Falling in love is beautiful, isn't it? I can say for myself the process of falling in love makes me feel like I can do anything!
There are reasons why falling in love can be so amazing. When you fall in love, there really is a chemical high that occurs. It is euphoric. There are chemicals that get released in your brain that cause you to feel "love tipsy", like dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and adrenaline.
For a great video that goes more into detail on this, see "The Science of Love".
Researchers conclude that falling in love is much like the sensation of feeling addicted to drugs with the release of such brain chemicals. This falling in love can create a healthy attachment, which is great!
But this "high" does not last forever. Healthy relationships can continue to function well after the “high” ends, as the attachment is healthy. However, for someone struggling with codependency or love addiction, when the “high” goes away, the “crazy” tends to come out.
When you fall in love with someone, the two of you spend so much time together and it's so wonderful! You constantly think about one another and are floating through your days on Cloud Nine.
But eventually, you both need to eat, sleep, work, and so on, so you take the "hyper-focus" off of yourselves and get back to reality, so-to-speak.
But for someone struggling with codependency, this can be very challenging. So, when George wants to stop after work to see his buddy, Mark, Codependent Camelia can take it personal and have a major emotional reaction. She can go a little cray-cray.
You're going to see Mark? But what about me? How dare you skip time with me?
Someone with codependent characteristics can be quite obsessive, jealous, controlling, manipulative, and insecure. There may be constant texting or calling, or perhaps even showing up at the partner's work or home, quite often without notice.
Typically, one who is struggling with codependency has a serious deep rooted fear of abandonment, jealousy, the constant need for attention (which if they don’t get can send them into a tailspin), a victim mentality, emotional immaturity, and more.
They may seem to have it together on the outside, but on the inside, they are most assuredly not. They may be anxious, scared, resentful, depressed, and more. Their mind is racing. Their energy is scattered. Spiritually, they’ll usually be pretty empty. There’s a void inside that causes pathological loneliness.
They’ve lost connection with their true self.
Over time, as codependency progresses, they will hardly be able to function, their thoughts will become more negative, they will typically not have any friends, and their sense of purpose will fade. They will isolate and wrap their whole life around one person and as they do, their needs go out the window. Their dreams go out the window. They don’t know how to take care of themselves because they are desperately trying to take care of everyone else.
Maybe this is where you find yourself or perhaps you know a loved one who struggles. It’s actually quite a common occurrence to some degree in many relationships. Relationship experts state that between 10-20 percent of the population falls in this type of insecure attachment style.
A healthy relationship is one in which two independent people team up and grow both individually and as a couple. Notice the word, INDEPENDENT. It means that even though they're in a relationship, the two partners will still express their individuality.
As stated earlier, codependent relationships tend to look pretty good from the outside. We see two individuals who seem to have good chemistry, but the foundation of their relationship might not be what we think it is.
Sometimes, they are completely unaware of the fact that their relationship relies on a set of needs that are satisfied in a dysfunctional manner. Since they're clueless, they can't do anything to change their relationship because, as I said before, everything looks alright from the outside. You can’t change something or work on an issue that you're not aware of.
The mirage disappears when one of the partners starts to feel the adverse effects of codependency. Maybe she feels the need to have some "me time," but can't because her partner is right there next to her. Or maybe he will get upset if such a request is made.
Perhaps one partner decides to start a new project, but can’t because that might make his soul mate feel upset, frustrated, angry, disappointed, etc.
There is a push and pull or come here, go away going on. Some call it the pursue and retreat cycle.
When I struggled with codependency, I knew very well this cycle of pursue and retreat. I’d be feeling insecure and “pursue” my partner. They would feel my intense neediness and retreat. They’d feel responsible for my level of happiness and that would repel them. And I’d be left feeling abandoned, one of my biggest fears.
I remember multiple times my partner and I breaking up and I’d be in complete emotional upheaval. I was in withdrawal, feeling excruciatingly alone and terrified. Looking back, I can see how it would look “insane”. The intensity of emotional mayhem was overwhelming.
We would break up, be in agony, and within a day or two we’d be rationalizing everything, promising we’d both change, and get back together. The problem is that neither one of us really got down and dirty and did the inner healing or shadow work that needed to be done. We weren’t “awake” so-to-speak. We simply swept things under the rug and put a Band-Aid on some pretty big wounds.
You see, those that will not take time in between relationships to work on themselves tend to have a nose for partners who are just as dysfunctional as them in some fashion.
Maybe this new partner feels lonely, and he will do anything to be with someone – like be a doormat.
Or perhaps she is a controlling person who's willing to offer certain "benefits" (emotional, financial, social, etc.) in exchange for obedience.
Or maybe he’s in active addiction, full of anger and unresolved issues, and unconsciously just wants someone to take care of him.
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples. We can’t know for sure why two people choose to be in a codependent relationship, unless we get a clear picture of the dynamics between them.
Someone struggling with drug addiction craves that next “hit” to feel that euphoric feeling they’ve come to love.
In the case of codependency, attention or approval can become that “hit” that you NEED in order to feel good about yourself. But hitting that “approval bong” gets old, fast.
Essentially, attention seeking is you focusing on the “outer” things (people) in order to feel worthy. It’s you valuing the opinion or approval of others over your own. It’s you having a meltdown when others don’t approve of you or give you attention. It’s you basing your decisions on what others think, oftentimes sacrificing your own views, ambitions, and dreams.
If you can relate to any of these, you may be struggling with codependency characteristics. However, the good news is that you can learn to enjoy better relationships by diving into some inner healing work via a self-directed healing journey