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Codependency and Relationship Addiction


Codependency is a condition that results from growing up in a dysfunctional family.  It is a dysfunctional adaptation to adverse circumstances that is often found in adult children of alcoholics and other addicts. Those children adapt to adverse circumstances (developmental trauma, addictive behavior of one or both parents) by blocking their development to cope with dysfunctional people. Codependency is often the underlying condition to substance and process addictions. It is characterized by:

  • Low self-esteem and relying on others' approval for the sense of self-worth
  • Inability to experience and set functional boundaries
  • Uncertain contact with reality which is distorted by fantasy, projections and other psychological defense mechanisms
  • Inability to take appropriate care of one's needs and wants
  • Inability to express one's feelings and emotions moderately


Relationship addiction

Relationship addictionis a process addiction that is closely linked to the underlying co-dependency, and is manifested when codependents bond to form adult relationships. Codependency is a chronic source of internal discomfort and pain, and codependents become dependent to other people for relief. The changed neuronal and brain activity results in the out of control, risky and self-destructive behavior, but they cannot stop it in spite of destructive consequences and several attempts, which is characteristic for addictions.


Behavior forms:

Love addiction: It is characterized by the obsession with the chosen people and the fantasy of unrealistic expectations of unconditional love that would forever solve one’s problems. The partnerships and other important relationships with the love addicts become very complicated and full of pain and betrayal, for there is no one who could forever satisfy the addictive craving and longing. The relationship addicts are compulsively driven to control and try to change other people. If they do not have a partnership to obsess about, they feel inadequate and less than.

Romance addiction: is a pattern of preoccupation with romantic intrigues and falling in love  with a sequence of ever new lovers

Betrayal bond relationships: is a preoccupation and obsession with relationships to partners who are either hurtful or dangerous (violent, incapable of bonding, immature, addicts). The addicts are unconsciously reenacting the attachments with painful and abandoning relationship in the childhood. This is typical for

Adult Children of Alcoholics. The relationships are very traumatic and full of painful betrayal, dramatic conflicts and passionate reconciliations, but surprisingly stable. Relationship addicts so fear abandonment that they are not able to terminate the betrayal bond relationships.

Co-sex addiction: compulsive attachment  to a sexually addicted partner that is out of control with his own addiction is a special form of relationship addiction. The co-addicted partner is trying to adapt to the addictive behavior of his partner, with devastating consequences to himself.

Sexual anorexia:Sexual anorexia is an obsessive state characterized by mental, physical and emotional avoidance of anything sexual. Like with starving or obsessive dieting one can have a feeling of power and control over compulsive disownment of anything sexual. Obsessively avoiding sex can become a coping mechanism when dealing with stress and other life problems. Like other addictions sexual anorexia has serious consequences. Sex becomes the hidden enemy that must constantly be kept on a safe distance, even for the price of denying an important part of self.

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