Signs of Codependency

Written by Lise Colucci

Are you wondering if you might have codependent tendencies? Are you constantly doing for others and have no time or energy for yourself? Are you the only one that makes sacrifices in your relationships? 

 One thing to remember is C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse syndrome can look like what people call codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is enabling behavior of one person towards another person’s addiction, abusive/poor mental health, lack of accountability and immaturity. The traits of codependency show extreme reliance on other people for approval and sense of self-worth. Codependent people rely on others for emotional needs in excess as well. Usually the person with codependent tendencies spends so much of their life doing for others and trying to meet the needs of others they can not see that they are not meeting their own emotional needs for themselves. 

Some signs of codependency:

  • Low self-esteem. This seems to be the main trait that both creates codependent traits as well as solidifies the need for those traits within a relationship.  Having a lack of trust in yourself can also be a part of low self-esteem.
  • Poor or no boundaries. The invisible line between yourself and others. This can be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual or any other way in which you interact with others. Even taking the emotional responsibility for others as can happen in a relationship with a narcissist is lacking boundaries. 
  • People-pleasing as well as feeling used and under-appreciated. Likely if you are constantly people pleasing it is true that you are not being appreciated for all you are doing. This can look like ‘keeping the peace” or making sure no one is upset in a situation. It usually creates a feeling of fear of others not liking you or being displeased if you do not do the people-pleasing behaviors. 
  • Caretaking, feeling compelled to caretake others. This can look like anything from physically caretaking to time managing others’ lives or offering unasked for advice to situations often.
  • Dependency and the need for others to like you in order to feel okay about yourself. Feeling like you can’t function on your own and fearing abandonment and rejection because of that fear.
  • Denial. Denying the abuses of others or downplaying abuse can be one form of denial. Another codependent denial is the denial of any of the traits listed being an issue. Because the focus of codependent people is on the needs of others they can deny their own needs as well as deny the problem of not knowing their own needs, 
  • Difficulty saying no. This is a form of lack of boundaries but difficulty saying “no” deserves its own mention. With the difficulty, there is also a feeling of fear of rejection. Fearing the reaction of others if “no ” is said fills codependent people with anxiety. 
  • Fixating on mistakes (perfectionism). Feeling like if you make a mistake you are bad, wrong, unlovable. 
  • Trouble honestly communicating needs. Difficulty identifying feelings and needs and fear of rejection or devaluing if any needs are expressed. 
  • Feeling the need to be liked by everyone/fear of displeasing others
  • The constant need for being in a  relationship. It can feel very uncomfortable for people with codependent traits to be alone. Because of the lack of knowing their own needs and lack of self-care skills anxiety can become overwhelming when not in a relationship. This is one reason most people suggest waiting a year after narcissistic abuse, take the time to get to know your needs as well as how to meet and nurture them.
  • Intimacy issues. Feeling judged, rejected, abandoned, as well as difficulty knowing one’s own needs can leave it difficult for people with codependent traits to struggle with vulnerability and emotional intimacy. 
  • Fear of abandonment. The thought of being left creates extreme anxiety. 
  • Emotional reactivity, taking things personally. Because of the constant caregiving and need meeting through people-pleasing of others, codependent thinking can make you hyper-reactive to everyone else’s thoughts or feelings and how they are expressed. 
  • Need to control, expecting others to do what you suggest or say. Control feels safe. It is the main way a person with codependent traits feels like safety in a relationship.  Even things like people-pleasing and caregiving can be forms of control. 

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