Monday, March 9, 2009

Codependence and Your Relationship

The term "codependent" is frequently used to describe the character traits and common behavior patterns of people who are closely involved with addicts. These character traits can often be found in individuals who choose to stay in other types of relationships where the dynamic is unbalanced and unhealthy, such as a relationship where one partner abuses the other. These tendencies and traits can become a problem if the victimized or traumatized partner exhibits too much tolerance, doesn't set appropriate boundaries, and then perpetuates the cycle. When the involved parties remain in the status quo, there is little motivation for anyone to change. Here are 4 signs you might have codependent tendencies in your relationship:

1. You tend to minimize or rationalize the destructive things your partner does. You might find yourself thinking that there are much worse situations and behaviors out there. You might be right, but it is a bit like comparing natural disasters ? a tornado may cause more damage than a flood, but neither situation is desirable. Just because somebody else has it worse, doesn't mean that the behavior you are tolerating is acceptable.

2. You try to hide your partner's bad behaviors from others, or make excuses for it. You might feel a sense of responsibility for your partner's reputation and feel driven to protect it. You might also feel ashamed of others knowing what you tolerate in your relationship, and prefer to avoid any kind of judgment. Your excuse-making may extend to also taking responsibility and attempting to cover your partner's commitments for him or her. Unfortunately, not allowing your partner to experience consequences only cements the concept that he or she can treat you as they please and be irresponsible, and nothing bad will result. In the meantime you feel stressed and frustrated, and become increasingly preoccupied with controlling your partner's harmful behavior and neglecting your own needs.

3. You feel as if you could not survive without this relationship, this partner, no matter how bad it gets. Perhaps you express frustration, and even set ultimatums ? but chances are you tend to back down if it appears that the relationship is truly being threatened or ending. Somehow, something feels better than nothing, and you might even drop an argument entirely in order to avoid rocking the boat.

4. You worry that something bad might happen to your partner if you leave and are not there to make sure he or she is okay. You feel guilty and responsible at the thought that your partner might self destruct without you there to rescue him or her. It is more comfortable for you to stay in a relationship where you are the giver and the caretaker, then to pursue a relationship that is equal give and take.

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