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Are you addicted to another person?

September 25, 2012

Are you addicted to another person?

It can happen.  It’s referenced lightly in pop songs, movies and even in banter with friends when we first meet someone we’re attracted to, but there is a type of addiction to another person that has serious impacts on your mental wellbeing.  It’s called co-dependency.

Psychiatrist David Sack lists five signs of co-dependent behaviour:

  1. Taking responsibility for others
  2. Putting someone else’s feelings above your own
  3. Going to extremes to hold onto a relationship
  4. Difficulty recognising and communicating emotions
  5. Inability to set and maintain personal boundaries

Parts of that list might not sound too problematic.  As a parent, or the head of a family, it’s natural to take responsibility for others and put someone else’s feelings before your own sometimes.

However, are you losing your sense of self in the process by becoming totally absorbed by the other person.  Dr Sack writes of the co-dependent person:

“Although their efforts may at first seem noble, they are in fact driven by the codependent’s need to feel needed. Serving others, often to the exclusion of their own needs and desires, is the only way they feel valued and loved.”

If you are unhappy in your relationship, it may be time to analyse what’s really going on, either by yourself or with your partner if you feel that’s appropriate.  Counselling and therapy can help immensely in giving you clarity around this process.

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