Though the term “codependency” is a common one, it is not fully understood by everyone. When someone responds or acts in certain ways to a partner, family member, or friend and aides in their addiction, this is codependent behavior. The addiction may be to alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling, sex, or to virtually any other physical, mental, or emotional behavior that is destructive.

As a therapist in Chevy Chase, MD like Lindsey Hoskins & Associates can explain, codependent behavior is often destructive to both parties. In fact, the person who is not the one with an addiction may over time develop the same addiction as the other individual. Habits and interactions may become automatic despite their negativity. The cycle can be broken, however, and seeking counseling from a therapist is an effective approach that has worked for many people.

Typical Codependent Behaviors

People who are codependent on other persons typically exhibit certain behaviors. During counseling, your therapist may bring up the term “maladaptive.” This describes an approach that is often used by persons who think or act in ways that create emotional issues or else prevent them from adapting to difficult situations and subsequently thriving.

Codependent persons may become maladaptive which results in them avoiding certain situations because those situations make them feel afraid or uncomfortable. For example, if a partner is an alcoholic and gets angry when they run out of alcohol, the other partner may purchase them alcohol in order to avoid an escalation of their anger. This is codependent behavior. It is also maladaptive behavior because the non-alcoholic partner takes the approach of changing the partner’s behavior rather than dealing with the anger.

In working with a therapist, the individual can learn affective and safe options for changing their circumstances for the better. Every situation is different, and in dealing with someone who has addiction issues, there may be safety considerations with which the therapist can offer resources and solutions.

If you are unsure of whether or not you are engaging in a codependent relationship, here are some of the most common symptoms of codependency:

  • You are a people pleaser and are not especially assertive. This may make it difficult to impossible for you to say no. Instead, you may go along with developing situations or behavior instead of objecting and/or walking away.
  • You are afraid to upset someone by being honest about how you feel, and so you are untruthful or vague about your thoughts or reactions to them or to their behavior.
  • In avoiding the truth about how you really feel about the other person’s addiction and negative behavior, you are unable to fully trust them or feel safe when physically or emotionally intimate with them.
  •  You experience feelings of low self-esteem which results in not feeling adequate or worthy of healthy expressions of love or a healthy relationship. As a result, you may be vulnerable to being controlled by the other individual.
  • Due to feeling inadequate or unable to control the behavior of the other individual, you indulge in controlling behaviors of your own. You may attempt to control the behavior of those around you, or of yourself by being a perfectionist or exhibiting hyper cleanliness of your environment.

If you would like to talk to a therapist about a codependent situation in your life, or about other issues, don’t hesitate. Reach out to a qualified therapist today.