Codependents want love. They seek it above all things. When parents teach their children that they are unlovable, it becomes the mantel they wear throughout their entire lives. It’s the reason behind the void they cannot name and it radiates throughout every adult relationship they will ever have.

Unloved children grow up to be adults, who feel uncomfortable in healthy relationships, where there is kindness, respect and love. It’s a concept they’ve never been taught and it feels entirely unnatural.  When they do accidentally stumble upon someone, who genuinely wants to have a relationship with them, their anxiety has them heading for the nearest exit.

Codependents are hooked on the intense feelings that unhealthy partners bring. They call it a deep connection, or refer to them as their soul mate, but what’s really going on is a type of hormonal addiction. They’re addicted to the feelings these types of people arouse in them. The soaring and crashing of these dysfunctional relationships create the same kind of highs and lows and affects the same part of the brain that a drug addiction does.

A normal healthy man or woman wants to be kind, they want to do loving things, they want to show you, you can trust them, that they are interested in you and that you can count on them to be there. To someone who is used to feeling, not good enough, invisible, unwanted, or unlovable there is a definitive mismatch of emotions going on and a codependent looking for their version of love is going to call this a lack of chemistry.

The Faulty Thinking of a Codependent in Adult Relationships

The way that you have been treated in the past sets your expectations for your future relationships. It’s your normal and when your normal is dysfunctional, your adult relationships can only follow suit. Here’s a list of common beliefs held by codependents in relationships:

I have to work for love: Love in not unconditional. Just being myself isn’t good enough. No one will want me. I’m unlovable, so I have to do more, be more and give more, just to be liked.

I have to be perfect: I can’t let you see all of the ugly parts of me. I’m full of shame. If you saw who I really was you would run for the hills. Everyone knows how unlovable I really am, so I can’t let you in. I have to hide parts of myself from you. I have to keep you at a distance.

You can’t trust people: Everyone that I have ever cared about has hurt me, so I can never let you get too close. Though I say I want it and yearn for real intimacy, I really need to keep you at arm’s length, so that when you hurt me, which is inevitable, it will not destroy me.

There must be someone wrong with someone who wants me:  A Codependent will say to themselves, when someone shows a real interest in them,I am uncomfortable with being treated so well. If you value someone like me, who has little value, then you need to get some standards. Don’t you know I’m nothing? Don’t you know I don’t deserve this? If you want someone like me, then you’ve got problems.”

Although they claim to want love and a real intimate relationship, Codependents are incredibly Emotionally Unavailable. Growing up in a shame-based environment makes them too fearful to be themselves and to let it all hang out. They’ve been conditioned to believe that they have to hide their imperfections. These are those flaws that toxic parents have pointed out over and over again, throughout their lives.  They are more comfortable keeping their relationships at a distance and this is one reason why relationships with other Emotionally Unavailable people, who are also comfortable at a distance, seem to fit them best.

When you don’t value yourself, you give that away in words, deeds and other nonverbal cues. Emotional Predators read people better than anyone and can pick out their target with phenomenal ease. The key to breaking free of these toxic relationships and becoming Emotionally Available is self-love.

Having self-love means that you do right by you, that you have standards and expectations of how you want to be treated, that you walk away from things that don’t serve you, that you do what’s in you best interest, and that you believe that are worthy and deserving of great things in life.

Self-love is a choice that you make. A choice that you keep on making, every day.   When you have grown up never knowing what it is or what it looks like, it will be a struggle at first, but when you realize that it’s not something that you can get from others and that it is yours for the taking, you must actively pursue its attainment.

You become emotionally available by learning how to do what’s right for you, by owning your power, by accepting yourself fully as you are, even the parts you don’t like, by letting people see your flaws and allowing them in and by learning to trust yourself, that you’ll walk away from anything that isn’t good for you.

It’s a shift in mindset and once that button turns on, life as you know it will never be the same. You will no longer be interested in people that don’t treat you well, you will do things that are good for your mind, body and spirit, just because you deserve it and you will develop the knowledge that you just being you, is good enough and you’ll feel more confident showing it to your most intimates. The more you trust yourself the more confident you will feel and letting people in won’t be so anxiety provoking, because when you love you, there is nothing to fear.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.