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2012 Issue 3

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Are you in a Codependent Relationship? Codependency is a dynamic where one or both persons in the relationship feel an excessive and unhealthy responsibility for the other person's life.

Identify codependence

Individuals with codependent tendencies tend to place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. If you are wondering if you are in a codependent relationship, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel you’re responsible for the happiness of others?
  • Do your needs always take a backseat to the needs of other people in your life?
  • Do you not do what you really want to do in order to accommodate someone else?
  • Do you think that it’s your job to make someone else’s life better or easier?

Unintentional consequences

We often do things a certain way because that’s the way we’ve always done them. Unfortunately, when we do this we tend to stop seeing our motives and intentions. We also don’t perceive how these patterns of behavior may no longer serve our needs.

People in co-dependent relationships often don’t realize that their relationships are not functioning in a healthy way. They’re not aware that they are losing themselves—and sometimes their identity— in the relationship.

Breaking the Pattern

The important thing to remember is that co-dependency is a learned behavior and that it takes some new strategies to help you “unlearn” it. The good news is that you are not alone and help is available.

What to do if you feel you are in a co-dependent relationship:

  • See a counselor, like those available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at your job.
  • Attend CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) meetings—you’ll meet other people dealing with similar issues. (You can find information on CoDA on the Web.)

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

  • Your focus is on someone else’s happiness over your own
  • You’re worried that some small thing you do may make you lose the love or respect of someone close to you
  • You no longer socialize with your friends and your family like you used to
  • Thinking about your relationship makes you feel depressed or anxious
  • You have strong feelings that you are being pressured or controlled by someone in your life
  • Someone is using harsh words to hurt or control you
  • Someone is using physical violence or force to hurt or control you

What to do

If you are experiencing an unhealthy relationship, of if someone you know is living with physical or verbal abuse or in an overly controlling environment, help is available. Contact the EAP to learn more.