Top 10 signs you are codependent

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There is a fine line between being a kind, giving person, and being codependent. We used to think that codependents existed only in conjunction with someone else’s addiction – but it is now understood as a problem in its own right. Also note that most sex addicts are also codependent themselves!

The biblical Martha, rushing around, choosing to be “cumbered with much serving,” but becoming highly resentful while she does it, is illustrative of codependency. Of the symptoms below, some may simply indicate your generous and selfless nature. However, if they occur often enough to prevent you from living your own life, then think about why you do what you do. Some signs that may indicate codependency are:

1. You spend a lot of time doing things for others, but you also feel resentful about it.

2. You rarely do anything for yourself or spend anything on yourself beyond bare essentials. On a related note – and often as a consequence – you have forgotten what “having fun” feels like.

3. You find it easier to say yes (and feel badly about doing whatever you agreed to) than to say no in the first place.

4. In relationships, you treat your partner as well as you hope s/he will eventually treat you, and wonder why s/he doesn’t follow your example. You allow this to continue indefinitely.

5. You find yourself sacrificing some of your values to fit in with how your partner or friends choose to live.

6. When friends and family are in trouble you see it as your responsibility to help them, even if they brought the problem on themselves, and even if they need to learn from their own consequences if ever they are to change.

7. You allow others to invade your boundaries because it makes you feel needed.

8. Even though your own life is in order, you attract dysfunctional people who immediately start to depend on you. You allow this.

9. You have difficulty thinking about yourself as central to your life. Even if asked about yourself, you somehow end up talking about the people who are in your life rather than about you.

10. If you were drowning, someone else’s life would flash before your eyes.

Note that this list was adapted from a list created by Diana Robinson, Ph.D. Thanks Diana!

6 thoughts on “Top 10 signs you are codependent”

  1. In addiction circles, the terms are used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. In fact, “coaddiction” is a term that’s falling out of favor, and rightly so. Coaddiction usually is used in reference to the spouse of an addict who does things that enable the spouse to continue in addiction, out of fear of losing the relationship if he or she stands up to the addict. That is codependent behavior. Codependence is just a term that is more broad … and applies to many different kinds of relationships, even when addiction isn’t present. Hope that helps.

  2. Personally, I like to stay away from both word desriptions and just refer to the non-addict as a

    *wife and an addict
    *child of an addict
    *parent of an addict

    etc, etc

    It sounds a little less clinical and a lot more personal.

  3. My spouse is a sex addict. I do not have any of the symptoms of codependency. I have plenty of symptoms of having been traumatized. Most therapists insist that codependency must be present, it is not. This insistence has only served to label and re-traumatize. My husband was an active sex addict for 30 years before he slipped up and I found out. He is a master of illusion and deception and no one close to him had any idea that he had this secret life of prostitutes, clubs, escorts, underwear fetish and excessive masturbation. He goes to one meeting a week and reads his Hazelton book in the morning. He still ogles, he still lies, he is brittle and angry often. I am grateful for your article asking about how much time is dedicated to recovery. I have realized that in 6 years of recovery he has given the minimal amount of time to his recovery and none to helping me heal. He has made no effort at amends. I have shared too much here but I am at my wits end. I believe that longer you were together before finding out about this level of betrayal the more intense the trauma and there does not seem to be any help available.

  4. It is interesting reading about this because I can admit I am a co-dependent person. It actually finally hit me why I do specific things. I grew up with an alcoholic father who was abusive to my mother, myself and my sister. Once he left, my sister got sick so that was even tougher. It hit me when it says that co-dependents talk more about others than their self. I can relate, but have no idea how to work on this. I am seeing a counselor so I will bring this up my next appointment. It became apparent when people would ask me about myself and I honestly wasn’t sure what they wanted to know. They wanted to know all about me, but I always seemed to talk about my family whom I am really close to. It is tough. I also have the others symptoms as well which sucks, but I am willing to work on.

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