Low self-esteem, people-pleasing, weak boundaries, dysfunctional communication, obsessions and problems with intimacy are some symptoms of codependency, according to Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT. Other symptoms include painful emotions, denial and reactivity. Additionally, those raised in dysfunctional families are more likely to be codependent. As the symptoms of codependency worsen if left untreated, it is important to seek counseling from a qualified professional if codependency is suspected.
Low self-esteem is the gnawing feeling that one is simply not as good as other people. People with low self-esteem constantly compare themselves with others, notes Lancer. They feel as though no one can ever love them or accept them for who they are. People-pleasing is a tactic used by codependents to increase their feeling of self-worth. By constantly doing whatever others ask of them, they believe they are doing the right thing. This leads to the codependent ignoring his own feelings, wants and desires.
Codependents have weak boundaries when it comes to recognizing other people's space and privacy. They feel responsible for the problems of others and blame others for their own personal issues. They have a difficult time communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs, and often fear being truthful because of the risk of offending someone else. Codependents obsess over relationships as a result of dependence on anxieties and fears. This leads to escapist fantasizing about other people in order to hide from the pain of reality. People who are codependent have extreme difficulty being open and honest in close relationships. The root of this symptom is fear of rejection, explains Lancer.
Children who are raised in homes with parents who emotionally abuse or neglect them, or in homes in which boundaries are not respected, are predisposed for codependency. They are preconditioned by the familiar pattern of trying to earn attention and love from a withholding or distant loved one, explains WebMD. Individuals often seek codependent relationships in attempts to resolve the unrequited caregiver needs from childhood years. Often much energy is expended trying to change the partner in attempts to get these developmental needs met.