One of the defining traits of codependency is being a fixer and a rescuer. Even though a person is withholding, unreliable, emotionally unavailable, cruel or has substance abuse or mental health issues, the codependent thinks,
“Yeah, this person has issues, but I can change them. They really love me. They want to change. I am going to love them no matter what and be a stabilizing influence. I will help them change.”
Instead of seeing the reality of who a person is and making an informed decision about how to proceed with a relationship, the codependent goes into denial. They block out all the undesirable traits and behaviors and develop tunnel vision. All the codependent now sees is the potential in the person before them. They have this fantasy, emerging from the lack of power and control they had as a kid, that This Time It Will Be Different. This time, I WILL get the love I was never able to get in childhood. Unhealed codependents are attracted to their unfinished business, specifically, their unresolved issues with their parents.
This magnetic attraction to those who continue to neglect, abandon or abuse them is called repetition compulsion. Unconsciously, the codependent seeks out people who are just like the parent that neglected, abandoned or abused them. The human psyche seeks to achieve in adulthood what is was unable to achieve in childhood.
The person they are in love with could be a serial cheater, an abuser, a malignant narcissist, an addict, a bank robber, a psychopath… The codependent glosses over all of this and falls madly in love with the fantasy of who this person could be if only they just… Stopped cheating, abusing, being nasty, using or drinking, stealing, lying…
The codependent believes their love, care, and attention will heal the wounded soul of the emotionally unavailable friend/partner/lover/family member… The fact that they are being emotionally abused or neglected in return is ignored, blocked out, or silently endured.
They then make it their job to fix, save or rescue the person from themselves so that they can become whole. The codependent lives in the future, “when things are finally better,” not realizing that the now is a snapshot of the future. The codependent, at this stage, has not yet learned that the NOW moment is what matters. If your needs are not being met NOW, and you’re not addressing that, they will not be magically met in the future when the other person finally “changes.”
The codependent must still learn that you have no control over how another person behaves. You only have control over yourself and how you respond. Whilst in this fix-it and rescue mode, the codependent truly believes that they are being noble and helpful.
After all, “My love, attention and time are going to bring out the best in this person. It’s also a kind of grandioze thought. That can’t be reality. They will then be the friend or lover or source of love that I need them to be.”
While they are focused on fixing, loving and rescuing the other person, the codependent puts themselves in the role of being “better than” or “stronger than” the person they are attempting to heal or save. This is an unconscious defense mechanism adopted by the codependent to keep them from examining their own lives and dysfunctional behaviors.
You see, under the illusion of mutual reciprocity, the codependent is in total denial about the true nature of the status of the relationships in their life. They are not mutual and the codependent’s needs are not being met. In fact, people are often around only for what the codependent gives and does for them. They are not true friends.
All this 1-sided giving creates an illusion of connection. The codependent feels valued through being needed and generous but in reality, they are getting nothing back. They are in an emotional desert, starving for real love and connection. They are so busy supporting others they don’t realize that no one is supporting them in return. They don’t realize that they have abandoned and neglected themselves. In the process, they keep choosing people who abandon and neglect them.
This painful truth goes unnoticed by the codependent until they finally start to heal and know their worth. Instead of calling people out on their shitty behavior, the codependent makes excuses for them, believing things will get better, one day.
How often does the codependent heal and fix a lover, only for the now up-leveled lover to dump them and marry someone else? They do all the fixing but don’t get to enjoy the final product. They go through all the shitty stuff on behalf of someone else.
In truth, the codependent has no one to blame but themselves! They offered themselves up to do the puppy training. They went into denial and refused to see the reality of the situation or the person’s true character. They chose of their own free will to polish the turd.
Taking responsibility for your own choices is so important. Although it can be very tough. To admit to yourself you could have done things differently. Made other choice is a confrontation with yourself But is essential to self development to take back control and be the captain of your own heart!