Is It Bad To Be Codependent?

Have you ever wondered whether you are too dependent on your partner? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines codependency as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)” or “broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another”. Of course it is bad to be codependent based upon the first definition; the broad definition is where I believe many people run into trouble.

Codependent is a misleading and often misinterpreted word. I have seen numerous posts on social media basically referring to any relationship where you’re “co-depend” on one another as toxic…that we should have everything in our life together and figured out before we even try looking for someone to date. This thinking is not only a misinterpretation of the word, it is toxic itself.

If you’re waiting until you have everything together and not going to bring any baggage or negative energy into a relationship before you look for one, you’re either going to die single or you’re a liar. No one is perfect. Everyone brings negativity into relationships. Of course if that’s all you’re bringing, that’s a problem. But my fear is that many people buy this lie that we should have everything figured out before we jump or that our partner shouldn’t have any issues.

This attitude breeds a toxic idea that will consume any relationship. If your expectation is that you or your partner should have all their shit together, shame and judgement are going to run rampant in your relationship. Worse, it eliminates the possibility of real love and turns marriage into a conditional contract, ripped up anytime either person makes any major mistakes (which is undoubtedly going to happen because both people are flawed humans).

If you don’t depend on anyone for anything, you are the one with the problem. Humans are built to rely on one another in community. We do need each other. Any healthy relationship is co-dependent in terms of each person relying on the other for some of their needs. A healthy marriage is one of give and take, sharing responsibilities, sacrificing, and putting their needs in front of your own (as long as these are healthy needs).

Being codependent in this way is not weak…it is love. This toxic view that you’re weak or broken or disqualified from a relationship because you are going to “need” or rely on something from that other person is prideful, arrogant, and selfish to its core. Unfortunately, this self-reliance on steroids is killing people’s chance for happiness and love.

The Meeting of the Stoic and Romantic – A Poem

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The Meeting of the Stoic and Romantic – A Poem

The stoic spoke to the romantic
As they crossed paths in the Roman Forum.
“How can you be so weak, so feeble, so helpless?
Have you no shame to show the world your heart, to wear emotion on your face?
Have you no fear, no understanding of the human race?
Surely, you’ll be taken advantage of
And this foolish notion you call love
Is nothing but an illusion.
The solution to life lies in the mind, not the heart.
Don’t weep when the world swallows you whole and tears you apart.
You’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
Can’t you be more like I
And pass the cruelty of the world by without batting an eye?
I am strong, in control, composed.
My fate is in my own hands.
I control my destiny and refuse to bow before any woman or man.
Scatter along now, and put that heart back where it belongs.
Chest out, chin up. Do at least pretend to be strong.”

The romantic did not cast his eyes down in shame,
But a fire of passion ignited on his face
And a smirk delighted in the flames.
“Ah, you may think I’m weak, feeble and without poise.
But I tell you without a doubt
That I’m stronger than mountains because I have a voice.
It is you, my friend, who is the weaker one.
For where I have joy, you have none.
It is true that my heart waivers from hot to cold.
But tell me, what will you have to hold onto
As your days pass and you grow old?
I trust in more than myself, for two is greater than one.
Independence is but a charade for the coward who hides and runs.
I choose to feel. I choose life.
Can a man who feels nothing at all even be considered alive?
My tear drops may fall. I may be called a fool to forgive.
But my scars are not weaknesses, but proof that I’ve lived.
I’ll go on loving without fear, for it’s the world’s most powerful fire –
Powerful enough to even topple this entire Roman Empire.”

At this the stoic balked.
What stupidity to think that love could withstand such force.
He chuckled and walked away.
But in the city of Jerusalem history was changing course –
A man named Jesus was being laid in a grave.

– Poem written by Justin Farley