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So much for fun April Fool’s day posts, I guess.
Hi! I remember reading in an ask that you find codependency interesting in fiction. Do you have any favorite ships / examples? I'd love to try reading / watching something with a codependent ship (or platonic ship), and I seem to have similar taste to you in terms of books and shows. :)
Hope you don’t mind me publishing! Codependency tends to be unhealthy and destructive irl but I’m a total sucker for it in fiction, haha, especially since at its heart it’s all about mutual devotion (one-sided dependency tends to be more disturbing because there isn’t that same trust and reciprocation and understanding). I’m using the TvTropes definition here, btw. Examples would be… Sherlock and Watson (in literally any SH-derivative series), as well as sibling ships like the Elric brothers from FMA (Mustang and Hawkeye count as codependent too - one refuses to live without the other), the di Angelo siblings from PJO (more one-sided on Nico’s part, though), the Winchester brothers from SPN, Eren and Mikasa from SNK, Simon and River Tam from Firefly. There’s been some debate about Percabeth being codependent, and I think they absolutely are (Percy a little more so than Annabeth). They have no qualms about dying for each other, or killing for each other. If anything poses the slightest threat to Annabeth, Percy has zero remorse (and even takes pleasure) in eliminating that threat - if it means protecting her, he will let the rest of the world burn. When they’re apart all they can think about is getting back to one another. Annabeth is literally Percy’s tie to life when he bathes in the River Styx. Annabeth is very possessive and jealous when it comes to Percy, as well - she even says he’s the most important thing to her in the world. I don’t consider it a destructive relationship - they clearly respect and understand one another - but I definitely consider it codependent.
… Yo, being mutually dependent is 100% not the actual meaning of ‘codependency’, though.
And using a TV Tropes article (which is not even explicitly describing codependency) as your definition of an actual psychological condition is probably gonna lead to some mistakes, so let’s clear a few things up here.
First of all, despite what the name implies, ‘codependent’ relationships do not usually involve two people who are equally dependent on one another. Codependency is NOT “all about mutual devotion”. If it was about mutual devotion, that would be a much healthier thing.
In fact, ‘codependency’ usually describes a situation where only one person in a relationship is ‘codependent’, meaning that they are emotionally and psychologically dependent on another person beyond the norm in a healthy relationship, have lost their sense of themselves as an individual person, and only prioritize caring for another person and enabling that person’s dysfunction. ‘Codependency’ was originally coined to describe people in relationships with alcoholics and how they acted as enablers to the alcoholic in question. The definition has since been expanded to describe people in relationships with narcissists, addicts, or people with other dysfunctional conditions. Often the non-codependent person in a relationship encourages the codependent’s behavior by being controlling, manipulative, or abusive.
Here is the basic Wikipedia definition of ‘codependency’:
“Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.”
Notice how what they’re describing is completely one-sided and has nothing at all to do with “mutual devotion”?
Now, Wikipedia on its own is not a reliable source, so here is a definition from an article from Psychology Today:
In the codependent relationship, the helper’s emotional enmeshment leads them to keenly feel the other’s struggles and to feel guilt at the thought of limiting their help or terminating the relationship. This motivates them to reduce the other’s suffering (and their own) by continued helping and makes them quick to back off of any limits they set.
Helpers prone to codependent relationships often find intimacy in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helpers are often dependent on the other’s poor functioning to satisfy emotional needs such as the need to feel needed, and the need to keep the other close due to fears of abandonment. Feeling competent (relative to the other) also boosts the low self-esteem of some helpers.
In the codependent relationship, the other’s dependence on the helper is also profound. The other is bound to the helper because the helper’s lengthy aid has impeded their maturity, life skills, or confidence, or enabled their addiction, or poor mental or physical health, making them dependent on the helper’s assistance. Their poor functioning brings them needed love, care, and concern from the helper, further reducing their motivation to change.”
Again, note how the relationship described is explicitly an imbalanced one. One person is obsessed with caring for and enabling the other, while the other person is always on the receiving end of their attention.
Now, note that I am just a lowly Psych student and by no means an expert in codependency, but I think I’ve at least helped paint a somewhat more accurate picture of it here.
Stop defining codependency as mutual dependence. That is a completely incorrect definition, and furthermore encourages the idea that it’s unhealthy to have a mutually supportive relationship with another person, which is completely untrue. Humans need emotional and psychological support from other people. We all do. No matter how ‘independent’ you are. Promoting the idea that it’s dysfunctional to get emotionally attached to someone or want to help them and protect them or even consider them the most important part of your life is wrong and it is doing nothing but creating confusion about what unhealthy relationships actually are.
Two people mutually depending on each other for love and emotional support is completely fine, as long as they still have a strong sense of themselves as individuals and are able to establish boundaries. That is not codependency. That’s just called ‘having a relationship’.
Please do not try to classify couples as ‘codependent’ without having a clearer understanding of what the condition actually is.
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