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    Codependency and boundaries

    Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition in which a person has difficulty drawing the line between where they end and another person begins. Like love addicts, codependents rely on another person for their sense of self-worth and identity. This affects an individual’s ability to have healthy and mutually fulfilling relationships.

    Codependency is a learned behavior that is often a result of growing up in a family with codependent relationship patterns. Originally, codependent was a term used to describe the pattern of relationships in a family where one or more person is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. Now we know that codependent relationships can develop within many different types of dysfunctional family systems.

    When a family member is struggling with an addiction, other members will often fall into different roles of codependency. For the partner of an addict this may take the form of enabling the addiction through caretaking. The codependent person may develop a dependence on the reward and satisfaction they gain from “being needed” to look after their partner.


    The following are signs and symptoms of codependency:

    § An unhealthy dependence on relationships.

    (A codependent will do anything to avoid feelings of abandonment and may therefore stay in unhealthy and even abusive relationships.)

    § Inability to find satisfaction in life outside of relationships.

    § Neglecting one’s own needs in order to care for your partner.

    § Difficulty creating boundaries and distinguishing between one’s own responsibilities, emotions, and behaviors and those of others.

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