Co-dependency is a behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It refers to an imbalanced relationship pattern where one person assumes responsibility for meeting another person’s needs to the exclusion of acknowledging their own needs or feelings. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.
Co-dependency often affects a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or co-worker of a person suffering from alcohol or drug dependence. Originally, co-dependent was a term used to describe partners in chemical dependency, persons living with, or in a relationship with an addicted person. Similar patterns have been seen in people in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals. Today, however, the term has broadened to describe any co-dependent person from any dysfunctional family. Researchers also found that codependent symptoms worsened if left untreated.