Counterdependency is not a disease or life-threatening illness. Counterdependency is not an identity. Counterdependency is a set of adult behaviors that are caused by developmental trauma between the ages of 9 and 36 months. This developmental trauma often involves emotional abuse such as shaming and physical abuse such as spanking. These kinds of abuse affect people’s ability to trust others and makes them want to be in control.
Counterdependency is often described as the flip side of co-dependency. Rather than clinging, people avoid relationships and flee from intimacy. Those with counterdependency issues typically see themselves as “one-up” and those with codependency issues as “one-down.” It is interesting that people with counterdependency often pair up with partners who struggle with codependency issues.
Symptoms of Counterdependency
The most common symptom of counterdependency is the avoidance of intimacy in close relationships.
Here are some other common symptoms.
- Difficulty being close to others
- A strong need to be right – all the time
- Self-centered and egotistical
- Refuses to asksfor help
- Expects perfection in self and others
- Seldom appears vulnerable or weak
- Has difficulty relaxing
- Addictions to “upper” activities such as work & exercise, and substances such as caffeine, speed, meth & coke
Our book, The Flight from Intimacy, identifies counter-dependency as the major barrier to intimacy. People with counter-dependent behaviors appear strong, secure, and successful on the outside, while on the inside they feel weak, fearful, insecure, and needy. They function well in the world of business but often struggle in intimate relationships. Being in a relationship with this kind of person can be extremely frustrating.
The Flight from Intimacy shows you how to recognize and cope with counterdependent people. And if you recognize yourself in the description above, this book will help you learn how to change. In it we encourage you to use committed relationships to heal childhood wounds and share our proven ways for using conflicts as opportunities for creating intimate, partnership relationships.
You can watch our YouTube videos on counterdependency here.