As explained earlier, the roles learned by children are usually played out in adulthood. How would each of the roles adopt the role of codependent? It’s a little complicated but I’ll try to simplify as much as I can.
Hero becomes the co-dependent in many situations. She finds a man who ‘needs her’ and begins to help him become all that he can be – whether he wants to change or not. Ironically, the more she focuses on him and not herself, the more he will usually withdraw into the behavior that she wants to change. Remember, the hero is about success, as judged by others. So her partner is a reflection of herself and her choices. Therefore she has to make him perfect, or improved at a minimum.
He will say that he…drinks, uses, works, stays away because she’s always on his case. But in truth, that’s the excuse he uses. Remember, he sees his behavior as the solution to his problems. Her changes are anathema to him, because he’s not interested in giving up his perceived answer.
The hero will continue to work at something until they succeed. So you may see these relationships go on for years and years. Over time, the relationship becomes a dance and if addiction or mental illness is involved, the addict will get worse and the codependent won’t know how to leave. They are totally invested in the relationship, in managing the home, business, finances and life. They won’t know how to live, in extreme cases, without the addict to care for or worry about. It takes a major event to shift her away from him – sometimes she stays until death.
If the codependent is a Rebel, she will hook up with someone worse than she is. Using more, working more, away more. And even though she’s misbehaving, in her mind he’s the troubled one in the relationship, so she has to save him – whether he wants saving or not. In these situations, you have homes with both adults emotionally unavailable to their children who are often left to fend on their own.
The Lost Child does not often become codependent if they are seriously buried in their childhood role. Adults who live from these tenets choose to avoid problems and hide rather than connect with them. If a Lost Child happens to hook up with someone who is focused totally outside of the relationship, they are likely to be happy. They will use the moods and drives of their partner to drive their own emotions, but when the situation gets tough, they will withdraw. Imagine being a child raised by this couple. He’s focused totally on work and she doesn’t have a clue about identifying or meeting her own needs. She was originally attracted to him because he had his own life and left her alone. But as his behavior worsens, she may become bogged down with work and children. She wants to withdraw as well, but is stuck – children have to be fed, clothes have to be washed, groceries need to be purchased. So she is often driven further into the open . This backfires for the children who now have two parents completely withdrawn from the family’s and children’s emotional well being.
The Mascot uses humor to cope with stress. Because stress at home is normal for them, they will usually seek out someone who can create the kind of stress they’re used to. Ironically, this might be a rebel but it can also be a hero. Remember, the hero is going to be focused on success. So their focus may be directed outward from the family. The mascot will not be overt in their attempts to manipulate their partner but they will have a vested interest to keep things light at home and to make it an inviting place. Using humor to mask their own losses, the mascot will try to get the partner to work less and be more available.
If the mascot partners with a rebel, the stress can be enormous. The mascot will smile and laugh and joke their way through life. And always, they are more focused on their spouse than their own needs. It always comes back to keeping things light so he wants to reform/change/care.
I think most of us know women who put up with nasty, violent partners. We wonder why they would tolerate such treatment. The answer is simple (not pleasant, mind you): they are so focused on keeping their partner happy that their personal well being and safety doesn’t factor into the equation. And neither does the well being of their children (although they would argue with both those statements). And don’t forget, over time, the dance of these relationship normalize – it’s how we interact with each other and how we behave in life. So that becomes normal. And the cycle begins again.
Adult children of emotionally barren families all bear the risk of becoming becoming too focused on their partner. Their personality and their resiliency will determine the depth and strength of the codependency, as will their gender and the role they learned as children.
Remember, no diagnosing. This post is intended for education and information – both in your life and in that of your characters. This is fairly complicated, so feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to clarify for you.