February 18, 2023

Co-dependent Friendships

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In a co-dependent friendship, both individuals may have a strong need for the other’s approval, validation, or support, to the point where they may feel trapped or helpless without the other person. The individuals involved rely heavily on each other for their sense of self-worth, identity, and emotional support. This can lead to an unhealthy dynamic where both individuals may be enabling each other’s problematic behaviors or emotional issues.

Some common signs of co-dependency include:

  • An excessive need to please or be needed by the other person
  • Difficulty setting healthy boundaries or saying “no”
  • A tendency to prioritize the other person’s needs over one’s own
  • A need for constant validation and approval from the other person
  • An inability to cope with conflict or confront difficult issues
  • A tendency to become overly involved or enmeshed in the other person’s life
  • A feeling of being trapped or dependent on the other person

Addressing codependency in a friendship can be challenging, as it often requires both individuals to recognize the issue and make changes. Some ways to adjust or “fix” a codependent friendship may include setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, seeking individual or couples therapy, and addressing any underlying emotional issues. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to end the friendship if the codependency is too deeply ingrained, or if it is negatively impacting one or both individuals’ well-being.

How can therapy help?

  • Identify and understand the root causes: A therapist can help a person explore their past experiences, family dynamics, and relationship patterns in order to identify the root causes of their co-dependency. This can help the person gain a deeper understanding of their behavior and develop insight into their feelings and motivations.
  • Address underlying emotional issues: Co-dependency often stems from underlying emotional issues, such as low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, or unresolved trauma. A therapist can help a person address these underlying issues, which can help reduce the symptoms of co-dependency.
  • Develop healthy boundaries: Co-dependent individuals often struggle with setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” to others. A therapist can help a person develop clear and effective boundary-setting skills, which can improve their sense of self-worth and reduce their reliance on others.
  • Improve communication skills: Communication is a key component of any healthy relationship. A therapist can help a person develop better communication skills, such as active listening, assertiveness, and conflict resolution, which can improve their relationships and reduce their co-dependency.
  • Practice self-care: Co-dependent individuals often neglect their own needs and well-being in order to focus on others. A therapist can help a person develop self-care practices, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, which can help improve their self-esteem and reduce their reliance on others for emotional support.
  • Develop healthier relationships: A therapist can help a person identify and develop healthier relationships, which can provide them with the emotional support they need without relying on others in an unhealthy or co-dependent way.

It’s important to note that therapy for co-dependency can take time and may involve setbacks along the way. However, with the help of a qualified therapist, it is possible for individuals to overcome co-dependency and develop healthier, more fulfilling relationships. If you find yourself stuck in co-dependent relationships and want to lead a life that feels more your own, reach out today.