Co-dependency is a behavior that is learned, often starting in early childhood, and it usually leads to unhealthy relationships and dysfunctional family dynamics. This learned behavior can be passed down through generations, and it is often called relationship addiction. The relationships that people who are co-dependent have are usually emotionally destructive, abusive in some way, and completely one sided. This condition was first noticed when researchers studied the families of alcoholics, and co-dependency is learned by watching members of the family unit display these traits. People in a co-dependent relationship are usually suffering from some type of substance abuse or they are a relative or friend of someone who has an addiction or substance abuse issue. Co-dependency can also be found in cases of compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, sex addiction, and other addictions as well.
Co-dependency results in unhealthy relationships for many reasons. The person who cares about the individual with a substance abuse disorder or other problem may unconsciously enable the destructive behavioral pattern. The co-dependent individual may feel a need to be needed, or they may have learned in childhood that their needs are less important than the needs of the alcoholic or addict. Before co-dependency can be addressed and resolved the person must evaluate why they enable certain behaviors and what they need to work on to be emotionally healthy themselves. Co-dependency can be eliminated but this requires the right treatment and a healthy state of mind. Co-dependency can not help build a healthy relationship and the destructive patterns that this condition causes can ruin your life.