Do I feel empty inside- especially when I am single?
Do I spend a lot of time trying to “fix” other people?
Am I attracted to very needy people or emotionally distant individuals?
Do I jump from one relationship to another to avoid being alone?
Do I find myself in one-sided relationships- relationships that lack mutual care and compassion?
Do I put a lot more energy into the relationship than my partner?
Do I find myself in abusive relationships?
Do I tend to be the caregiver in my relationships while my needs go unmet?
Do I stay in relationships that are abusive or unhealthy because I fear being alone?
Do I stay in relationships even though I am miserable?
Can I relate to the U2 song, With or Without You (I can’t live with or without you)?
Do I feel like I lose myself in relationships?
Do I feel like the other person is the only thing that will ever make me happy?
Do I feel an empty void inside of me that I try to fill by attaching to other people?
Do I often try to control others through people pleasing behaviors, thinking that the more I do for them, the less likely they are to leave me?
Do I feel like I need another person to make me feel special, important, and complete?
Another term for relationship addiction is co-dependency. If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may be co-dependent.
Relationship addiction/co-dependency is often the result of early childhood deprivation or neglect. When a child doesn’t get their emotional needs adequately met, they may spend the rest of their lives trying to heal that wound by desperately attaching to other people, unconsciously trying to get their childhood attachment needs met.
Often times a co-dependent person was raised by a counter-dependent person who was emotionally unavailable due to their own childhood wounds. The counter-dependent person may have coped with these wounds by numbing out or walling off feelings leaving their child longing for attachment.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a clinical psychologist, recently wrote a terrific post on his Boundaries of the Soul blog called When Co-dependency becomes Counter-dependency.
Dr. Jenner writes…
I once read that up to 98% of the global population is co-dependent to some extent but a figure much lower then that actually realize it and very few know how to do something about it. Many therapists and doctors treat it as a disease that one has to endure, be stuck with or take medication for, all of which is usually not too helpful. Co-dependency is a learned behavior and as such can be unlearned with the help of the right therapist. A therapist who must understand what it is and also understands his own co-dependency. Left to fester, co-dependency can turn into counter-dependency….
Dr. Jenner goes on to explain three different types of co-dependency. He discusses where it often comes from and what can be done to unlearn this behavior that, left untreated, will be passed down from generation to generation.
He also talks about counter-dependency, which he describes as the opposite side of the coin. Jenner writes, “In relationship, there is often one co-dependent and one counter-dependent person.” Many times the co-dependent person trying to get healthy, falls into the trap of becoming counter-dependent.
Relationship addiction can be treated, but first must be recognized. I urge you to read Dr. Jenner’s post in its entirety. It is well worth the read.