Codependents generally have an unhealthy focus on the external. In many cases, this focus is on a specific person (usually emotionally unavailable) but it can also be on work, to take an example. Why they do this has been well documented. I wrote about the roots of codependency recently and it is commonly agreed to be caused by developmental trauma and the lack of the so-called “psychological birth“.
When codependents are involved in a relationship of any sort, it is extremely likely that they will become involved with the type of person that will take full advantage of their sacrificial, generous nature. Their willingness to give continually is often a precursor for abuse and control. I have heard monstrous stories concerning the treatment of codependents at the hands of a certain type. These types blow through their lives like a tornado, leaving a trail of destruction behind and always reserving the right to return for more supply. The process often leaves a codependent physically, emotionally and usually financially broken and wondering wheat the world is all about. You will find many stories on forums and pages regarding this.
What is often less documented is what codependents get out of such an arrangement. I use the word arrangement purposely as these are not “normal” relationships. They are based on control and abuse and often have trauma bonding at the centre of them. As I have written before, codependency is not love but control. Here lies the motive for most codependents involved in such unions, controlling and fixing to help with the insecurity they feel and indeed, have felt since childhood.
When codependents fall, they fall hard and give everything. In the relationships described above, they soon realise after the adulation stage is over that the partner in front of them has turned from prince charming to an over-critical oaf, leading often to a nasty ending. It is often difficult for the victims to let go and realistically see who this person is. This is mostly due to the self-blame and full responsibility they take for the issues. “I was too needy”, “If I had done this or that, it would have gone differently”, I often hear.
However, additional to the trauma based reasons for getting into the relationship, they tend to take a disproportionate amount of time to recover from such ventures. While it would be true to say that this is very much down to the abuse they have likely suffered, they have their own reasons for “hanging-on” in many cases. Focusing solely on the person who has just dysfunctionally breezed through your life means that other more “scary” issues can be avoided. Convincing yourself you are in a “relationship” keeps you off the market and as such avoiding potential rejection. Not facing reality means you can avoid looking at some of the reasons that relationships aren’t working. Taking the blame for everything, stops any thoughts of bad decision-making and failure. Holding on keeps open the idea of “fixing the bad boy” so security can be found.
Codependents have my sympathy but the reasons they do what they do is not always as clear as it seems. While they know logically that facing issues is essential, emotionally this is often a step too far.