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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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