Occasionally referred to as “relationship addiction”, codependency describes behaviors, thoughts and feelings that go beyond normal caretaking and people pleasing. While often thought of as a problem in romantic relationships, codependency can occur in many types of associations including friendship, family or work. Codependents often have low self-esteem and are disproportionately preoccupied with other people’s needs while placing a low priority on their own.
People who are codependent sometimes have a strong fear of being alone or abandoned and a controlling desire to be needed. While they usually have the best of intentions, codependents take on the unhealthy and self-sacrificing role of a martyr. Codependent relationships can keep people from living their best lives. Codependency symptoms can worsen if left untreated, so it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional.