What Is Meant By Codependent Behavior?
On the surface, codependent behavior does not seem such a bad thing, and indeed in some cases can appear to be a good thing, as it involves placing the interests of someone else above one's own. This is often the case among family members or people in love, and will usually result in no harm done as long as the other person reciprocates.
What Codependency Really Is – However, codependent behavior is most often not a good thing, and those who suffer most from its effects are usually those who are married to or have a close relationship with someone who has significant problems, such as a drug addict or an alcoholic. In attempting to coexist with such a person, the person who has become codependent can lose their own identity, and become neglectful of their own needs and feelings. One in a sense gives their life over to the other person, who often gives nothing in return.
When you are codependent you may initially at least feel you're doing the right thing, that you are trying your very best to alter the other person's behavior by constantly trying to please him or her to the extent of trying to change yourself into a more perfect person.
Slowly Losing The Battle - When married to an alcoholic, it's easy to try to put up with the person's addiction, in the hope that as all too often promised, that person will stop drinking next Monday, a Monday which, unless there is intervention, may never come. By attempting to reason with the person and placing yourself in a position to be pleasing and not to be antagonizing, you feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel, when in effect as time progresses you are being more and more controlled by that person's behavior.
Dysfunctional Behavior - Although it was stated initially in this article that codependency isn't always a bad thing, by today's definition codependency is considered to be dysfunctional behavior, and the act of simply giving yourself to another person and being a selfless individual in that respect, deserves another term, that term probably being selflessness. Selflessness in itself is not dysfunctional behavior.
Codependency is a form of compulsive behavior, behavioral patterns designed to survive in a dysfunctional relationship. The codependent person tries harder and harder to act in a manner which in the final analysis accomplishes little that is positive and often much that is negative. Furthermore, a person who exhibits codependent behavior will often seem to go out of their way to try and help anyone they encounter who exhibits dysfunctional tendencies, as if the person fashioned themselves as a sort of Mother Teresa. On the other hand, that same person often will have trouble establishing a strong relationship with the person who is perfectly healthy.
The Need To Treat Codependent Behavior - The bottom line is that a person who exhibits codependent behavior is not only a victim of sorts but very often is in need of treatment. When it comes to treatment of dysfunctional behavior, the focus is usually on the addict or alcoholic the codependent person is trying to live with or help, and it isn't always recognized that the codependent person needs treatment as well in order to break the cycle. Codependent behavior is not usually recognized as a mental disorder, if only because the person affected by it appears normal in most respects. That person often needs help however. Even if the original source of the problem, the alcoholic or addict, is successfully treated, there is still one more person who is not necessarily capable of living a happy and normal life without treatment, the codependent person.