What Causes Codependency?

what causes codependency

Healthy relationships involve a balance of give and take, but codependency involves a lopsided dynamic where one person looks after the other’s needs to the point of ignoring self-care and personal fulfillment. While it’s natural to want to pamper the people you love, codependency will eventually detract from your and your partner’s mental well-being.

This post will explore the underlying causes of codependency, warning signs of this relationship issue and tips for breaking the cycle.

Why Am I Codependent?

Codependency is a typical response to adverse childhood experiences. For example, children who grow up in households marked by neglect, abuse or addiction can start assuming adult responsibilities at an early age. While this learned coping mechanism can help you survive a traumatic childhood, it also builds a foundation for codependency as an adult.

Overprotectiveness is another dysfunctional parenting style that breeds codependency. “Lawnmower parenting” happens when adults work to clear all possible obstacles from a child’s path.

In shielding children from negative consequences, these adults also take away the possible learning opportunities that come from them. Additionally, these parents tend to become emotionally enmeshed in a way that makes children feel guilty about having other relationships or setting boundaries that establish their independence.

Codependent Characteristics

If you grew up with under- or overprotective parents and are wondering whether you could be codependent, here are some warning signs to look for.

  • You have built your identity around being a people-pleaser.
  • You experience separation anxiety when you’re alone.
  • You struggle to speak up for yourself and be assertive about expressing your needs.
  • You’ve planned your life around activities that make your partner happy.
  • You don’t trust yourself to make wise decisions, and as a result, you often second-guess yourself and seek external reassurance.

Can You Break the Codependent Cycle?

Codependency is something you learned, which means you can also unlearn it. It’s possible to create a healthy balance and forge a mutually beneficial relationship with your partner. The first step is to forgive yourself. You developed these coping skills when you were young, and they helped you manage the challenges of your childhood.

Be honest with yourself about the root causes of codependency. To heal, you need to address the unmet needs you had as a child that the adults in your life failed to address. Next, look at your present fears. Can you identify any weaknesses in your relationship? For example, if you dislike being alone, introduce some “me time” into your schedule. You could start a hobby that you know your partner isn’t especially interested in, such as joining a recreational sports team. That way, you have something that belongs to you and you alone.

Are You Struggling to Be Healthy and Happy?

Codependency is a classic characteristic of relationships affected by addiction, but you can overcome your problems and lead a healthier life. At New Found Life, our team has been providing accredited addiction and mental health treatment in Long Beach since 1993. Let us equip you with the tools you need to break the cycle and achieve sobriety. Start your journey by requesting help today.