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Codependent Romantic Relationships: The Latest Research Discoveries

Updated on September 3, 2014
Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr. Billy Kidd researched romantic relationships for 15 years. He held focus groups in various cities across the nation.


Few scholara fully understand the basics of codependency, so little information about how it actually works filters into the popular media. But here is what the latest research reveals:

What we hear about codependency is that people with relationships anxiety are compelled to get into relationships where they want to help someone—especially a sex addict, pot head, an alcoholic, or an abusive partner.

What we know is that at the heart of codependency are the following factors:

● Codependency is misplaced caregiving.

● It is treating adults as if they are children, who need to be babied or nurtured, and taught a lesson.

● Codependents put their lovers in a parent-child relationship, which almost guarantees that their partners will act out against them—like unruly children.

● Codependency’s real motive is to get the better of someone—seeing them mess up when you told them how to do something a better way—in an effort to build up your own faulty ego that makes you feel worthless.

● In all reality, people with codependent personalities try to change other people because they cannot change themselves, no matter how hard they might want to.

● The addict or abusive partner, who is being taken care of by the codependent person, generally feels entitled to receive unwarrented attention.

● Codependency is a learned behavior that develops during childhood, generally from having caregivers who act more like children than adults.

● Watching parents, who act like children themselves, can cause a child to have an anxious bonding systems, where the child is afraid nothing is ever going to work out with his or her family.

● Children who are anxious often worry about their family and try to help out, trying to act like the adults in the situation should be acting.

● Adults with anxious bonding systems try to caregive to other adults in order to gain control of their relationships. This follows from their basid distrust of romantic partnerships and family relations.

● A person being taken care of by someone with a codependent personality will unconsciously be driven to create a crisis where there isn’t one in order to receive more attention from the codependent person.

● Codependent people bond so strongly to dysfunctional people, who behave like children, that it seems like they’ll never give up trying to help or fix the other person.

● When men have this problem, they often act like teachers, preachers, or directors, giving instructions and taking the moral high ground, instead of being involved with their partner on an emotional level.

● If you put one codependent in a room with one sex addict or alcoholic, and fill the room with people, the codependent and the addict/alcoholic will discover each other, and probably leave together.

What goes unsaid in the above information about codependency is that you cannot help a person with a codependent personality to change his or her lifestyle—that of caregiving to adults. This is such an ingrained behavior that it takes two or more years of intense work with a psychologist, or mental health therapist, to get through it.

What's more, codependents often sabotage their own therapy, getting into heated arguments with the staff at mental health facilities.

If you believe you have been in the type of caregiving relationships described here, get professional help. Just knowing what the problem is will not change it. And remember, the mental health facility is there to help you. You are not going to the mental health facility to help it.


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    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great information and breakdown of what codependency is in a relationship. It would provide a lot of insight to codependent persons, challenging them to look closely at themselves and the dynamics of their relationships. Thank you for this informative article. I love the last line, directed at the codependent, lol. Voted up and useful.