Codependence/Counterdependence & The Evolution of War!
By: Kathy
November 17, 2013

Last week I talked about enmeshment and how it causes fighting.  Let me explain how codependence and counterdependence play into it creating a volcanic eruption in many relationships!!

If you will remember, enmeshment is only achieved when people give up part of themselves in order to be in a relationship with the other person.  The fighting comes when they are trying to get their needs met through the other person and they can’t.  The needs will fight to get met. That’s when you’ll see a historically sweet, loving, giving codependent go postal on her self-centered, oblivious husband. (please excuse my use of gender this week, but that is typically how it plays out).

Let me explain further . . .

Two people (a codependent and a counterdependent) meet and fall in love.  They enjoy the delicious, inseparable time that they spend together.  They are both giving lavishly to one another.  It feels AMAZING and they both want more.  Let’s understand that a codependent person is more others-focused and a countderdependent person is more self-focused.  Here’s how it plays out . . .

Counterdependent. . .The counterdependent can set his self-focused nature aside for a short while because he wants the girl, but he can only hold it at bay for so long.  His self-focused side will eventually surface, not because he’s a bad person, but because it is the way he has traditionally gotten his needs met.

Codependent. . . The codependent is naturally more others-focused and gets her needs met off of meeting other people’s needs.  The problem is she unknowingly gives with a subconscious expectation of receiving something in return.  Is she wrong to expect something in return?  Not completely. But since this is the only way she knows how to get her needs met, she needs the other person to give something back in return.  It is her go-to method to get her needs met (Give unto others as you would have them give unto you.)

Now watch this . . .The codependent has fallen in love with a guy who is loving and giving, she thinks this is a perfect scenario for her to get her needs met.  She gives and gives and gives to make him happy naively thinking they both get their needs met the same way – by giving to the other.  Once the counterdependent gets the girl, however, he settles in and begins to enjoy the love he’s receiving and reverts back to being more self-focused.  She gives, he takes.  Understand, however, he doesn’t detect there is a problem because the codependent is joyfully giving to him.  She is giving and giving and is building anticipation for the “payout” she’ll get back for all of her giving.  It never comes.  She notices he’s not giving and may make a hint or two about it, but she dives back into “her way” and gives more hoping this time he’ll spring into action.  Her self-focused lover has no idea there is a problem because he feels loved and doesn’t detect her growing anger. He assumes she must be getting her needs met as well.

You can imagine (or maybe you’ve lived) what happens next.  The codependent gets angry (aggressively or passively, or both).  Both are surprised at the level of resentment and anger that has been building silently for years.  Now all the common defense mechanisms enter the picture:  defensiveness, blame, cross-complaining, cut-off, etc. and an all-out war ensues.

Codependence and counterdependence are both unhealthy coping mechanisms and lead to mayhem in a relationship.  It is easy to blame the counterdependent, but the codependent is equally to blame.  It takes two to tango!