Relationship Assassins – The Co-Dependent
This one is perhaps the master of disguises, the king of wolves in sheep’s clothing. It wears the cloak of nobility so well that you actually believe wholeheartedly that you are doing the right thing. When you call it by its other name the mask comes off a little – destructive nurturing. It takes two forms: One is when you put the other’s needs first to the complete detriment of your own; two is when you try to be the healer and end up destroying two people in the process.
The reason this one catches us so off-guard is that we feel a need to be co-dependent and actually believe we are doing the right thing. It’s a dangerous thing, it’s like sleeping in a bath of leeches; you will inevitably be sucked dry. Putting someone else’s needs above your own is never OK, especially when you feel compelled to do it. The simple truth is this: How much will you have to give when you don’t have anything left to give?
Co-dependency is allowing someone to siphon all your petrol but never putting anything back in, because you won’t let them or won’t ask for it. Destructive nurturing is looking for someone to fix but doing at as a broken person and out of the need to fix (usually because you need fixing yourself). At the heart of these behaviours is someone who feels woefully inadequate, and therefore a target for co-dependency. If your self-esteem is low, it can never be boosted by being a relationship martyr. This is one instance where it is not your job to die for the cause. The sad thing that ending co-dependency is usually the same as ending the relationship, a relationship built on that foundation will have no basis for continuing without it.
If you are in a co-dependent relationship, either as the giver or the taker, and you have noticed that this is a recurring pattern then you need help pronto. The behaviours and feelings are extremely evasive, so untangling them yourself is not always possible, and you may even fight to keep them. So if you spot co-dependency then you need to act right away, your relational happiness and personal health depend on it. Go to www.imagineif.co.za for immediate assistance.