In its broadest sense, co-dependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors or things. Co-dependency results in the unconscious and misdirected behavior that you can control interior feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the exterior. To the codependent, control or lack of it is central to every aspect of life.
A co-dependent relationship is identified by two people being overly or unhealthily enmeshed together so that neither are able to comfortably function independently, and continually seek approval and validation from each other – even though enough is never enough.
It is usually characterized by individuals who often behave immaturely towards each other. This is due to underdeveloped self esteem that results in neither person being able to establish healthy boundaries.
Often there is an inappropriate level of caring – one may even hold their own needs at a considerably lower priority than their partner, yet at the same time may complain that the other person is not appreciative or that they are being used.
At the same time there may be an inappropriate reliance on the other person’s responses which is then played out in a negatively reinforcing loop – so the two people spend their time in a never ending yet unfulfilling ‘dance’ which can become toxic at times.
Another symptom is where one openly states that they require the other person to be present for them to be truly happy – and thus place all their personal happiness on the reaction or behaviours of the other person. When one person believes that the other person has all the power to make them happy they then shift into a victim mentality – so everything that happens is due to other people being thoughtless or not caring.
Co-dependent people struggle relentlessly to fill the great emotional vacuum within themselves - and can be likened to a vacuum cleaner that has gone wild, drawing to themselves not just another person, but also alcohol or drugs, or money, goods food, sexuality or work.
A co-dependent is chronically not centered, in a way that other people are, and their 'centre,' or 'where their focus is,' will often veer toward you in a way that you can discern; it often has a child-like quality to it-if it were an actual child, you would be OK with it.
A mature person has boundaries, which means that there are things that it would be very difficult to talk them into; yet a codependent can usually be swayed much more easily because they generally have a more poorly defined centre.
Often codependency masquerades as many of a society's most common individual traits. Labels such as controlling or type A, drama queen, people pleaser, doormat, wallflower, empathy, etc, can be, and usually are, indications of a codependency, passive-aggressive or manic-depressive behavior is generally attributed to codependency.
Co-dependency is debilitating and can bring about life-altering changes if it is not curbed so if applicable to you seek to find alternate means of happiness at all costs.
An interesting aspect however is that the same attributes that make a co-dependent difficult to remain close to translates into an engaging openness to strangers, thus making them great customer service or sales representatives, bus drivers, and/or responsible employees in general as co-dependents micro care for others.