Codependency is a term that describes an unhealthy or unbalanced relationship where one person’s needs are met while the others aren’t. Codependent people are said to “enable” the bad behavior of a loved one by supporting them, no matter if it negatively affects their own well-being.
As an example, a parent may have a hard time setting healthy boundaries by telling their grown addict son or daughter their behavior is unwelcomed and they must move out. This is a bit of a lose/lose scenario because enabling this bad behavior stalls recovery and only perpetuates the problem. In addition, the codependent parent puts themselves in harm’s way, mentally, emotionally, and perhaps even physically.
Codependency in romantic relationships may look like fear of abandonment, difficulty identifying feelings and expressing them, feeling overly responsible for their partners actions, a tendency to do more than their share a lot of the time, unhealthy dependence on their partner, an extreme need for approval and recognition, guilt when asserting themselves, need to control others, difficulty making decisions, lack of trust and so on.
Codependency often stems from an individual’s low self-esteem, excessive need to please, and an inability to set boundaries. Codependent people feel responsible for others’ problems and will take them on, despite the personal toll it may cost them.