When you suspect that you or someone you know may suffer from co-dependence, you may start wondering where these traits originated. Why do some people become co-dependant and others do not? And is there any definitive answer about what causes it?
A Psychological Definition of Co-dependence
Assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, Jonathan Becker said:
“Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore. Your mood, happiness and identity are defined by the other person. In a codependent relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive and can’t make decisions for themselves, and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.” 
Codependency Always Come from Childhood
Everyone’s journey to becoming co-dependent may begin in different ways, but most often it stems from childhood. It is identified in the upbringing along with the parent’s inability to provide a stable and secure environment.
In these situations, the following things could occur :
The child has to be the caretaker
When parents are not able to take on their parenting duties, the role falls on the child. In these cases, the child may be responsible for cleaning, cooking, looking after their younger siblings and also keeping an eye on the parents.
The child is taught to be a people-pleaser
Because of the environment described above, the child has to balance keeping everyone happy.
The child needs to take up so much responsibility
Part of the childhood becomes lost because their mature responsibilities far outweigh their age.
The child learns that people who love them can also hurt them
This is particularly common in families with emotional or physical abuse. The child knows they can be let down by those close to them.
The child is often scared
The childhood environment was scary in many ways. There was no solid stability and each day could be quite different. Some days the child may have been upset, worried, stressed or even cried. As an adult, this can lead to anxiety or the fear of being alone.
The child develops low self-esteem
They are often exposed to circumstances where they do not feel worthy and feel that something is wrong with them .
Common Personality Traits You May Discover in Co-dependent People
- Easily Feel Undervalued: Despite the enormous effort to go out of their way to help the other person, they regularly feel undervalued.
- Tend to Please: Attempting to please people with the hope that it will help in gaining approval or love.
- Easily Feel Self-Blame: Feeling responsibility for the behavior of others, and as a result, they often blame themselves for other people’s bad behavior or simply make excuses for the person.
- Fear of Loneliness: An innate fear of being alone, rejected or unloved.
- Be Overly Responsible: Feeling responsible for fixing other people’s problems.
- Inability to walk away from unhealthy relationships because they are unable to let go, despite that person not being a positive figure in their life.
- Devalue the Self-Value: Other people’s needs often come before their own.
- Difficult in Self-Expression: Difficulty in communicating as freely as they would like or in making decisions in a relationship.
- Low self-esteem and abandonment issues.
- Crave for Others’ Approval: Valuing validation and approval from others more than their own .
Some Questions to Help You Check If You Are Co-dependent
- Are you scared to stand up for yourself if you are receiving physical or emotional abuse?
- Do you do take on more than your own share of work at home or at work?
- Are you reliant on others to feel good about yourself?
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- Do you regularly put the needs of others before your own?
- Do you feel responsible when other people do wrong things?
If you were affected by this article, be sure to read my other article about steps you can take to change this pattern.
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com
|Everyday Health: Do You Have a Codependent Personality?
|Psych Central: What Causes Codependency?
|PsychCentral: What Causes Codependency?
|Recovery Connection: Top Ten Indicators that You Suffer from Codependency