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Codependency: The Real Meaning

It’s a little bit overwhelming to understand these topics. You can think you understand them, then you don’t! One thing I read that made it truly hit home for me was a quote by Dr. Ross Rosenburg, a therapist who wrote The Human Magnet Syndrome. He describes codependency as a person who dates, marries, or befriends someone who gives LESS to the relationship than the codependent does yet the codependent still stays. A balanced person would see it for what it is – unequal – and leave.

There are many factors that might make it hard for someone to understand they are being “codependent”. One factor is trauma bonding. Trauma bonding makes you look for the REASON behind why someone does what they do rather than just calling it what it was. For example, if someone comes home and punches a wall they think “maybe they are acting out because of their childhood” rather than thinking “hitting the walls is scary and unacceptable”.

Of course, it’s never this easy when there are feelings involved. Most people are very tentative to set a firm limit because there is the definite threat that the relationship could change form or end. But knowing the difference between trauma bonding and normal bonding could help keep you out of less than acceptable relationships in the future. You won’t make the excuses, you will keep distance or let the relationship go. If you are in a trauma bonded relationship, getting firm with a limit may push your partner or friend to truly wake up and get the help they need. That will never happen while you are giving them wiggle room.

Hard topics! Codependents think they can help heal their partners or they believe they can say it just right and the partner will finally wake up – so they keep trying and trying and trying.. The real truth is they need to be ready to leave or take a break from the relationship – that might be the only thing that really helps. It’s not easy and also very sad. My hope is that someday we will see an unequal relationship right from the start and avoid them completely.

Anyway, I wish you the best as you navigate this very difficult world of relationships. Happy Sunday.

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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