Are You Addicted to a Man?

Posted by in love after 40, self-esteem in dating, single women over 40 | 0 comments

Have you ever felt like you were so obsessed with a guy, it felt like an addiction? Have you been in a relationship that felt one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive? Unfortunately, many of my clients have been in these types of relationships. Needless to say, their self-esteem is greatly reduced. Mental health professionals call these types of relationships ‘codependency’, or ‘relationship addiction’. When a relationship of this nature ends, it can feel like a heroine addiction. And while many of my readers may have experienced a less extreme version of ‘relationship addiction’, I felt it was an important topic to address.

How do you recognize codependency? According to the National Mental Health Association, codependency begins in a dysfunctional home.

“A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

  • An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling.
  • The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness.”
In these families, problems are suppressed, ignored, or just not discussed. The ‘survivor’ child learns to suppress his/her own needs in order to survive. He/she becomes detached, unable to fully express or validate emotions. They  learn that it’s important to put the needs of the ‘sick/needy’ family member(s) before your own, thus negating your own sense of self.
How Do Co-dependent People Behave?

“Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves.” Some try to feel better through alcohol, drugs or nicotine – and become addicted. Others may develop compulsive behaviors like workaholism, gambling, or indiscriminate sexual activity.

They have good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the care-taking becomes compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.

The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts allow the needy individual to continue on a destructive course and to become even more dependent on the unhealthy care-taking of the “benefactor.” As this reliance increases, the co-dependent develops a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.” When the care-taking becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels choice-less and 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 attracted to that same weakness in the love and friendship relationships.

Characteristics of Co-dependent People:

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
  • A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
  • A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
  • A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  • An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
  • An extreme need for approval and recognition
  • A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
  • A compelling need to control others
  • Lack of trust in self and/or others
  • Fear of being abandoned or alone
  • Difficulty identifying feelings
  • Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
  • Problems with intimacy/boundaries
  • Chronic anger
  • Lying/dishonesty
  • Poor communications
  • Difficulty making decisions
It’s important to recognize patterns of codependency in order to treat it properly. If you or someone you know is codependent, a good therapist or coach should be able to help learn to access emotions more fully.
“The co-dependent must identify and embrace his or her feelings and needs. This may include learning to say “no,” to be loving yet tough, and learning to be self-reliant. People find freedom, love, and serenity in their recovery.”
If any of the above hits home for you, it’s important to seek treatment and begin to heal before embarking on a relationship with a man. If you don’t heal, you will continue to seek out unhealthy partners to ‘complete’ you. You can only complete yourself. Only then will you be able to find a healthy, loving relationship with a man.
Please feel free to contact me if you are ready to make the changes necessary to go from codependent to independent.
It is possible to find lasting love. Take those first steps towards loving yourself.

 

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