There’s a reason the Uhaul 2nd Date, lesbian stereotype exists: Lesbians attach. Sensitive to the oxytocin and neurochemicals of attachment, lesbians bond faster and more intensely than other couples. Sometimes, those intense relationships develop into lesbian codependency.
What Is Codependence?
Ross A Rosenberg, a psychotherapist and author describes codependency as an “inherently dysfunctional “dance” requiring two opposite but distinctly balanced partners:
- The Pleaser/Fixer (codependent) and the
- The Taker/Controller (narcissist/addict)
Rosenberg further defines a codependent person as one, “….who is giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of the other, that she does not know how to emotionally disconnect or avoid romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic — individuals who are selfish, self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them. Codependents habitually find themselves attracted to partners who are a perfect counter match to their uniquely passive, submissive and acquiescent dance style.”
Characteristics of Codependency
Codependent lesbians have a greater tendency to enter into relationships with women who are emotionally unavailable or needy. The codependent tries to control a relationship without directly identifying and addressing her own needs and desires. Codependent’s always feel that they are acting in another person’s best interest, making it difficult for them to see the controlling nature of their own behavior.
Examples & Characteristics of Codependent Behavior:
- Self-worth based on care taking: Creating a sense of being valued by doing so much for others – hoping that your work will pay off in the end when your girlfriend eventually develops a total and utter dependence on you;
- Obsessing about your girlfriend to the point where she doesn’t have to think about anything because you’ve taken care of it all;
- Doing anything to keep the relationship going, even if it means sacrificing your own needs and wants;
- Caring for and enabling someone who abuses drugs or alcohol
- Denial of personal problems
- Discomfort with receiving attention or help from others
- Feeling undeserving of happiness
- Feelings of guilt or responsibility for the suffering of others
- Internalized shame and helplessness
- Low self-esteem
- Perfectionism and a fear of failure
- Projection of competence and self-reliance
- Reluctance to share true thoughts or feelings for fear of displeasing others
- Sensitivity to criticism
Recovering from Codependency
Recovery from codependency is not an easy process. Like other addictions, it’s a “one day at a time,” type of journey, by which you must retool your understanding of yourself, the world and how you fit into it. Recovery is a process by which you must become aware of your behaviors, learn to accept yourself, give action to those changes you can act upon, and most importantly, boost your self-esteem. Below are a few tips to start you on your journey:
- Understand your thinking & behavior
Deciphering your own thought patterns and behavior is the first step. You developed these coping skills for a reason, but they are now no longer serving you.
- Develop new coping skills
It’s important to develop new skills to use when your thinking begins to wander back to what is familiar. New skills can be developed in a number of ways:
Support Group Therapy: Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) was developed based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step model. Al-Anon, a group designed to support the family and friends of alcoholics, is also centered on helping members break their cycles of dependency.
Individual Therapy: Psychotherapy, cognitive restructuring, reality therapy, and behavioral therapy are all treatment approaches that have proved helpful in recovering from codependency.
- Improve assertiveness and communication
Listening, assertiveness and communication skills are frequently a part of a therapeutic plan. Assertiveness training classes, Techniques of Non-Violent Communication and and coaching can help you become more aware of non-helpful thoughts and behaviors and help you to develop new ways of relating to others.
If you are a lesbian struggling with issues of codependency, you’re not alone. Talk to a friend, a family member or attend a CoDA meeting (there’s a reason they are anonymous). There *is* hope and starting with these resources is a step in the right direction.