Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
Health Today Malaysia|June 2019

Relationships are all about give and take. But very often, we get to know of extremely unhappy relationships where one person is always giving, and the other is always taking—the roles are never reversed.

Many times, situations like these point towards a co-dependent relationship, which is a relationship that is imbalanced and unhealthy mentally. Though it is easy to blame one party over the other, the truth is it takes two dysfunctional personalities to cultivate such a relationship.Counselling psychologist Cathie Wu tells us more.

Hannah May-lee Wong

How would you describe a co-dependent relationship?

A co-dependent relationship is a dysfunctional relationship, where the giving and the taking are imbalanced. The co-dependent partner (the giver) will be overly engaging in time, attention, problem-solving, and decision making for the other, and often there may be a dependent partner (the taker) who is on the receiving, over-reliant end of the relationship.

Often, we would see that excessive giver is driven by an underlying fear of being alone. Therefore, they go out of their way to offer excessive assistance to the other person. The taker may be lacking a level of maturity or skill development, that may be further exacerbated by the dependence upon the other partner. In some circumstances, there may be dysfunctional personality traits, such as those of dependent personality disorder (DPD). Though this is not always the case, it would be a partnership of people with two distinct but seemingly complementary needs, ultimately resulting in a cycle of dysfunctional behaviors.

What is DPD and how is it different from codependency?

DPD is a long-term pattern of general submissiveness, clingy behavior, over-reliance on a significant other, having the constant need to be taken care of, and it would elicit a lot of caregiving from another person.

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