Repeated Cycles of Codependency

Some people go from one bad relationship to another.  Why move from one negative relationship to another?

No one sets out to be emotionally addicted to another person … to constantly crave love from another person. These cravings were created in childhood because there was “no water in the well” – their “love buckets” were and still are empty… They are truly love-starved. When unloved children receive a rare moment of attention or affection from their unloving parents, the result is both exhilarating and confusing. They feel confused about why they can’t be consistently loved, and they become fixated on how to get that feeling of love again. Rejected children live for any moment of acceptance. Any hint of love becomes an emotional high that temporarily relieves their pain. These children may become adult love addicts because they did not receive enough positive affirmation as children; they might have grown up feeling unloved, insignificant, and insecure; experienced a traumatic separation or a lack of bonding; felt and continue to feel intense sadness and a profound loss at being abandoned; experienced repeated rejection from their parents; felt and continue to feel extreme fear, helplessness, and emptiness

Children with empty “love buckets” create a fantasy about some “saviour” who will remove their fear and finally make them feel whole. But no matter how much love they receive, it’s not enough because they are not whole. As adults, they are still emotionally needy “children” who: believe that being loved by someone – anyone – is the solution to their emptiness; enter relationships believing they cannot take care of themselves; assign too much value and power to the other person in a relationship; have tremendously unrealistic expectations of the other person; try to “stick like glue” to the other person to feel connected; live in fear that those who truly love them will ultimately leave them.

The plight of a love addict would seem without solution were it not for the Lord, who is the only true Saviour, the One who loves them unconditionally and eternally. The Bible gives this assurance in Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Typical examples:

  • A woman appears weak because as a child her emotional needs were never met. She fantasizes about her “knight in shining armor,” who will one day sweep her away into romantic bliss. This love addict constantly yearns for someone to “complete” her as a person. She is drawn to “caregivers,” yet at the same time, she is terrified at the thought of true intimacy.
  • A man appears strong because as a child he was in an enmeshed relationship with his mother. He was his mother’s “caregiver” and surrogate husband. (His father was emotionally or physically absent.) Now, as an adult, he is drawn to women who need to be “taken care of,” but he is terrified at the thought of being smothered again.

When two people are in a codependent relationship, each has a history of feeling both abandoned and controlled. Recognise how afraid you are of being abandoned, and then realise how you resent being controlled. Your relationship is intense and unstable, full of conflict and chaos, with repeated cycles of “come close” and “go away.” Oddly enough, you cannot live peaceably together or apart. You are caught in the destructive ups and downs of codependency and feel you cannot get off the unrelenting roller coaster. But this is not true. When you apply the biblical steps to freedom, it is possible to be set free, because … Matthew 19:26 “With God all things are possible.”