It is the human condition, we all need other people.
We are all affected by other people’s words and behavior. The question is whether we have let our natural interdependence evolve into something unhealthy.
I created the following Venn diagram to give a pictorial representation of the relationships between needing to be needed, trying to control your alcoholic or addict's behavior and unhealthy dependence.
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You could ask, how is unhealthy codependence different than how most relationships function? All I can say is that I believe that in a healthy relationship, you want your partner to be healthy, happy and functional in their life, even when you are not there. That doesn’t mean that you can’t feel joy in being with them.
However, your happiness should not depend entirely on their presence and their mood.
In an unhealthy relationship, individuals will tend to make their partners dependent on them.
For instance, by enabling their alcoholic’s or addict’s unhealthy behaviors, an unhealthy person can ensure that their partner needs them.
In these circumstances, the alcoholic or addict receives many subtle cues telling them that it is all right to indulge themselves as long as they let their partner know that they are needed.
Enabling was how I kept my alcoholic addict dependent on me. However, they are so vested in being needed by their partners that they are fearful that if their partner were healthy, they would no longer be needed.
In retrospect I realize that rescuing my alcoholic addict from the repercussions of her behavior fed my ego. Even when she treated me badly, at some level I believed that she couldn’t survive without me to take care of her. At some unconscious level, the needy person will tend to support that behavior that makes them feel needed.
In an unhealthy relationship, when the addict or alcoholic takes steps to dealing with their problems, the codependent will often sabotage their efforts. Many people in alcoholic or addict relationships have an unhealthy codependence upon their substance abuser.
To some degree they need their alcoholic or drug abuser to be dependent on them.