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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 August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

Reference

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