Counterdependency: 12 Signs That You Have It

Counterdependency is when a person fears relying on someone else or builds up a wall to shield themselves from getting dependent on others.

The people who are counter-dependent suffer from trust and intimacy issues and prefer to stay independent instead of depending upon others for their emotional support.

They find it hard to build a strong connection with someone and entrust them with their feelings because they tend to doubt every action of the other individual, which can leave them hurt and devastated.

Counterdependency is a disorder where an individual resists asking others for help and tries to be independent in every situation. It pushes you towards solitude making it hard for you to show your emotional side in front of others.

People act confident and strong even when something is bothering them from the inside which makes them mentally exhausted and frustrated. The loneliness in their life tends to give them anxiety and pressure which as a result make their situation worse.

Self-reliance is indeed one of the most essential prospects of a person’s life in order to be successful and interdependent but this should also not separate you from society and other people around you either.

Counterdependency meaning.

Counterdependency: 12 Signs That You Have It

Counter dependency can be defined as “a state in which an individual shows refusal of attachment with anyone” A condition where a person continuously denies making someone else a part of their life.

These tendencies may arise as early on as from the teenage years of a person, where he/she might stay away from their parents and other associates, be distant from their friends and prefer to spend their life on their terms and conditions. They fear being crowded and push everyone from getting close to them.

The counter-dependents also believe that the relations they make in their life are not long-lasting and are difficult to carry forward.

The common behavioural pattern portrayed from a person suffering from counterdependency include :

  • Creating a wall around them to protect their interests from the world.
  • Having attachment issues.
  • Feeling trapped in any close relationships.
  • Being scared of getting abandoned or rejected.
  • Being anxious and scared to form new bonds.
  • Trying to keep themselves engulfed into their work or other things to avoid socializing.
  • Often complaining about real-life situations.
  • Maintaining distance from friends, family and other associations.

There can be many reasons for this kind of behaviour. Some of these reasons include bad childhood experiences, adult life traumas, relationship failures etc. But one thing is clear, counter dependency does not develop overnight but is instead the effect of long term bad experiences.

Counterdependency has the power to take happiness from a person’s life. People must realise, it is a mental health issue which often leaves a lasting effect on the human brain and therefore should be treated like one.

Like I have mentioned earlier, the first step in the process of healing is spotting the actual problem. Therefore, if you’re uncertain whether or not you’re suffering from counterdependency the below list will help you to clear out this uncertainty from your brain.

There are various signs that might point towards the notion of a person being counter-dependent. If you resonate with these signs, then there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from counterdependency. These signs include :

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1. You tend to push people away without any specific reason.

There is a tendency inside you which makes you push people away from your lives because you feel a lack of connection. You also do not feel comfortable spending more time with people because socializing requires a lot of energy from your side. It appears that you want to get rid of anyone’s company as early as possible.

If you are counter-dependent, you may at some point in time start to doubt your well-wishers because you find it hard to believe or stick with them. If you keep avoiding people even when they want to be with you and form a genuine connection with you, there’s a good chance you’re going through counterdependency.

2. You find it hard to have a long term relationship with your partners.

A couple suffering from counterdependency.
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels

It is usually not an easy task for people suffering from counterdependency to attract people. Why? Simple – They subconsciously push people away from them without even realising it.

If you find it hard to connect, trust, be dependent or believe in the loyalty of your partner then the cause might be counterdependency.

The relationship counter dependents form are often short-lived and complicated because they overthink the whole concept of being in a relationship. Some of the cases of counter-dependent also include exaggerated self-image, manic behaviour, etc.

If the below statements or anything even similar to them are familiar to you in a relationship, then there’s a good chance you’re suffering from counterdependency. These statements might include :

  • I don’t want you to be here.
  • I want to stay alone.
  • I would be happy if you let me do it.
  • Is it okay if I do it alone?
  • I don’t want to hang out with so many people.

3. Traumatic childhood.

In many circumstances, if a child has abusive parents or relatives it restricts their ability to form any kind of new bonds and attachments in their adulthood.

Life after childhood gets complicated and the trust in others is lost. This experience usually comes with a baggage of self-doubt, low confidence and self-esteem issues which become the stepping stone of counterdependency for most of the people.

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4. You are scared of being rejected.

A man scared of getting rejected.
Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels

The fear of rejection makes you avoid getting attached to anyone altogether. This fear or self-doubt is commonly the aftermath of a traumatic or abusive childhood experience.

This same fear of rejection creates a lot of troubles in the life of the individual suffering from counterdependency. She/he might not realise it quickly but they ignore or avoid initiating a conversation or a relationship because they fear getting rejected.

The counter-dependent asks several types of questions to them, for example:

  • Am I good enough for him/her?
  • Do I look good enough to become their friend?
  • What if he/she avoids me?
  • I might get misunderstood.
  • I don’t deserve to be with him/her.

5. You feel suffocated in relationships.

Relationships are just not meant for you because you feel suffocated in them. You distance yourself when you feel that the attachment or emotional connection is getting deep, making you feel anxious or uncomfortable.

If relationships make you feel suffocated instead of providing happiness to you, then it’s again a sign of counterdependency. The suffocation and feeling of unsafety arise because of insecurities the individual has faced in his/her childhood or past relationships.

6. You prefer to stay alone most of the time.

A man being lonely due to his habit of wating to stay alone.
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels

You are more comfortable in your solitude as it gives you satisfaction and extreme comfort.

People suffering from counterdependency often struggle with low self-esteem issues which eventually makes them choose a life with fewer people and less interference.

They tend to avoid judgments from people and try to lead a life on their own terms. The ability to rely on others or accept their actions reduces to an extreme level and instead they create a shell in their lives.A wall that prevents them from making any connections or deep bonds.

The shell is a result of self-esteem issues, attachment issues, disappointments in past relationships, traumas or abuse and is used as a coping mechanism to conceal them from the emotional support which is required by humans at every level in life.

7. You avoid deep emotional connections.

Any relationship that starts to come too close for your liking is usually broken from your side. You avoid any strong connection, reliance on people and support the decision of independence.

The main concept of your life gets disturbed because of such relationships because you are scared of connecting with anyone on an emotional level.

8. You hesitate to open up to anyone.

A woman scared of opening up to her partner due to suffering from counterdependency.
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels

The normal human brain needs someone to share their problems with and have a want for solutions in their hand. Sharing problems makes things easy whereas the counter-dependents prefer to keep their problems to themselves which at the end of the day takes a toll on their mental health.

You feel that if you share your feelings with anyone, they will end up judging you or forcing you to follow up with their thoughts which is the last thing that you want to deal with.

Any kind of help seems like a burden to you. In some cases, it’s a good thing to not believe everyone who comes into your life but not being surrounded by people at all may prevent you from experiencing love.

9. You want to be independent.

The counter dependents are often found longing for independence and security. They usually follow the theory of only trusting themselves and no one else.

Self-Reliance increases with time and it is also considered important at some point of time by the great philosophers but when the radical independence turns into extreme loneliness, the individual also faces many types of health issues.

You must understand, if you cut off from the society or from socializing, you develop a sense of loneliness which eventually is harmful for your mental health

The process and attempt to make things work even if it is not going in the direction where you’d want it to go is a sign that you might be dealing with the counterdependency syndrome.

People suffering from this issue are known to choose the path of independence in situations where others tend to reach out to have the support of their friends, mentors, and elders.

Counterdependents usually get a feeling of being engulfed when someone tries to enter their private space. Independence becomes one of the most important elements in your life.

10. Your loved ones find you distant.

It is very hard to understand a counter-dependent because they are hard to love. They run away from getting pampered or cared for.

When a person suffers from any kind of abuse or betrayal, they find it hard to believe that the world, moreover the people in here can be different and can be loyal to some extent. It gets hard for them to look at the world as a good place because of their past negative experiences.

They tend to act like a wounded animal who was kept in a cage for a long period of time and their mind creates a picture which is hard to edit and impossible to delete. The same picture which is responsible for giving birth to counterdependency in them.

11. You are scared to form new bonds.

A person scared to form new bonds due to the fact that he is a counterdependent.
Photo by PNW Production on Pexels

Forming new bonds is like a nightmare to the counter-dependents. They don’t let strangers in their life.

When someone offers a counter dependent comfort or love, they refuse to accept it and instead start focusing on the end of that relationship. This same thought process is also responsible for their ability to push people away from their life.

They lack the interest and need of someone new in their life that can support or most importantly make them feel wanted. Instead, they form their own world with a limited number of people to prevent themselves from getting hurt.

The counter-dependents tend to ask themselves questions or make statements like:

  • Why would he/she want to be my friend?
  • Is he/she hunting for something that can hurt me?
  • What if he gets too close to me?
  • He/she is too good to be true.
  • There must be some motive behind this concern
  • He/she must need something in return for this behaviour.

12. You tend to run away from various situations of life.

You find it hard to accept the way your life is currently and you run away from it. You, being counter-dependent, always think about the things that will go bad rather than focusing on the things that can go right. Their understanding of life is very complicated and limited at the same point.

If you barely let people come near you in hopes of keeping the trouble from coming to you, then there’s a good chance you are a counter dependent.

They find it hard to believe that life can be beautiful but gloomy at the same time.

Counterdependency finds it hard to go through the ups and downs of life, therefore they’re also very scared to accept the normal downs in their life, for example, business failures, fights with friends, and conversations about your failure. You want to pre-plan things and avoid uncertain situations in your life.

Conclusion – Counterdependency.

If you notice the above changes or signs in your daily behaviour then there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from counterdependency.

It is often caused due to some unhealed trauma that the person went through during the early stages of their life. These unhealed traumas make them a person who never comes out of the shell they form in their life.

According to research, it is a flight from intimacy which is adopted by the individuals to avoid unidentified relations and bonds that are made in their lifetime. It is not a disease but a set of adult behaviour which is a result of bad experiences. The emotions go unshared and un-talked because of the discomfort faced by the counter-dependents.

It is said that intimate relationships are the best place to heal your traumas because the other person who is close to you understands you and makes things easier for you to grasp. There are also many treatments and therapies which make the counter-dependents realize the value of having someone to be dependent on and support you in their lives.

The 12 signs that are mentioned above will give you a perspective of how counter-dependents behave and help you recognize if a person is going through counterdependency, which can be either your own self or someone else around you.

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