Codependency is relationship addiction, according to behavior experts. It means that you’re trying to make the relationship work when the other half doesn’t seem to care. And often, people in this type of dysfunctional arrangement can’t seem to acknowledge that the problem exists.
Healthy relationships contain a good dose of mutual respect, trust, honesty, compromise, individuality, good communication, understanding, anger management, and problem solving.
Unhealthy relationships, according to the Center for Disease Control, have elements of control, dependence, dishonesty, disrespect, hostility, intimidation, and physical or sexual violence. Wise couples will tell you that there is no perfect union, and relationships take hard work. But if your relationship has more bad than good, here’s some food for thought:
- Was alcoholism or physical abuse present in your household while growing up?
- Do you have an overwhelming sense of responsibility for the actions of others?
- Do you hide emotions or disregard your own needs?
- Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
- Do you do more than your share all of the time?
- Do you find it difficult expressing your true feelings to others?
- Do you fear abandonment or find it difficult to be alone?
- Is it difficult to make decisions without the approval of others?
- Do you worry about what others may think of you?
- Are you the only person committed to the relationship?
A qualified healthcare professional can help you determine if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, and if your answers to these questions stir up some uneasiness, it’s probably time to reach out to a professional. Shelters and crisis centers can offer temporary housing, advice on legal matters, and support services.
If your partner’s anger frightens you, if he discourages you from seeing friends, if she controls your money and what you wear, if he humiliates you in front of others—or worse, she threatens to harm you or the people you care about, it’s time to get help and get out of an unhealthy and potentially dangerous relationship.
If you think you are in an unhealthy relationship, please contact one of these local resources:
Washington County Department of Social Services. 240-420-2100. Counseling and case management.
Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA). Hotline: 301-739-8975. Emergency shelter, meals, counseling, case management, employee assistance, and support groups.
Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission. 301-739-1165. Emergency shelter, meals, clothing, and counseling.
By Anne Gill