Posted by: Donna Cunningham | May 25, 2011

Boundaries and Friendship — Are You and Your Friend Codependent?

by Deborah Bier, Ph.D. and Donna Cunningham, MSW in Vibration Flower Essence Blog, ©2005

Since all those talk shows and self-help books have educated us about codependency in family and love relationships, you may well be aware of unhealthy patterns of relating where destructive habits like addictions are concerned. No doubt you can spot them in other people right off the bat.

But friends — even our very best friends for life — can also enable one another’s destructive habits and behavior patterns. Pairs of friends can be codependent on one another in ways that keep individuals from growing and being all they can be.

Could this possibly apply to you? For example, maybe your pleasingly plump pal has decided to diet, but you supply her with all manner of excuses for why she shouldn’t start today. AND you bring along a pint of her favorite double chocolate ice cream when you come for supper.

Or, you already have 125 pairs of shoes, and your good buddy knows you’ve maxed out all but one of your credit cards, but she calls to tell you about a fabulous shoe sale at the mall that you two have just GOT to get to before they’re all gone. There are addictions and then there are addictions!

Definitions of Codependency

Wikipedia gives a broad but clear definition of codependency that may alert you to its presence in your group:

“Co-dependency is a condition in which someone exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for a person who is suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol or from other addictive behavior. The co-dependent person often makes excuses for their partner’s self-destructive behavior.”

The National Mental Health Association has a page on codependency as well. They say that:

“Co-dependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as ‘relationship addiction’ because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.”

 Characteristics of Codependency

If you’re starting to think you MIGHT be in a codependent relationship, check out this list of characteristics from Recovery Resources, applying them to any friendship you’re in:

1. My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.
2. My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.
3. Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems/relieving your pain.
4. My mental attention is focused on you.
5. My mental attention is focused on protecting you.
6. My mental attention is focused on manipulating you to do it my way.
7. My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.
8. My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.
9. My own hobbies/interests are put to one side. My time is spent sharing your hobbies/interests.
10. Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me.
11. Your behaviour is dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me.
12. I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
13. I am not aware of what I want – I ask for what you want.
14. The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.
15. My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.
16. My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.
17. I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.
18. My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you
19. I put my values aside in order to connect with you.
20. I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
21. The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.

Flower Essences for Codependency

If it’s beginning to seem like you and a friend or two are codependent, there are flower essences that could be useful. ( If you’ve never worked with them before, download this: flower essence information-ch1.  It explains more about flower remedies, how to use them, and what to expect. )

The list below is abstracted from Jeffrey Garson Shapiro’s The Flower Remedy Book, under the search term Codependence:

 Apple (Masters, Flower Essence Services- Flower Essences, Pegasus) — Healthy self-image, cleansing destructive emotions.

Avocado (Masters, FES, Green Hope, Pegasus) — To become “undependent,” awareness of patterns.

Bleeding Heart (FES, Pegasus) — Possessive/clinging, letting go of emotional dependence.

Buttercup (FES, Pegasus) — Low self-esteem, lack of self-worth in relationships.

Centaury (Bach) — Unhealthy need to serve or please others, accepting exploitations.

Cerato (Bach, Pegasus) — Inability to make decisions, overly reliant on advice of others.

Chicory (Bach, Pegasus) — Neediness, possessiveness, manipulative.
 Fairy Lantern (FES) — Feigning helplessness or over-dependence.

Goldenrod (FES, Green Hope, Pegasus) — Dependence on social approval of others.

Grape (Masters) — Finding love in self instead of expecting others to provide fulfillment.

Mariposa Lily (FES) — Abandonment/insecurity from childhood which distorts present.

Milkweed (FES, Pegasus) — Extreme dependence.

Pine (Bach) — Internalizing guilt, taking blame/responsibility for others’ faults.

Pink Yarrow (FES) — Enmeshed in others’ feelings, can’t identify own feelings.

Red Chestnut (Bach, Pegasus) — Excessive worry/concern for others, over-identification.

Strawberry (Masters, FES, Pegasus) — Dissolves need for approval, cleanses guilt/self-blame.

Sunflower (FES, Green Hope, Pegasus, Alaskan) — Developing healthy sense of ego, feeling radiant/assertive.

Tansy (FES, Pegasus) — Holding back to placate the family system.

Walnut (Bach, Pegasus) — Dysfunctional ties to family system/social standards.

Willow (Bach, Pegasus) — Seeing oneself as a victim, not taking responsibility.

Healthy friendships need care and nurturing to thrive and persist over time. As the years go by, they change and grow in new directions. If you find yourself in an unchanging, controlled or controlling relationship — particularly if this is a pattern for you — try a course of one or more of these essences.

 No, they won ‘t transform your friendships overnight – you’ll have to apply care and time for that to happen. However, they may help you get “unstuck” from unhealthy patterns, open you to change, and help you see better ways of being a friend.

For Professional Astrologers: One chapter of my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers explains codependency, how to see it in an astrology chart, and its implications for practicing astrologers in depth. Download it here: 2014 Ch7 CPA. You’ll find a wealth of articles for professional astrologers on Skywriter, starting here: English for Astrologers–No Astrologese Please.

 More articles about Friendship on Skywriter:


Responses

  1. Donna,
    Have you read Attached. by Amir Levine, MD and Rachel SlF Heller, MA?
    They kind of shake up the co dependency theory out of the water.
    It is based on Attachment Theory and adult attachment styles.
    Just thought you might be interested. I am sure it works out astrologically though.

    Do you do astrology readings anymore?

    • No, I haven’t seen it. Sounds interesting–will have to look into it. No, I’m retired from doing consultations other than through my monthly advice column in Dell Horoscope Magazine. Readers can submit a question by writing to jsherbow@dellmagazines.net with birth information and details about the question. Donna


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