Discussion Topic

A codependent friendship (I found this online)

Posted on 01/25/10, 09:51 pm
A codependent friendship. How did it start? Six years ago I met a person I thought would be my best friend for life. I was going through a huge transition in my life. At the beginning of our friendship Anna and I connected really well and we had a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time together right from the beginning. We started hanging out 2-3 times a week, but I started calling her more and more. By the second year of our friendship we hung out every night and were communicating thoroughly every day. We became inseparable to the point that people thought we were sisters. Neither of us had been in an unhealthy friendship before and because we shared a deeper dimension of life in our friendship (faith and spirituality), we never thought our attachment to each other was unhealthy.

But, over time, I started becoming more manipulated by her and higher and higher expectations were on me. I had the sense that she thought she could meet my emotional needs best. I felt misunderstood when I wanted to go to God first at all. We were both needy and we both fulfilled needs in each other. But, at the same time, we weren't satisfied because there was a void there that we could feel and sense, especially spiritually. We knew that only God could fill that void and fulfill our needs, but we went to each other instead of to God. We began to realize that we were becoming too dependent on each other.

At first there was no way I'd drop her friendship, because she still meant the world to me. But after spending more time with God and reading books on friendship and codependence, we were both seeing just how unhealthy the relationship had become. She didn't see how my other friends were really important to me. She also neglected to value her own family. She cared more about me coming over on a family day more than she cared about seeing her own family. She wanted to spend all her time with me. When she was hanging out with me she would try to control who I hung out with and control how deep my friendship with others would get.
She would ask me what I was doing during the week and made sure I spent the most time with her. She constantly needed re-affirmation that I was number one in her life. Throughout all of this, I didn't realize how manipulative she had become. Looking back I can see how much of what she did had an ulterior motive. She wanted what was best for her, but she was the one who determined that. She figured what was best for me was to build our friendship. She tended to see herself as a needed person in my life. If she wasn't in my life she thought I would be weakened and not grow to my potential.

Often, our friendship was disappointing. When we spent time together, she would expect it to look a certain way and would be angry, sad, or disappointed when it didn't go the way she expected. She would analyze our time together and question if our time together was quality or deep enough. This wore me out and made me anxious. She felt like the end of the world when we couldn't hang out together. We constantly confirmed with each other that we would never be separated. Any time I would panic she would always affirm that "I'll always be your friend, I'll always be there for you." But, you can't make promises like that to a friend because you don't know where you'll be or how you'll change. We made these promises to each other to give each other a sense of stability. She felt rejected basically for who she was and felt very alone. She tried really hard, and was afraid she wouldn't have any friends. She wanted to ensure that she had friends so she was always trying to be in control.

Helping a Person Who Is Codependent If someone in your life is codependent -a spouse, parent, child or friend- your support may be an important part of recovery. Here are some ways you can help. Spouse Begin a dialogue about childhood and messages your spouse might have received from his parents that could have caused shame. You might want to share your own experiences of shame and how they affected you. Friend You might want to get a friend to open up to you by sharing your own insights with him.

Healing shame the key to healing a “wounded self” is to change the distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that result from having grown up in a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive and spiritually hostile environment. Most therapists agree that part of this healing process must involve grief. Grieving for the pain that caused the codependence and for the difficulties you suffered is a difficult but rewarding process. Learning to love yourself requires acknowledging your shame, disowning it, grieving the emotional damage you have sustained and healing the emotional wounds.

Friends can help you spot symptoms, track behaviors and gain perspective. They can also give encouraging feedback and help you make a plan to cope with any future crises. Work on healthy lifestyle choices. Recovery is also about a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular sleep, and healthy eating. Separate your true personality from the mood swings caused by your illness Identify triggers that may worsen your symptoms Improve relationships with family and friends Establish a stable, dependable routine Develop a plan for coping with crises Understand why things bother you and what you can do about them. Address symptoms like changes in eating or sleeping habits, anger, anxiety, irritability or unpleasant feelings

Showing 8 Replies
  • Reply #1 01/27/10  5:08am
    An easy way to see if a relationship is a fulfilling and not draining one is to see how your energy levels are after you spend some time with said person. If you go home feeling drained or tired, most likely this person is draining your energy. I would love for you to read Sylvia Browne's, "Connections." She describes this and how some people are only meant to be in your life for a certain time. It was very eye opening for me and helped me to deal with a lot of past issues.
  • Reply #2 01/31/10  6:53pm
    Wow. I haven't read such great descriptions of co-dependency from the perspective of co-dependent people before. Everything I've read has been written by clinicians. This all makes sense. Thanks, sara
  • Reply #3 02/15/10  10:29pm
    I experienced a codependent aqaintanceship with a neighbor lady back in 2003-- 2006. We started out as friends over innocent cups of tea. Initially we had a lot i common. But she he thought I was her twin sister and continued to stalk me. I had to change residence 6 times that year to try to get away from her. She became wild and drained me. She became chaotic. She had a Jezebel spirit of witchcraft about her. Eventually she stole my ID and used it. It was a nightmare. Police did nothing to help me. I still have small debts & collectors occassionally call. It all still depresses me.
  • Reply #4 02/17/10  1:30am
    That sounds like a nightmare, Dots. Hope that the police catch her. To say that it would be depressing is mild. Hugs, sara
  • Reply #5 02/17/10  12:14pm
    Very enlightening to me, as am just begining. Thanks.
  • Reply #6 03/16/10  7:32pm
    Oh my gosh! This sounds like a friendship I just ended about a month ago! I met this person online and they wanted to spend all their time with me. Like a total idiot I gave them my phone number and address since they lived in the next state from me. HUGE MISTAKE!

    At first it was OK to spend hoards of time talking or emailing so we could get to know each other. We even visited once. Soon though I began to feel like I couldn't breathe. She wanted us to communicate every single day! If we didn't talk on the phone for hours, she wanted to spend hours in chat rooms or emailing back and forth. All my spare time and even some time that was not spare became hers but still it wasn't enough!

    I really liked her as a friend and wanted to keep the friendship but I felt like I no longer had a life of my own. So I tried to gently pull back just enough so I could breathe but when I did she would be so hurt and get angry. She would then dig her hooks in me deeper and on the end of those hooks were suction cups that were literally sucking the life out of me until I didn't feel like I had a life of my own!

    I tried to tell her how my other really close friendships were (especially when it came to the amount of time we spent communicating) but she said that was not what she saw as a close friendship. I did all I could first to try to steer the friendship into a healthy direction but nothing worked. The more I tried to make it a reasonable healthy friendship she would do one or two things; she would dig in or she would sulk and not be there for communication at all. Like an idiot I kept trying by 'making up' but when it looked like there was no way this could possibly be healthy I hated to hear the phone ring and hated getting online. I became actually glad she was not able to 'visit' me more than she did.

    Finally I just pulled back completely and told her I couldn't be the kind of 'friend' she wanted because it was codependent. She came back with pretending that it was her idea to end the friendship and I had no problem with that and let her believe it was her idea. But I still changed my phone number. And will not answer any emails from her. I just hope she doesn't come to my state. I do watch when I am out to see if I see her.

    I really would have liked to be friends with her because we did have things in common on a deeper level and it could have been a really great friendship had it not been for the serious codependency that killed any chance that it could happen. I miss that good part of her deep inside but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can breathe.

    I joined this group because I must still have some codependent tendencies or I would have not allowed things to get so out of hand. I am here to learn how to not let this ever happen again! I felt so awful while in that relationship.
  • Reply #7 03/18/10  6:53pm
    robin, we all have some codependent tendencies so you aren't alone, and i can understand and appreciate your situation and want you to know that it is a pretty common one among codependents so don't feel alone ok? we are all here to learn better ways of relating to others. welcome to the group. please don't hesitate to ask questions or make comments or post whatever you need to :)
  • Reply #8 03/22/10  2:15pm
    robin, Need just put up a small part of an article that is really great, thanks again Need. i pulled a couple bits and pieces that might fit in the situation you were in to help you understand it. the whole article is well worth the read:

    Signs of a Codependent Relationship
    Unhealthy dependencies and repressed anger could be just a few red flags that you are codependent.
    By Jeanie Lerche Davis
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?
    During childhood, the codependent person felt abandoned by a parent, so they learn to fear it, McKee explains. "They are not really good at bonding. They don't know how to bond in a constructive way that has a healthy dependency between two independent people. They don't feel able to express their own feelings, express a difference in opinion, so bonding never quite works."

    Are you trying to control someone? Is someone trying to control you?
    Neediness is a hallmark of a codependent relationship. One person's happiness depends on having the other person right there -- right now. Not letting you hang out with friends, calling frequently to check up on you, having to be with you all the time -- these are controlling behaviors, says McKee.
    "If you get close to someone else, it's very threatening to them," he explains. "They're calling you all the time when you're away: Do you still love me? Are you still there for me? It's a very unhappy way to live."

    Pulling Out of a Codependent Relationship
    Like any problem, you need to understand what's at the root, says David A Baron, MSEd, DO, chairman of psychiatry at Temple University Health System.
    "Often the enabler feels guilty about the situation, Baron tells WebMD. "They care about the other individual in the relationship; [they] know there is a good side to this person. They're hoping against hope that they can go back to the good times -- even when it's blatantly obvious nothing will change."
    At some point, they have to wake up and smell the coffee, he says. "They have to get beyond their emotions and look at the history of behavior. This has been a pattern. When you can get past the emotions and examine facts, write them down. Do a little timeline or a score card of bad behavior."

    http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationsh...

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