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What is codependency?

People with codependency have a strong tendency to repeatedly form or maintain relationships that are harmful to them in terms of being either emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

The following are examples of a codependent relationship: A wife covering for her alcoholic husband; a mother making excuses for her child who doesn't want to go to school; or a father trying to “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of destructive behavior.

The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts enable the needy individual to continue on a destructive course which results in an increasing dependence on their rescuer. As this reliance increases, the co-dependent rescuer develops a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.” Ultimately the co-dependent feels helpless in the relationship, but is unable to break away from the cycle of behavior that causes it. Co-dependents view themselves as victims and are actually attracted to that same weakness in their love and friendship relationships. 

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--Written by N Thompson, ARNP Last updated April 2007

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