Saturday, October 22, 2011

Codependency: The Addiction of Love

If you feel you spend too much effort looking out for your partner's needs rather than your own, and are unfulfilled as a result, you may be suffering from love addiction, otherwise known as codependency. The side effects of these one-sided relationships can be extremely destructive. In essence, codependency is a mechanism employed to avoid emotional suffering. It is habitual behavior which has been learned in order to escape pain, although many times the perceived source of this pain is unfounded. If your current relationship is questionable, think about your ability to resolve conflict, and whether it feels like a constant uphill battle. Do you feel as though you are the only one in the relationship who willingly tries to make amends? Do you feel as though your relationship is built on emotional conflict? If so, you could be in a codependent relationship.
Codependency can affect many types of relationships, whether romantic, friendships, or even family relationships, and at its root is a relationship addiction. You may be undermining your relationship if you use assertiveness to overcome issues to the detriment of your partner. In such cases, you may feel you are simply trying to assist your partner, while you are actually causing damage to the relationship. In such cases it is necessary to determine whether your behavior is driven by love or a need to take control and put others before yourself. It takes a great deal of inner strength to sincerely diagnose your propensity for love addiction.
If you feel you may have a codependent personality, consider whether:
• It is hard for you to say "No"
• You sometimes believe you care more than your partner about your relationship
• You waste too much time caring for your partner, and not enough for yourself
• You feel worthless and blameworthy if you can't help your partner
• You give up your own needs so your partner can accomplish theirs
• You feel as though your self-esteem is constantly decreasing
If you are concerned that this addiction to love may describe you, think about how closely you measure your own self-esteem to your partners' opinion of you, and whether or not you hide your troubled feelings under a façade of indifference. Thinking back to your past relationships you may recognize a pattern of hiding your own negative feelings for the "benefit" of your relationship.
Guilt and confusion often accompany this state of mind, and becoming involved in toxic relationships only worsens these negative emotions. Therefore, if you believe your relationship has become toxic, begin to acknowledge that you are not to blame, and take comfort in the realization that you can take steps to make it better. It is extremely important to note that although these types of relationships are very common, it takes great strength and courage to acknowledge that you may be drawn to certain types of people, and these people may be dangerous for you. Therefore, if you want a real shot at breaking your love addiction, you must proactively stop your cycle of negative thoughts and consequent behaviors. In fact, it may be worth considering whether you need the help of a professional counselor.
Recovering from love addiction takes time, but is the speed of your recovery correlates directly to the effort you put into it. The single most important factor in your codependency recovery is your will to do it. It is imperative to take a personal inventory of your emotions, and recognize that the harmful relationship is not your fault. Once you can understand the logic behind your way of thinking, you can develop healthier relational patterns, and seek more emotionally balanced relationships.

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