An article by Connie Miller defines the concept of co-dependency beautifully, as “an absence of relationship with the self”. By looking outside to others for confirmation of who we are, and that we are OK, we lose contact with ourselves.
An interesting post called Co-dependency: Addicted to the Potential of Love, by Connie Miller, defines the concept of co-dependency beautifully, as “an absence of relationship with the self”. By looking outside to others for confirmation of who we are, and that we are OK, we lose contact with ourselves, whether the self is conceived of in a spiritual way or just as the direct experience of the organism, our thinking, feeling, physical and non-physical being. Depending on others to survive, the person mistakes these connections for love.
Miller writes, “In the dysfunctional family system, love and attention are so inconsistent, that the child becomes addicted to that inconsistency. Love means being addicted to waiting for the feelings of love that comes from outside oneself; that is addicted to the potential of love”.
This “addiction to potential”, a drive to attach to an ideal, shows itself in unsatisfactory relationships, behaviours aimed at attaching to the ideal self, such as eating disorders, or actual addictions to drugs including alcohol. It’s about being in love with “who I would be if…” and “who he would be if he would just…” and then trying to do something to bring that perfect situation about.
Miller goes on to develop many thoughts about the best way forward from the situation of co-dependency. But I would like to stay with the definition, as it seems to so exactly sum up a certain state of suspension which is hard to put your finger on at first, but once you have, is clear as daylight and twice as solid. It is a state which is characteristically not present. When you talk about your love for your partner, you are not really experiencing what you are talking about. You are out there somewhere in the dimension in which he has stopped drinking, stopped shouting, stopped wearing yellow socks. You are somewhere which doesn’t exist.
And so the remedy lies in the act of diagnosis — when I say “I would love myself if I lost two kilos” I can ask myself, what about right now? And in returning to the present moment to ask the question, I come back for a minute, to reality, and when I am not all spread out in plans and goals and a non-existent love object I am here with all my powers available for use. It might only last a second, but it is a start. From that place I can ask not “what do I have to do to be that person/have that situation” but “what do I actually want and need, right now?”
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