Is Being “Codependent” Automatically and Always Bad?

We call people “codependent” if they seem to neurotically rely on each other. But relying on others — as in a division of labor, whether in a home or an economy — is not irrational. It’s the ACTIVITIES one is relying on the other for that count.

For an alcoholic spouse to tell the other spouse, “Go pick me up two six packs” is not healthy. For a reasonable spouse to tell the other spouse, “Can you help me out with the bills, the lawn or the housework?” is perfectly fine. That’s what spouses are for.

We tend to lump together expressing dedication to a treasured loved one with enabling bad behavior. Why is enabling automatically and always bad, by the way? Doesn’t it depend on WHAT you’re actually enabling? Giving money to a relative who spends all his time smoking pot or at the casino is enabling unhealthy behavior; it’s wrong and bad for everyone involved. But giving money to help support a struggling medical student who’s also a loved one is enabling a bright and promising future — for a loved one. It’s not wrong or bad. It might even be wrong or bad — for yourself, as well — NOT to help the loved one, to stand by when you could help enable this loved one’s bright future.

I shy away from the term “codependent” just like I shy away from virtually all psychobabble labels. The mental health industry has distorted and misrepresented human behavior for far too long. We need to scrap the B.S., because it’s all bad for us, and try to look at things objectively and honestly.



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