowly, the wrong kind at least. This is what we call “toxic love” or more technically known as codependency.
Codependency is a type of behavior where an individual is overly passive or overly caring that it negatively affects his/her relationships with others as well as his/her quality of life. Codependency does not only affect a romantic relationship; it can also happen at work, in families, friendships, or a community.
Initially, codependency was diagnosed in people with addictions, such as drug or alcohol, and affects their relationships with others they come into contact with. However, the term has since grown to include those who are not substance-dependent but also to some of those who come from dysfunctional families.
Codependency symptoms can be seen feelings and behaviors that normal people experience. However, these thoughts and behaviors surpass what we call normal.
The main symptom is extremely low self-esteem. Codependents have a “never good enough” attitude which usually manifests itself in these ways:
- · feeling worthless and ashamed to receive recognition, praise or presents
- · constantly needing approval and recognition
- · having trouble deciding and admitting being wrong
- · unable to ask others for help or to meet his/her desires
- · has trouble getting started, meeting timelines, and completing projects
- · or contrary to the above, he/she may feel better than everyone else
This lack of self-worth is something they unconsciously cannot let others know of. So, they also display the following behaviors:
A codependent has trouble accepting some truths such as
- his/her true feelings
- the fact that he/she lacks compassion for others (he/she sees himself/herself as totally giving and dedicated to others’ welfare)
- negative characteristics he/she has (accuses others of having those negative characteristics instead)
- he/she needs others’ help to take care of himself/herself
- can mask pain through humor, isolation or anger
- cannot understand that sometimes the people they are codependent on have other things to do other than be there for him/her
A codependent individual has an invisible wall around them that can be seen through their
- · inability to get really close to others emotionally, physically, or sexually (sometimes they draw people towards them but backs away at the last minute)
- · avoidance conflict and confrontation to the point that he/she will communicate indirectly and evasively
- · inability to display emotion (including expressions of appreciation) because it makes them feel defenseless
To prevent others from seeing their severely low self-worth, copendents
- · believe that others cannot take care of themselves and that he/she has to step in do that
- · need to feel important and give out unsolicited advice to the point of telling others how they should feel or think
- · emotionally exploit others by shaming and blaming them
- · use the appearance of helplessness, apathy, authority or rage to influence results
On the other hand, sometimes, codependent individuals show their exceptionally low self-esteem directly through compliance:
- · compromising his/her values or welfare to prevent rejection or anger from others
- · being overly sympathetic
- · extremely loyal to the point of destruction
- · believing that others’ opinions matter more than their own and fear expressing opinions that differ from others’
- · accepting sexual attention for love
Due to the characteristics of a codependent individual, they can easily attract aggressive individuals who would further abuse them. Unattended, codependency can lead to or aggravate substance or sex addiction, eating disorders, and other disparaging behaviors.
Most often, codependents stay in stressful jobs, because of they enjoy the feeling of being needed. Even so, they are less likely to get promoted or earn less than those who do not have this behavior.
Recovery from codependency symptoms and behavior is achieved by having a series of psychotherapy which may come hand in hand with chemical therapy for depression and panic disorders.
In a way, after reading the codependency symptoms above, one may think he/she is suffering from the condition. Do remember that these are still normal behaviors but only if it is up to a certain extent. If one notices his/her partner exhibiting the same behaviors but to a greater degree that what we normally see in people, he/she should intervene and ask for assistance immediately.
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