What Is Codependency, Anyway?

Insights from a survivor

Karmen Jurela
The Masterpiece
Published in
3 min readOct 11, 2020


There are so many books, talks, and papers on codependency that it is easy to lose track, especially since there is no one-size-fits-all definition.

Wikipedia says — Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

It is common knowledge that codependency somehow occurs in families and relationships with one or several addicts. Very often, the media cites the following as the main characteristic of codependency:

A codependent person only feels strong when the addict is and remains weak. They derive their self-esteem from caring for someone more vulnerable, the addicted partner, parent, or child, and by repeatedly patronizing them from the downward spiral.

The codependent, in this definition, is dependent on the addict’s weakness. But I do not share this opinion.

My observation

We, human beings, are addicted to the familiar and to what we have accepted as normal in our childhood. This observation affects all of us, not only people in relationships with addicts.

We fall in love with personalities who behave the way we learned “love” in our childhood, in the first years of our lives.

That is why love relationships often begin exuberantly and then slowly get darker, but that is only one of many possible manifestations.

Some people are addicted to being mistreated after being imprinted for abuse in their childhood. Children of alcoholics are more likely to have relationships with addicted partners as adults. That means that codependent children become codependent adults.

Codependency and love from a cultural viewpoint

Our culture supports the belief that it is normal when love hurts. And only when it hurts, it is real love.

We can observe how destructive this interpretation of love is through the widespread prevalence of obsessive love relationships and alcoholism. These correlations…