What Does This Mean?
A definition of the above headings is:
- “Co-dependency 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.”
Co-dependency is sometimes a difficult concept for families to understand.
Co-dependents or compulsive helpers have a tendency to do everything for the person they are looking after rather than letting that person take responsibility for their own decisions and ultimately their own lives. Co-dependents can also develop a need to help others which can itself grow into being somewhat addictive. Instead of balancing looking after other members of their family and themselves they spend most of their time helping others sometimes at a cost to themselves. The family unit is one in which it is normal for family members to help each other and to express empathy, patience and unconditional love when a family member is struggling. It is when the boundaries between normal helping and compulsive helping become blurred that it can become problematic.
As someone who has had personal experience of a co-dependent relationship with their daughter I understand very well how this can happen. By learning how to turn it into a more balanced and age appropriate relationship it meant, for us, the start of my daughter’s recovery.
The reasons for compulsive helping/co-dependent behaviour are not always straightforward and can for some people stem from their childhood. To help families understand more about the subject I run workshops on the topic for them and I also do training for professionals on the same subject.