Codependent relationships are a form of dysfunctional relationship where one person supports (through compulsive care-taking) or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, procrastination, irresponsibility, immaturity or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity (owning to chronic low self-esteem and a lack of self-identity). Codependents often feel painful emotions, such as; shame, anxiety, a fear of being judged, a fear of being abandoned, a fear of making mistakes, a fear of being a failure, feeling trapped, a fear of being alone, feeling angry and resentful, and feelings of hopelessness or despair.
Some questions to consider when assessing the presence of codependency are:
- Do you feel that you are not good enough and compare yourself to other people?
- Do you find it difficult to say 'no' to other people?
- Do you go out of your way to sacrifice your own needs to accommodate other people (otherwise known as 'people pleasing')?
- Do you feel responsible for other people's feelings and problems?
- Do you 'care-take' other people by putting their needs ahead of your own?
- Do you keep trying to 'fix' other people?
- Do you have to control other people around you to feel okay?
- Do you have trouble communicating your thoughts, feelings and needs?
- Do you obsess about other people or relationships?
- Do you find it difficult to end a relationship even if it is painful or abusive?
- Do you have an overwhelming need for acceptance and approval from others?
- Do you fear you'll be judged or abandoned in a relationship?
- Do you reject compliments or praise?