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Why Codependents Always Fall For The Wrong People

Why Codependents Always Fall For The Wrong People

In a healthy relationship, two adults come together to build something better. To explore together. To grow, create a family, and enjoy life. But not when someone in the relationship is codependent.

How do you know if you are codependent and what exactly is codependency?

You can go through a detailed questionnaire published by Mental Health America to identify signs of codependency here. But, here are a few quick questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I find that I am sacrificing a lot in my relationships, but feel I am getting little in return?

  • Do I go out of my way to change my schedule and day for my partner and for others?

  • Do I feel that if my partner isn’t happy that I can’t be happy? Do I get nervous if people are upset with me?

  • Do I try to “save” my partner, from lots of their mental issues and troubles?

If you answered yes to these questions and those in the questionnaire, you might be a codependent in a relationship. But don’t worry: you can change and in this article, you’ll learn why you might be picking the wrong partners for you, and whom you should go for instead. Codependents always end up miserable or in bad relationships, picking the wrong partners because…

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1. They try to re-create familiar dysfunctional family patterns throughout their entire lives, creating miserable relationships.

Codependency starts when you are a child. Some family member who had mental, physical, or addiction issues was covered up. Everyone rallied behind to support this family member. While this can sometimes be good for something like a chronic pain injury, it can also be done for negative issues like alcoholism, to cover up possible embarrassment from the outside world. This hiding only fuels the person further to do their negative behavior if no intervention happens – the family is enabling them to keep on their destructive path while believing they might be “helping or saving them from themselves”.

Codependents, seeing this, learned that this pattern should be replicated in their own intimate and close relationships, and that hiding something is okay.

2. They want to play the savior, it makes them feel good.

Codependents seek out partners whom they can save and get drowned in taking care of their partners while never being taken care of themselves. Like a pair of dysfunctional puzzle pieces perfectly fitting together floating across a sea of misery, codependents attract those who desire caregivers and enablers (vampires). Through childhood, codependents believe that intimacy is formed by taking care of “damaged” people and accepting them. So, if they meet a partner who is reasonably emotionally healthy, they won’t feel the same pull, because they are used to the drama brought on by vampires (how bad is that?).

Without the drama, they don’t feel alive or the attraction hormones they’re used to.

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For example, a woman might be attracted to the drug user and think she can save or change him when he comes crying to her, and she says “It’s okay”. But then, he does it again. The woman then complains about always attracting the wrong guys, but will continue the cycle forever unless she realizes the one commonality in all of her relationships that needs to be fixed: Her.

3. They believe that withholding their own needs and emotions will bring them love and affection.

As they were never the center of care or attention, and someone else’s needs were always more important, codependents usually squash down their own needs for love, affection, support, and intimacy to help the vampire out. They believe that as long as the vampire is happy, then they and the relationship are good. Even though deep down they feel a sense of imbalance, like the relationship is hardly 50-50 at all, they saw growing up that giving the vampire all of their care and support was necessary.

In time though, the codependent feels unheard, ashamed, stressed, and alone in the relationship and. They feel fatigued and taxed, instead of energized by spending time with their partner. They never learned how to communicate what they wanted and how they felt in a relationship, and so, they decide to never express their deepest, or even surface level desires of getting a back rub.

Two people aren’t creating something bigger together here. The codependent is only making the vampire worse.

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4. They define and establish their own sense of self-worth from compliments.

Because codependents saw growing up that a vampire was the center of care, they strongly associated their self-worth with how they took care of that person. They connect a vampire telling them that they are doing a good job taking care, or others appreciating them, as being good. Their own opinion of themselves matters far less.

So instead of being able to define their own sense of self-worth from what they do and how they act, they must draw it from what they do for others. This is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of giving service, but the codependent will believe much more strongly in others’ opinions of themselves rather than what they believe. They are strongly affected by criticism, and they are sensitive and even needy when it comes to receiving compliments and re-enforcement. This can actually drive healthy people away, who don’t understand why the codependent seeks so much approval or requires so much attention.

5. They believe they need a relationship to feel useful and good.

Codependents draw a great deal of self-esteem and self-respect from taking care of vampires. In this sense if they don’t have a vampire relationship, they don’t feel good. They have problems being single, alone, and happy, and as such, would rather take a crappier relationship or stay in one rather than feeling useless, or abandoned and left alone.

While codependents don’t have the easiest time in life, they can begin to change their beliefs and heal to find healthier partners. You attract what you put out and what you are looking for, and if you are always looking to re-create the dysfunctional relationships of the past that’s all you’re going to find.

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Going to therapy and fining resources on healthy relationships can help codependents heal, so that they can approach dating and relationships from a much more healthy and guided view. They will learn that two people can take care of themselves, but also for each other.

Featured photo credit: Nattu via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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