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Codependency & Love Addiction

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What is Codependency?

Codependency is, at the heart self-betrayal. It is caring for others to the point of self-neglect; it’s approval seeking hidden under the guise of helping others. Codependency, like other unhealthy behaviors is a coping skill, or the way you survived when you had to choose between survival and authenticity. Codependency also perpetuates a false narrative that you are to blame and you have to control others in order to avoid painful experiences; untreated, it will grow into self-loathing and a punishing inner critic. Codependency is intense shame about your humanity, your needs, and your right to meet them. It’s deep attachment wounding that needs compassion, healing, and kindness. 

Is codependency the fawn trauma response? 

According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “The fawn response involves people-pleasing to the degree that an individual disconnects from their own emotions, sensations, and needs. In childhood, this occurs because they must withhold expressing their authentic emotions of sadness, fear, and anger in order to avoid potential wrath or cruelty from a parent or caregiver. As a result, they turn their negative feelings toward themselves in the form of self-criticism, self-loathing, or self-harming behaviors. In adulthood, an unresolved fawn response can then become the root of co-dependence, depression, or somatic symptoms of pain and illness.” Read more


Symptoms of Codependency

  • Difficulty making decisions in a relationship
  • Difficulty identifying your feelings
  • Difficulty communicating your needs in a relationship
  • Unconsciously valuing the approval of others more than valuing yourself
  • Difficulty trusting yourself and having low self-worth 
  • Extreme fear of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval
  • Unhealthy reliance on relationships
  • Exaggerated sense of responsibility for the emotions & actions of others 

Love Addiction

In broad terms, I think of love addiction as codependency’s sister. They are similar, but not exactly the same. Yet some traits of codependency can make love addiction more likely, especially disconnection from yourself, external focus for approval, and deep fear of abandonment. Because there is little connection to who you are, you may depend on relationships for your self-worth, feelings of value and overall identity. Connections with partners who have strong, decisive personalities are a minefield for you and usually result in more pain rather than less. 

Symptoms of Love Addiction

  • Sexual involvement or deep emotional attachment to people without knowing them. 
  • Fear of vulnerability & intimacy.
  • Keeping your needs secret then blaming your partner for not meeting them. 
  • Fear of being alone, so you have relationship after relationship or you might be involved with several partners simultaneously. 
  • Strong loyalty to relationships where your needs go unmet or are emotionally & physically abusive. You may experience fear of abandonment when you think of ending the connection. 
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  • Use sex as a substitute for emotional connection.

I can help you heal from codependency & love addiction by working to uncover attachment wounding, addressing the inner critical voice, and teaching healthier relationship skills & boundaries. 

Treatment Options:

  • Family of Origin Work is very important for attachment wounding and love addiction. These issues frequently have roots in dysfunctional family systems, family roles & expectations. Recovery means learning healthier relationship skills and uncovering family triggers that may have contributed to the development of relationship dependence.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps to identify negative thought patterns that lead to correlating negative behaviors & feelings. 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a skills-based therapy that teaches practical exercises to help you with core mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and relationship effectiveness. 
  • Brainspotting is an integrative body-based psychotherapy approach especially designed to facilitate healing from emotional wounding that could be contributing to mental health symptoms.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) is a skills-based intervention to reduce negative feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. 
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) & Mindfulness Training helps reduce the impact of anxiety.  Mindfulness is an important tool when in treatment for addiction & mental health. It helps you connect with yourself which strengthens inner awareness, the ability to observe your thoughts & behaviors, and builds resilience. 
  • Essential wellness activities including regular exercise, a nutrient-dense diet, stress management, mindfulness and/or spiritual practices, journaling, building supportive connections, and play.

Codependency & Love Addiction Therapist

Finding the right codependency or love addiction therapist is very important. Be sure to consider training, experience, and whether you feel comfortable & safe with the clinician. Contact me for a free consultation. 

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