Characteristics of Co-dependence

Characteristics of Co-dependence

The following characteristics of co-dependence outlined in the CoDA pamphlet, “What is Codependence?” can help us to identify to what degree this illness affects us.

Many of us struggle with the questions: “What is co-dependence? Am I co-dependent?” We want precise definitions and diagnostic criteria before we will decide. Co-dependents Anonymous, as stated in the Eight Tradition, is a non-professional fellowship. We offer no definition or diagnostic criteria for co-dependence. What we do offer from our experience are characteristic attitudes and behaviors that describe what our co-dependent histories have been like. We believe that recovery begins with an honest self-diagnosis. We come to accept our inability to maintain healthy and nurturing relationships with ourselves and others. We begin to recognize that the cause lies in long-standing destructive patterns of living.

These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. They may be particularly helpful to newcomers.

Denial Patterns of Codependents:

– Have difficulty identifying feelings.
– Minimize, alter or deny their feelings.
– Perceive themselves as being completely unselfish.
– Dedicated to the well-being of others.

Low Self-Esteem Patterns of Codependents:

– Have difficulty making decisions.
– Judge their thoughts, words and actions harshly, as never being good enough.
– Are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise or gifts.
– Are unable to ask others to meet their needs or wants.
– Value other people’s approval of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors over self-approval.

Compliance Patterns of Codependents:

– Compromise their values and integrity to avoid rejection and other people’s anger.
– Are very sensitive to others’ feelings and assume the same feelings.
– Are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
– Place a higher value on others’ opinions and feelings, and are too afraid to express differing viewpoints or feelings.
– Put aside personal interests and hobbies to do what others want.
– Accept sex as a substitute for love.

Control Patterns of  Codependents:

– Believe most others are incapable of taking care of themselves.
– Attempt to convince others what they should think and feel.
– Become resentful when others refuse their offers of help.
– Freely offer advice and guidance without being asked.
– Lavish gifts and favors on those they care about.
– Use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
– Have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.