Counter-dependency and the flight from intimacy are a set of avoidance behaviors that protect people from re-experiencing intense emotions related to developmental trauma that happened between the ages of nine and 36 months. These avoidance behaviors are specifically designed to block past memories and emotions from emerging in their present-time relationships. Counterdependency is not a disease. It is a set of protective adult behaviors that are directly related to experiences of neglect, abuse or abandonment during the toddler or “terrible twos” stage of development.
The Flight From Intimacy
Those who flee from intimacy typically create rigid boundaries that push others away. They appear overly independent, act strong, blame others when there is conflict, and they stay very busy. Children who experience these kinds of relational wounds grow up to be adults with a life attitude that says, “I’m right/good and you’re wrong/bad.” Those with this split worldview find it very difficult to trust, to share their emotions and to be intimate with others. They push people away in order to protect themselves from experiencing the pain of being judged and criticized.
Counterdependency: The Flip Side of Codependency
For this reason, counterdependency is often seen as the opposite or flip side of codependency. Rather than being weak and clingy, those with counter-dependency issues appear strong, secure, hardworking, and successful on the outside. On the inside, however, they feel weak, insecure, fearful, and needy. They may function well in the world of business, but are insecure in the world of relationships. Frequently they have poor social and emotional skills, are afraid to get close to others, and avoid intimate situations as much as possible. People with counterdependency issues create a lot of defense mechanisms to prevent anyone from seeing their secret weaknesses, neediness and vulnerability. In short, they put on a good front to prove that they are okay and do not need anything from anyone. These defensive tactics create feelings of loneliness, alienation, and a sense of “quiet desperation.”