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Exploring What Causes Codependency: Is it Time to Ask if You're Codependent?

Codependency is a complex issue that affects many people in different ways, yet it isn't always easy to recognize. The term "codependency" refers

man and woman bound by rope
CODEPENDENCY depicted visually by pidjoe

to a pattern of enabling and unhealthy behaviors that can prevent a person

from achieving autonomy, believing in themselves, and building healthy

relationships. It goes hand in hand with addiction, as well as other mental

health issues, such as anxiety and depression. In this article, we will

explore what causes codependency, its symptoms, how it develops and the

effects it can have. We'll also discuss what you can do if you suspect you are a codependent, and how to break the cycle of codependency.

Introduction to Codependency and its Causes

Codependency has been defined as “an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.” It is characterized by an excessive emotional,

physical, and psychological reliance on another person. mental health issues. It can also be caused by an individual's need for approval, fear of abandonment, or difficulty setting boundaries.

The Symptoms of Codependency

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of codependency, as it often manifests in different ways for different people. However, some common symptoms include an excessive need for approval, an inability to set boundaries, an excessive need to please others, and a tendency to put others needs ahead of your own. You may also feel like you have to take care of others, even at the expense of your own health and well-being. 

Other signs of codependency may include feeling like you can't be happy unless someone else is happy, feeling like you're the only one who can help, having difficulty expressing anger, and feeling guilty when you don't meet the expectations of others.

It is seen as a "relationship addiction" where the codependent forms and maintains one-sided relationships with emotionally, mentally destructive, and even abusive people. 

How Codependency Develops

Codependency can begin in childhood. A child may be taught to put the needs of others ahead of their own, in an attempt to gain love and approval. This can lead to a pattern of codependent behaviors that continue into adulthood. In some cases, codependency can be the result of a traumatic experience. This can be anything from physical or sexual abuse to witnessing a traumatic event. In these cases, an individual may develop the survival mechanisms of the codependent personality in an attempt to protect themselves from further harm.

In other cases, codependency can be passed down from one generation to the next. If a parent is codependent, they may pass on their codependent behaviors to their children.

The Effects of Codependency

Codependency can have a variety of negative effects on an individual's mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. It may lead to feelings of low self-worth, depression, and anxiety. It can also lead to problems in relationships, as codependents may have difficulty expressing their needs or setting boundaries.

Codependency often also affects physical health causing illness. It can lead to increased levels of stress, which can harm the body. It can also lead to a lack of self-care, which can lead to a weakened immune system and other physical health issues.

What You Can Do If You Suspect You're Codependent

If you suspect that you are a co-dependent, it's important to seek help. A mental health professional can help you to identify the cause of your codependency and develop strategies for addressing it.

There are also several resources available to help you explore your codependency. These include books, online forums, and support groups. It can also be helpful to talk to a trusted friend or family member about your concerns.

How to Break the Cycle of Codependency

Breaking the cycle of codependency can be difficult. The first step is to become aware of your codependent behaviors and start to challenge them. This can involve recognizing when you're putting others' needs ahead of your own and actively seeking to change that behavior.

It can also be helpful to practice self-care and to set boundaries in your relationships. Practicing self-care means taking time to do things that make you feel good, such as going for a walk, reading a book, or listening to music. Setting boundaries in relationships means learning how to say ‘no’ and communicating your needs and limits.

Understanding Codependency in Your Relationships

It can be helpful to learn more about codependency in your relationships. This can involve recognizing codependent behaviors in yourself and your partner, as well as identifying how codependency is affecting your relationship dynamic. It can also be helpful to talk to your partner about your codependency. This can help to open a dialogue about the issue and make it easier to identify and address codependent behaviors.

It is imperative to stress that as you become self-aware of your codependency it is crucial to be working with a guide, therapist, or mentor to help you see what relationships you are in have healthy and safe intentions and behaviors towards you. 

Codependents are a perfect hiding ground and attractant for the strong personalities of narcissists and are often born into a family with a narcissistic parent. Be highly aware of the warning signs of abuse and seek support quickly if you feel threatened at all. 

Strategies for Coping with Codependency

There are several strategies you can use to help cope with codependency. It can be helpful to practice mindfulness and self-compassion. This means taking time to focus on your own needs and actively practicing self-care. It can also be helpful to practice assertiveness. This means learning how to express your needs healthily and respectfully, and to set boundaries in

your relationships.

Finally, it can be helpful to reach out for support. This can involve talking to

a mental health professional or joining a support group.


Codependency is a complex issue that can have a significant effect on an individual's mental and physical health. Recognizing the signs of codependency and understanding its causes can be the first step toward overcoming it. With the right support, it is possible to break the cycle and

build healthier relationships.

Are you a codependent? If you suspect that you are the mentoring professionals at Narc & Co are highly skilled in supporting you in overcoming the damaging reach of the narcissistic and codependent symbiotic relationship. 

This article was written by the Narc & Co team to aid in your healing journey.


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