Most everyone has heard of co-dependence whether they actually know what it means or not.  Thank you, Intervention.  It seems so much like caring for the other person.  They have such troubles and can’t seem to get out of them, everyone needs support sometimes and so it’s necessary to help them through this time and the next and whatever they need in the future, and there are plenty of reasons why they aren’t grateful, don’t respond appropriately, and get a pass on bad behavior.  It’s a virtue to care and to give and to help, right?  Well, not always.  As in most things, it’s the thought that counts and just because it looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s actually a good thing.

Rule of thumb: emergencies are short term, require stopping everything and focusing all energy on resolving the issue in the short-term, then evaluating the situation to see if further action is necessary.  Long term issues require long-term solutions and include really strong, healthy and normalizing boundaries for all parties, progress markers and milestones, and regular  assessment.  Therefore, Medium term issues require healthy, normalizing but flexible boundaries for all parties and medium term solutions which can adjust as progress is made.    Anyone dealing with a long-term situation who is reacting as if the situation is a first time immediate emergency needs to take a step back.

The first question is, why are you doing this? If the situation and your response lands squarely in one of the categories above, you’re probably doing it because you care about the other person in a healthy way and are giving yourself the right self-care along the way and maintaining your personal life as well as being able to support them.  Congrats!  If your situation is taking pieces of one of those and mixing them with others, then you’ve stepped into co-dependence.  If you have no life of your own and everything revolves around the other person, then you’re drowning in it.

Just because you care doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing. Think Romeo and Juliette, the fall of Troy which created generations of college students having to read that stupid Iliad book (lol), or Stephen King’s Misery.  Too much of thing can be very too much.  Caring less doesn’t mean loving less, but it can lead to better health and well-being for everyone in the long run.