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Showing posts with label codependent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label codependent. Show all posts

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Relationship term meanings - not the Webster Dictionary version.

In discussing relationships with friends, I have used and heard the term settling to describe prior relationships.  I've always felt with the concept of 'settling' that I needed to make a disclaimer.   Namely, that one party is not better than the other person.   In any case, that word can have such an insulting connotation.   

In a separate discussion one time, a friend was telling me his own relationship issues and the term "drifting apart" came to mind.  It occurred to me that that is such a vague term.  

The upshot of those two points is that I felt a blog post coming on. This is a post which I attempt to define/divine the meaning of terms to describe relationships--including small 'r' ones.  These definitions are not your Webster Dictionary clinical type definitions, but what I consider real life definitions.  Anyway, here are a list of 10 terms which I am attempting to divine.  Each person's list may vary.

Settling: Accepting too much of mismatch.  Could be a weak connection, too few interests, being at different stages in life/recovery, etc.  Really, it applies to both partners.  They are accepting/holding onto a situation that is not right for them.  Doesn't mean specifically that either one is 'better' than the other, just they are at different places.

Connection: A deep sense of being on the same page, being able to finish each other's thoughts and sentences.  Sharing or having compatible goals.  In a phrase, being in-tune or in-touch with the other.

Drifting apart: Gradually losing that sense of connection.

Codependent: Too reliant on another person for your sense of contentment.   This is sometimes very subtle to detect.  Obviously in relationships, especially marriage ones with kids, each partner will to an extent rely on the other.   Similarly, in relationships, if it is a healthy one, each partner will bring out (vs. create)  happiness or contentment in the other.  The question is really can you be relatively happy either way.  That is to say, you don't need the relationship to 'fix' yourself.

I'm Fine: It means I'm not fine, but I'm just saying it for one or both of two reasons.  1) Because I don't think you'll understand me anyway.  2) I'm hoping you'll get that I'm not really fine and figure it out without me having to explain it.

Distant: Having drifted apart, connection being strained.

Close: Having a deep connection.

Good Listener: Someone who is more interested in paying attention to you and not trying to prove that they are listening or humoring you while they wait to gain the floor for their words.

Safe: Someone who is not likely to hurt you or break your heart.  Safe often is mistaken for 'boring'.  It can be, but doesn't have to be.  It just means the person is a loyal friend who never have to worry.

Needy:  Also known as too codependent.  Can be a term used by one partner who is distant to the other partner.  Using this term allows the distant partner to push back against the other person's relationship needs.  It can truly apply, but it also can be abused.


I could go on forever, but I think 10 is a nice round number.  In any case, feel free to give your own meanings to these and other relationship terms.  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Addiction/Codependence: Alone and reaching for that bad or missing connection.

In conversations with friends in recovery--where addiction/codependence is present--I've noticed a common theme.  It seems like almost without fail, they have had a poor or non-existent family of origin connection.  

Anyway, to me, it's almost inevitable that addiction/codependence would be more likely to play a huge role in these people's lifes.   I've heard and I believe that people are social creatures.   In our childhood, we need reassurance/nurturing/validation.   I believe that if we miss this early on, people are prone to find this connection in other ways or at least a way to medicate the lack of connection away.

This can lead to a few problems:

  • Lack of healthy relationships.  We may not know how to handle a healthy relationships as we have no model to base what one looks like on.  Furthermore, if we are used to unhealthy relationships, we may be prone to think when we see a healthy one, there must be a catch.  This can lead to sabotaging it, as it is better to have the certainty of a bad relationship rather than the 'uncertainty' of a good one.
  •  Lack of trust of our Higher Power.  If our earthly father whom we can see let's us down, how could we trust our Higher Power whom we can't see.
  • Finding an unhealthy significant other or predatory 'friends' 
    •  As a friend said to me, "Healthy people, generally don't marry addicts".
    • A predator can see or sense an opening where a person is vulnerable and has the ability to adapt their "story" to take advantage of the addict/codependent.
  •  Finding something to 'medicate' away the problem.  Drugs, alcohol or illicit 'relationships', e.g.


Addictive/codependent behavior or relationships remind me of an artificial sweeter.

  • They seem to meet our needs, but like an artificial sweetener they leave a bad aftertaste.
  • As we live them long enough, we find that we adapt to the bad or unnatural/uncomfortable taste  to a point that healthy behaviors and relationships (sugar) becomes too rich or sweet.
  • The may seem like a decent substitute, but living with them--like baking--tends to produce an inferior final product.

Healthy behaviors or relationships remind me of sugar.
  • If indulged properly in our lives, these like sugar will bring us a more rich taste without the biting aftertaste.
  • If we indulged properly in our lives, we will be able to tell a difference between the healthy ones and the unhealthy ones.  Just as if we indulge sugar properly, we will be able to tell what is and is not a natural sweetener.
  • Properly indulging in a natural sweetener of sugar--just like healthy relations--will yield better results in baking--just like living.

Ultimately, I believe the best connections we have are with the guidance of our Higher Power.  We all may not have the advantage of starting off with the best connections as we all don't get to pick our family of origin.  However. even if we started off in an unhealthy environment which encourages with bad connections , as we grown and mature, we have a choice to hold onto the bad connections or not.  Like clinging to a cocoon, we can cling to our bad connections (and the coping skills)  Else, like a butterfly we can break free of the bad connections or sour to better heights and better connections.

In short, we can either seek the authentic sweetener OR we can settle for the artificial sweeteners.

* This blog was cleaned up and updated for republishing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If I am only nice enough/helpful enough...

When people think addiction, they think addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, sex or something similar.  These are all legitimate answers on what are some types of addictions.  One type that I think is missed is codependence.  I have come to realize that codependence is a form of addiction.  It is an addiction to the approval of others.

In listening to codependent personalities, including myself at times I get the sense of if I am only helpful, understanding, kind, generous, loving, caring enough, then I will be loved.   From what I see, often times that produces an exact opposite type response.

* Those on the other side of the equation will take your good nature for granted and will take advantage of you.  In short, they will not respect you and will have a hard time 'loving' you.

* Those on the other side of the equation will see that the codependent has no respect for themselves, but instead is trying to get respect for themselves through approval of another.  This can put off another person.

In a large sense, a more honest assessment of the situation is that a codependent "giver", often gives to get something in return: approval.  They may believe that they are giving because they are good people and to some degree they may be good natured givers.  However, if they really examined their motives, they will find that they much of their impulse to 'give' to those they hope to get approval from.  Now, we are social creatures and it is normal to hope to be approved, but it shouldn't be our primary motivator.  From what I see, if tailor our behavior toward doing the right thing, because it is the right thing--often seen as the golden rule--then I believe we will be approved and appreciated by those who are most important to us.  Ultimately, that is the reflection of  a spiritual self-approval.  

The way I've come to understand it is this.  When I strip away everything and everyone else, what I have left is God and myself.  While I know I'm not perfect, I know He doesn't expect me to be perfect.  What I have to seek out what is in His eyes, the right choices.  If my Higher Power approves of my life choices and my heart, then I have a solid foundation.  Anyone and anything else who 'approves' of me is secondary.  I expect everyone's understand of where their core approval is based is not quite the same, but I believe the point is clear. Base your need for approval in yourself (and your faith) first, and you will be less reliant on codependently seeking the approval of others.

I think one verse in the Bible puts it properly on I believe where to behave your approval:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)