We all want our loved ones to be happy. We take pride in being committed to their happiness and yet despite our best efforts we have difficulty in pleasing others or ourselves, why is that? Why can’t being loving and supportive come easily to human beings? Why can’t relationships whether they be within the family or romantic be without the constant pull and push (or what I for better effect call “drama”)?
The main cause for that is the notion that one should put others needs ahead of our own needs. This is a huge social conditioning in India and worldwide in developing countries. Being a family (or in relationship) means that you are expected to sacrifice your goals, beliefs and desires to the “supposed” good of the family or the loved one and in some cases even for the amorphous notion called “society”.
To encourage this “self sacrificial” behavior the family and society gives you the title of “nice person” or “good person” to keep you interested in continuing your self sacrifice.The person who complies is “rewarded” by temporary acceptance and praise and a promise of continued praise that needs to be earned by further compliance. The person who does not comply is labelled “bad”, “immoral”, “wrong”, “selfish”, and many other such labels that many a times have a desired effect of compliance. This environment of conditional acceptance creates a condition called “Codependency” that eventually ends up being a slow and painful killer of love in families and romantic relationships.
Wikipedia defines Codependency as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of or control of another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.
“Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself. It’s kind of a weird phrase, and it doesn’t sound like it means a one-sided relationship. But that’s what it is. It means you’re trying to make the relationship work with someone else who’s not,” Tessina (quoted on WebMD).
Codependency can also arise when a partner is self-absorbed or uninterested, Tessina says. This may happen “in a relationship where only one of you is ever asking to get together or making moves toward the other one.”
All this is essentially drama where, the codependent person often finds some type of reward in this setup. One of the rewards of this is a “false sense of control” as the other person plays the out-of-control person, and so they get to be the person who is in control and thus is respected.
The person who then supports them then can be a better person as they are fulfilling their duty, being sacrificial and create a feeling of “having it all together”.
The reality – A slow decay
While the codependent person feels good about themselves what is in essence happening is a “slow and painful decay” in their capabilities, other parties capabilities, and quality of the relationship between them almost to the point of no return and to the long term detriment of all concerned. Essentially, this ends up being an unintentional “loss-loss-loss” situation for the person, the other, and their relationship.
What the codependent person needs to urgently realize is (yes single person realization works!) that they need to take care of themselves first and foremost always. That is the ultimate morality because if everyone did that most of the situation of codependency would not arise to begin with.
Simply being in a relationship or having the people you love around may be comforting however quality of the relationships overtime is sure to deteriorate. Without high quality relating all the relationships of the person are bound to be on downward spiral towards bitterness or ending.
The best way to preserve such relationships and may be strengthen them later at appropriate time is to “set boundaries” and clearly list our own needs that we are not willing to compromise on at any cost. To create our own dreams that we can follow, build our own strength while being supportive to others as much as we can. The person can continue to support the other so long as they do not pull the person back into codependency games or manipulations or stop the person from actively pursuing their own dreams and day-to-day quality of life.
Once we decide to make our self a priority, the commitment to self will starting creating magic and transform all our relationships. Once others realize that we are serious about our own goals and are committed to our own happiness and NO AMOUNT of drama will make us compromise on our boundaries and goals, they start to have a certain respect for us. After all secretly deep down they wish they had that courage and that kind of focus to go after their own dreams.
There maybe a period of detachment or struggle as others are still used to the old “codependent” you that worked well for them. They will try everything possible to evoke the codependent personality back in you again as that gives them immediate sense of control.
If you give in, the cycle becomes worse as they realize that their methods work on you. If you stick by your self commitment and your assertively state your love for them and at the same time be clear of boundaries and how your love can not be used against you, you will prevail and whats better is you will have a much stronger relationship with the other party.
Strong relationships are based on mutual respect, shared goals, open and honest communication and continuous healthy nurturing of the relationship.
Time to change?
You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to. – Anon via TheDailyLove.com
If you change when you have learnt enough, you have strength left in you to build a life you want. On the other hand if you change when you are hurt enough, you are weak and need the time, space from codependent environment and strong support to build your strength back to follow your dreams.
So are you ready to change now? Or you will you only change when things become worse and you become weak? Would you rather have the strength and support to build a positive life or drain yourself to the end point? How good is the weak you to anyone?
Choice is yours – but the universal principles of relationships are not going to bend for you.