Why does Counterdependence arise?

by Anna Kazakova
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Counterdependence, attachment trauma, and contradiction are all different designations for the same phenomenon, which has been occurring more and more frequently lately, especially in large cities. People are distancing themselves from their families and friends. They want no one to interfere in their lives. Relationships are often fleeting and awkward. Single life is considered a privilege. 

So what is counterdependence? How and whether it should be dealt with? How to interact with people who have this problem? - These are questions the answers to which can help understand those for whom counterdependence is not just a word.

But first of all, let's understand the reasons for its occurrence. 

Counterdependence most often develops in adulthood as a result of the events of your childhood. The main causes are:

  • childhood trauma;
  • Parenthood: Lack of parental love or overprotective parenting;
  • psychotypic defense.

Despite the fact that counterdependent people try to avoid any kind of attachment, they often attract increased attention to themselves, including the opposite sex. And they themselves (often unconsciously) willingly enter into relationships, have a desire to establish strong ties, but at the same time cannot afford it. To understand this paradox, we need to delve a little deeper into the subject.

Counterdependence. Who is to blame?

In modern psychology, counterdependence is seen as the rejection of attachments, the denial of personal needs and dependencies. 

In practice, we see adult men and women suffer from some form of negativism inherent in two-year-olds and teenagers who try to temporarily distance themselves from their parents.

Why does this happen? As we have already found out, the reasons are to be found in childhood. Let's take a closer look at them. 

So, the first reason is a childhood trauma. It can be any event that made you believe that other people cannot be trusted and that it is dangerous to need them. Usually these situations are related to parents, or close people. For example, such a trauma could be a parent's divorce, the long departure of one of them, a loved one who has died, or a tragedy affecting your family.

The next and most frequent reason is parental upbringing. Here it is worth considering two extremes: overprotective and insufficient display of love and care. In the first case parents (or one of them) take excessive care of their child, control him or her literally in everything, trying to protect him or her from imaginary dangers. Such parents are actively present in all spheres of children's life, not allowing them to make a step without their supervision. It is as if they are reliving their childhood with the child's childhood without accepting growing up and the need for separation. As a result, the child strives by all means to escape from under the parental wing. Having a fear of getting into this kind of relationship again in the future he consciously (or not) does not allow the formation of a strong attachment to the other person. 

In the second case, the child, on the contrary, did not receive enough parental attention. This often happens in families where parents work very hard, are constantly busy, and are very tired. They provide the child with food and clothing, but do not give them the warmth of their hearts. They hold back their feelings by not paying attention to the children's needs. A child raised in such a family becomes an adult and deliberately avoids contact for fear of rejection. 

There is one more reason - psychotypic protection. It, too, is usually rooted in childhood, but does not depend on external factors.

Appears as a consequence of mental disorders in the child: split personality, schizophrenia, etc. 

Signs of Counterdependence - How do I recognize a counterdependent person?

A counter-dependent person is a person who leads a vibrant, busy life and has a large number of friends and acquaintances. The only problem is that these relationships are not deep, trusting, and likely to be short-lived. 

Thus, one of the main signs of this addiction is the inability to establish a deep relationship with the other person. In addition, there are other signs that identify counterdependence:

  • build relationships easily, but then at some point they stop;
  • relationships make you feel "trapped;
  • have a fear of being abandoned or rejected;
  • can push you away for no apparent reason;
  • may end the relationship without warning;
  • are always busy. They work a lot and have a lot of hobbies (to avoid intimacy);
  • have compassion for people in need;
  • can't relax; 
  • don't ask for help when they need it.

The logic of the person suffering from counterdependence is based on the idea that suffering must be avoided at all costs. They feel that a closer relationship with someone is a problem that carries a great deal of risk.

Such people rarely conflict with others. Conflict requires a certain closeness and affection, and that is what they avoid. To those around them, their attitude can be very strange and incomprehensible. They can easily end a relationship without any prerequisite or explanation. 

They are the kind of person who tells you that they are more focused on success or on their projects than on relationships. They think the latter is not very serious or of little value. They also have a distinct superiority. They feel they are too evolved to be understood by others or that others want to take advantage of their many strengths.

They are usually quite hard on themselves and very strict in assessing their own failures.

These are people who lie not only to those around them, but also to themselves. They pretend to be happy, but in reality they suffer greatly within themselves. They feel emptiness and loneliness, even when they have the opportunity to build positive relationships with others. 

Such people need understanding, affection, and perhaps professional help to break the shell that surrounds them.

What should I do if I'm prone to counter-dependency?

If the statements below, or anything like them, are familiar to you in a relationship, you are probably suffering from counterdependency. 

These are the statements:

  • I don't want you to be here. 
  • I want to be alone
  • I would be glad if you would let me do that. 
  • Is it okay if I do it alone? 
  • I don't want to communicate with so many people.

The fear of being rejected causes you not to get attached to anyone at all. This fear or insecurity is usually the result of a traumatic or abusive childhood experience. 

This same fear of being rejected creates many problems in the life of the person suffering from counterdependence. He/she may not realize it right away, but they ignore or avoid starting a conversation or relationship because they are afraid of being rejected. 

A person with a counterdependency asks himself or herself several types of questions, such as: 

Am I good enough for him/her? 

Do I look good enough to be his friend? 

What if he/she avoids me?

So what should you do if counter addiction is poisoning your life?

Acknowledging that your counterdependent behavior is sabotaging your personal life can be the first step toward healing your fears and making changes that allow you to be closer to someone. It can be a long, slow and painful journey, however, because in the process you have to get in touch with your vulnerability - and let others see it, too. It can help you get through therapy and maintain the relationship while you do it, to help you identify your patterns and identify healthier ways of relating. 

Counterdependence. Treatment

As we have already mentioned, the main and first step is to recognize the problem. Step two is to seek professional help. Today there are many treatments and therapies for counterdependence that make you realize the value of a close relationship with a person.

Psychologists work with counterdependent people in four main areas, the choice of which depends on the individual case.

Working with fears

Learning to confront your fears is an important part of counterdependency therapy. You may be wondering, what kind of fear might a counterdependent person have? Here it is appropriate to remember that counterdependence is also called "fear of intimacy. Counterdependent people are afraid of what they want most. So, a psychologist helps you deal with your fears and learn how to counteract them. He will teach you to question the thinking that keeps you from interacting with others and help you take the first step toward connecting with others. You will soon find that you develop the ability to trust people.

Work on developing positive attitudes

You may have connected your current relationship problems with negative childhood experiences. In this case, a psychologist can help you begin to form a positive attitude in your life in order to move away from the negative aspects of any relationship. The best part is that you can learn to form a positive attitude at any point in your life to see positive changes and get rid of your counterdependency.

Working on the ability to communicate with other people

This would seem to be the best way to deal with counterdependence. Just start communicating with others and establish a healthy addiction. But it's not as easy as you'd like it to be. A psychologist will not just tell you that you need to communicate more with others, but will offer you a workable plan of action that will lead to the desired result.

Work on the development of empathy

Learning to understand other people's feelings and learn to empathize with them, to put yourself in their place is also an important step for counterdependent people. Learning how to do this is sometimes very difficult. But there are steps people can take to acknowledge their biases and move beyond their own worldview. By working with a therapist, you can go step by step in this direction, so that you can finally understand how the people around you feel and thus get rid of the counterdependency.

Of course, you can try all of the methods described above on your own, and it may work. But by contacting a specialist, you will greatly increase your chances of success. In the process of therapy, you will learn certain coping skills that will help you wean yourself off defense mechanisms and get rid of toxic patterns, as well as appreciate the value of having others in your life. The only important thing to remember is that change takes time! Don't expect to be healed after one session with a psychologist. Be patient and you will soon see positive changes in your life.

And lastly, let's deal with two more important issues:

Is it possible to build a strong relationship with a counter-dependent person?

If you find signs of counterdependence in your partner, do not despair. Practice shows that despite all of the above, a person with counterdependence is quite capable of appreciating and loving you. But much will depend on what you yourself are willing to give to the relationship. 

What are the pluses of counterdependence?

Counterdependent people are independent and charismatic. They do not depend on other people's opinions and are often very hardworking. They often become professionals in their field.

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