Understanding the Concept of Codependency

A while back someone asked me if I had checked out the movie Twilight. I did, and I had read the books too, mostly because I was trying to bond with my little sister. They asked me what I thought of it, I didn’t really have an opinion so I said it was ok. It was a very typical “you complete me” “I would die without your love” fantasy that sells. I didn’t think too much more about it after that. The other night I was asked about the movie again in which I responded, “it was a guilty pleasure”; it caught my attention because in a traditional line of thinking, the story stirs up an old desire to be protected and taken care of, rescued (mostly from self), and completely secure in the fact that someone only has eyes for you. Oh, what a dream. Mainly, I liked to make fun of it. I said, if there was a popular book about the ultimate form of codependency that was it. The line that slammed my point home the most was, “You’re my personal brand of heroine”. There you have it; that is codependency with a special blend of love addiction at your service.

I’m not trying to pick on Twilight, trust me, there are plenty of examples to draw from, I thought I would just use this particular story. Wait now, so, what is codependency? Love addiction? Well, Wikipedia breaks it down for you if you’re unfamiliar with the term.  I have also read that one is a codependent if any person, place, or thing that person is dependent on creates unmanageability or insanity in their life. I realized that whenever I bring up the term codependency, I usually get a blank stare, or I get a reaction that goes somewhere along the lines of “Well if that’s the case, everyone is codependent then, so what!” To a certain extent I agree, many people probably have codependent tendencies (we’re only human after all). One of my most recent comments when I said I felt no need to chase someone down in hopes of love, “lonely forever then”. In response to that I say, being single and loneliness are not synonymous with each other. Yet, somehow we have gotten things so twisted.

After observing behavioral patterns of various people from different backgrounds, growing through my own struggles, and trying to wrap my brain around what it truly means to be healthy in every sense of the word; I wondered, is society so full of unhappy, unhealthy people, that people in recovery, or who attempt to be more than their circumstances, or let’s even go with women who have the nerve to be perfectly fine with being single get demonized, maybe even ostracized?  


9 thoughts on “Understanding the Concept of Codependency

  1. The discrimination against people who are single is titled Singlism. And I think it’s pretty pervasive, more so for women than for men perhaps. People who choose to be single – whether permanently or for long periods of time – tend to be viewed differently. I mean, think of all the adages for single women: cat ladies, spinsters. Not so much for men – in fact, the life of a single guy is really highlighted: bachelor pads, man caves; places for men “to be men”. And it’s so weird that men are encouraged to be single, and women are encouraged to date – if straight men don’t want to date, then who are all the straight women dating!? Ah – irrational standards are irrational for a reason.

    Codependency is really interesting I think – according to this Wikipedia article. In this way, many people who lack self-esteem would be categorized as codependent – since all the symptoms listed are results of low/no self-esteem. I think codependency is really just placing your trust into another person versus yourself, and rejecting your own ideas and thoughts in exchange for theirs.

    Self-esteem is really important to have faith in your own decisions and to also have your own boundaries in your relationships with others.
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    • Tatiana you’ve made some excellent points. “If straight men don’t want to date, then who are all the straight women dating” my my my look at the time. It’s time for society to start answering some tough questions about double standards. You are correct about codependency forming from lack of self-esteem although I would take it another step further and say not knowing your worth. Codependency shapes itself around anything that becomes your norm including a job, a companion, and religion too! What I found most interesting about the concept is that the dysfunctional behaviors taught by our foundational support system from childhood to adolescence, shapes an adults codependent nature. So, you can become codependent because you seek what you didn’t receive in childhood. Boy, can you name one perfect family? Some people can work through their problems while others form self-destructive habits and addictions. Ultimately, I think it is a term to help classify the many reasons behind why people develop a addictions. People feel better when they have a name to something they do not understand and feel they cannot control.

  2. The thing that bothers me most about “Twilight love” is the gross misrepresentation of what it means to be in a relationship/married. Movies like this set up the most unattainable and impossible standards for both men and women: that there is “one true love” out there for you; that “true love” means never having eyes for another human being; that the romance and passion is always there and just falls into place; Being a married woman myself and having “played the field” plenty when I was younger, I get frusrated that our concept of “love” is based on things like that. To be honest, the relationships I had where the passion/romance and “I can’t live without you” feeling were the most tumultuous and insane relationships I had. I’d like to see a sequel to Twilight when Bella and Edward have to juggle a morgrage, bills and daycare, when they can’t have a conversation because their human/vampire babies are screaming and tearing the house part…..and after Bella has stayed home all day with the human/vampire babies, cleaned their house, made dinner and payed the bills…..has to deal with Edward wanting her to suddenly become a sex kitten at 10:00 at night.

    THAT is why she should have stuck with JACOB!!!!!
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    • Mia, you had me in tears from laughing so hard! I do understand being too tired to think straight, trust! You really hit up some good points about the problems with real relationships and what is portrayed in the media. I wonder how many marriages could have been saved if we didn’t honestly believe that this stuff was romantic, better yet that this is the way it is supposed to be and anything less means tragedies like divorce. If we truly understood what commitment meant ie staying together even when you can’t stand each other anymore (and it will happen), seeking help in areas of weakness to overcome slumps, having some sort of idea that your partner is at least willing to grow with you through your changes etc. I wonder if people so starved for real love would really run into serious relationships and marriage? Btw I’m coming from the perspective of someone who learned this the hard way. Oh and yes, I’m team Jacob too (shhh don’t tell anyone).

  3. Lynn, thank you for sharing your thoughts on “codependency.” Please allow me to share the lyrics I wrote for a song I published, years ago. I think they might apply to your latest article and our personal needs to depend on one another:

    I’ve come to realize
    a long time ago,
    things don’t always happen
    and friends don’t always show.
    Birthdays aren’t forever,
    nothing stays the same,
    good times can get better
    and you can always change your name.

    So, if you’re feeling lonely,
    if you’re felling blue,
    nothing lasts forever,
    there’s peace in solitude…

    People won’t invite you
    the phone won’t always ring,
    family might write you,
    and losers sometime win,
    husbands aren’t too honest
    and wives aren’t (just the same…)
    rules aren’t always followed
    and it doesn’t always rain.

    So, if you’re feeling lonely,
    if you’re felling blue,
    nothing lasts forever,
    there’s peace in solitude…
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    • I love your lyrics George! Thank you for sharing. That was perfect for this post, I’m a little jealous that I didn’t write it myself 🙂 You’re so right, there’s nothing like solitude sometimes and being okay with it. Sure, it’s nice to have friends and go out and have a good time, but I don’t think it’s a good thing when you can’t sit still and get inside your own thoughts from time to time. Some of our deepest fears are locked within our subconscious, how are we to conquer them if we’re constantly surrounded with distractions-whatever those distractions may be.

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