What is co-dependency in a romantic relationship?

The term co-dependency is colloquially used as a synonym for mutual emotional dependency, for example when you feel a strong emotional bond with one another, which at the same time has something constricting, and despite the desire for more autonomy or separation, you are unable to break away from the other because the fear or sense of obligation is too deep. The term co-dependency also describes a relationship in which one of the partners is addicted and the other partner covers up this addiction through their behavior and helps to maintain it.  

What does co-dependency feel like?

Some typical signs of co-dependency are: to put your own activities aside in favor of spending time together, even when you actually feel like doing something else.

To be quickly unsure and concerned whether your partner agrees with what you say, how you are, what you do.

To be afraid that your partner will get angry or disappointed if you want to be alone.

To feel insecure when you deviate from your partner's opinion or preferences, and always trying to show that you see things the same way.

Seeing the potential for separation instead of fruitful conflict when it comes to different opinions about a subject.

To be uncomfortable with the relationship, but you just can't see yourself ending it.

To think your partner is your family and your only support in life and therefore it is unimaginable that you will ever end the relationship.

To look for the causes of your discomfort in yourself first, but avoid realizing that you're uncomfortable because you don't feel free and became dependent.

How does codependency arise?

Co-dependency often becomes noticeable after a while, but it can also set in right at the start of a new relationship. We often start the new encounter with a good and strong feeling. We may even decide to give ourselves time and not give up our autonomy. But then we get used to the pleasant aspects of the relationship and no longer want to do without the certainty that there is someone who belongs to us. The need for security and attachment is not in itself pathological, since it is a basic human need. Sometimes, however, we develop the feeling that we need the other person more and more in order to feel comfortable at all, or that we need them in order not to be afraid, or that we are afraid to be abandoned and to be alone again. The feeling of helplessness then prevails and the feeling that we can no longer imagine life without the other person. This can even be the case when we are not particularly enjoying the relationship and are actually aware of what we are missing. It often looks to the outside as if one partner is dependent and the other is not, but it does stabilize the more independent partner to feel needed and loved by the dependent partner.

What are the causes of Co-dependency?

Co-dependency has many causes. Often, however, a person who feels emotionally dependent has had a childhood and/or adolescence marked by unstable attachments. Sometimes abandonment trauma can also be part of the cause, i.e. one or more situations in which we as a child or teenager felt lonely and helpless because our caregiver was unavailable. The longing for a stable, secure bond then becomes so strong that we look for the fulfillment of the bond we so painfully missed in a love relationship and believe that we need this relationship essentially to live, just as we needed our caregiver back then when we were little or helpless.

How can I stop Co-dependency?