Changing Codependent Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

A lot of codependents are in unhealthy relationships with addicts or patients with mental illness. Codependency symptoms can lead to the dysfunctional relationships in those relationships. This then causes more symptoms of codependency. This makes sense when we think about what codependency means, and the fact that codependents suffer from a “lost self,” in that their thoughts and actions focus on another person.


Due to dysfunctional parenting Codependents are losing the ability to interpret their internal signals. They’ve come to believe they’re not worthy and that what they think, feel or need isn’t worth much. This is their hidden shame. This is why they have an underlying belief that they don’t have the right to be loved because of who they are and that they need to be able to earn it. This causes basic insecurity and fear of being rejected.

The earliest signs of codependency are in childhoodand is characterized by the most basic characteristics of shame (including low self-esteem, denial dependence control, including caretaking, dysfunctional communication and a lack of boundaries. How these traits set the basis for destructive relationships is explained by the author in Conquering Shame and Codependency.

The Role Codependency in Relationships

Since many addicts have become disconnected from their emotions and feelings, the drama of having being in a relationship with someone addicted or mentally disordered might feel exciting or familiar if their childhood was similar. Furthermore, those who are addicts or with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as well as borderline personality disorder (BPD) are often attractive and romantic. They are seductive and lavish their partner with compliments, promises, and even gestures of affection. Codependents crave connections and love, and being loved makes them feel loved. But their dependency and low self-esteem makes them susceptible to seduction and they misinterpret romance as true love.

Codependents deal with the fear of rejection, criticism, and abandonment, by providing empathy, being pleasing, and helping. Their partner defines the relationship, and they go along to maintain the relationship. They admire a narcissist’s grit, conviction, and perceived power (qualities that they lack) and appreciate a caring position and feeling cared of. With those who suffer from addiction and BPD They are often in the role of helping and the caregiver. To the codependent, being loved and needed is a feeling of love. It boosts their self-esteem and makes them feel confident that they won’t be left behind. However, addicts and people suffering from NPD and BPD have deep shame, as they project the own negative feelings onto the one who loves them and wants to assist them.

The reactive nature of codependents increases their attention to their partner, and they hide who they are. They try to take control of the uncontrollable, lose themselves, and try harder to please and be accepted. Though at first they were portrayed as ideal, they’ve since been valued less. The person who has BPD fluctuates between idealizing caring behavior and devaluing the behavior of rejecting. Instead of being needy like people who suffers from BPD those with NPD are impulsive and may be distant and emotionally cold. There are those who show affection towards their spouse, whereas others constantly criticize and insensitive. If you are unable to express your love or even be consistent the more codependents strive to win it, falling to the temptation of surrendering their self-esteem and feelings of health to their spouse. They are never satisfied with their lives while revealing their hidden shame.

How Abusive Relationships Worsen Codependency

This unspoken contract works for a while because codependents are a source of security and stability for an emotional vulnerable addict or a person with BPD and provide missing warmth and connection with a loved one who suffers from NPD. But due to their own vulnerability and lack of boundaries, codependents absorb responsibility, shame and shame that are poured out by abusive people. They are powerless to assist and to please their partner. They are feeling guilty for “mistakes” they’re accused of and frustrated that their efforts are not appreciated and fail. As the relationship declines it also affects the self-esteem of the codependent.

All signs of codependency can contribute to the dysfunctional relationship, which is if not addressed, will worsen over time. When codependents grow more isolated, they become from themselves , they enter the final stages of their illness. The very characteristics which made the relationship work end up being the cause of its failure.

The dynamics in abusive relationships heighten codependents’ stress levels and intensify their efforts to help and comfort their partner. The reality of the addiction or personality disordered patient is able to influence the codependents’ self-concept and perceptions of reality. Self-esteem suffers and they are more anxious and exhausted trying to manage an issue, avoid abuse, and hold the relationships to keep the relationship together.

As they try to adapt to and control another person’s behaviour to feel better, the codependents move away from solutions that are real. They believe that they’re the ones responsible for their partner’s needs and needs, while ignoring their own. Their actions reinforce the belief of their partner that they’re in the wrong and responsible for their addiction and pain. The longer they continue to codepend on each other the worse the situation gets. They both deny their own discomfort and hinder their partner from taking responsibility for their actions as well as their needs and feelings and from getting help. This is called “enabling.” Codependents ‘ denial blocks them from reality that they’re beliefs and behavior contribute to their unhappiness and they do have the option to change.

Changing the Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

The answer lies in doing exactly the opposite of what is natural to the codependent. I write from both my personal and professional experience. It’s really difficult to change the dynamics in abusive relationships without outside support.

In the beginning, it’s about seeing another perspective of reality because partners become separated and confused by the threats, assaults, and skewed reality of addicts or those with BPD or NPD. It’s important to learn all you can about addiction and disorders as well as codependency. Change isn’t likely to begin when partners focus on their own recovery, not on changing the other person, who they’re essentially powerless. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not in charge or choices, but it’s over their own decisions and their lives.

Learning about the effects of addiction BPD, and NPD being able to accept these truths on an in depth level will allow them to be detached and not respond to whatever someone else chooses to make them feel like they’re uncomfortable in the skin. They start to understand that even though their words may cause pain, they’re not truthful. It’s not necessary to leave or staying in a secluded position. It’s similar to having an invisible protective force field. Instead of reacting instead, they are taught to recognize the things they feel, need and desire. They look to meet those needs from people who are supportive and safe. As they grow in confidence they become assertive. Their
The boundaries are heightened, and they are able to ask for what they want, and then set boundaries on what they will and won’t do.

This isn’t easy, but their determination increases in the course of recovery. They might be strong enough to leave or insist that our partner get treatment. Even if they don’t however, they find the lives they lead are more enjoyable as they’ve taken care of their own self-esteem and feeling of wellbeing.

Parents of a child who has BPD or NPD

Because codependents lack the ability to communicate and boundaries, parents respond to their child’s behavior in inappropriate ways. Their child is used to satisfying demands and being the main character, but often without accountability. All children need boundaries that are consistent in their punishment particularly those suffering from NPD or BPD. Sometimes , parents explode in frustration, which makes them feel ashamed and guilt-ridden about their child. To compensate, they might be reluctant to enforce a boundary, which can make things even worse. The punishment and consequences must never be handled with anger, but in a straightforward manner, and ideally should relate to the crime; e.g., “If you throw food, you must clean it up (or leave the table).”

Children need help and need their experiences mirrored, however, not encouraged. They must understand empathy and the consequences of their behaviour on others. It’s important to model this and respect their emotions. Let them know that the actions they take affect others whether in positive or negative ways. Example: “How would it feel if your friend stole your toy)? Would you be hurt or angry? What about when your friend shares a toy? When you take your friend’s toy, he won’t want to play with you.” Children with BPD require self-soothing methods and be taught in the gradual progression to the independence they desire and to be self-sufficient.

Parents aren’t aware of their influence and power can use to make their child obey, go to counsel, finish chores, or find a job. Many times, they fear that their child suffering from BPD is going to be killed or committed suicide. Their fears make them easier to manipulate. If they do not react, they will discover that their tricks are no longer effective. However, it requires tremendous strength to be unwavering in the face of. It’s difficult to stay calm and love the child who is disruptive, violent, and saying insulting things. Outside support is essential. If addiction is an issue Find a suitable gathering for the relatives of addicts.

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