How Can You Tell if You’re Codependent on Your “Aspie?”

Merriam-Webster defines codependence as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly: dependence on the needs of or control by another.”

What are some signs of codependency? If you answer “yes” to the following questions, you’re codependent…

  • Does your sense of purpose involve making extraordinary sacrifices to satisfy your partner’s needs?
  • Is it difficult to say “no” when your partner makes demands on your time and energy?
  • Do you cover for your partner’s social faux pas, substance abuse, or problems with the law?
  • Do you constantly worry about others’ opinions of you?
  • Do you feel trapped in your relationship?
  • Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?

Healthy relationships take a lot of work, and they begin with knowing who you are, what you want, what your higher purpose is. If those things get overshadowed, neglected, or stifled because of your partner, you’re suffering from codependency.

So what is the likelihood that you’re codependent of your “Aspie?” Extremely high. You can’t help it. The moment your “Aspie” leaves something undone, you take over; that’s codependency. The moment your “Aspie” walks away before you’ve finished your sentence, and you let it go or follow him/her around trying to be heard; that’s codependency. The moment you make excuses to others for your “Aspie’s” rude or thoughtless conduct; that’s codependency. The moment you warn your children to avoid annoying their “Aspie” parent or sibling; that’s codependency.

The worst part about codependency is waking up one day to realize that you’ve become so codependent that you’re not sure who you are anymore. You have fully become the structure underpinning the life of another. Your own sense of self and your self-worth are nonexistent. Evidence of you still exists in the form of memories when you used to laugh and be creative, and you could sleep peacefully instead of fitfully. Shall I go on?

To break this devastating cycle, it is important for the codependent to recognize that you count just as much as the person you are protecting. Why are your rights as a person or your health less important than theirs? Secondly, by breaking the cycle of codependence, you are giving back, to the addict, responsibility for their behavior. The first step toward your recovery and theirs, is accepting responsibility for your own behavior and your own life. After all, how can they get better if you do it for them?

Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help, especially regular support from others. In addition to psychotherapy, or marital therapy, you may want to call self-help groups, such as Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous, both listed in your local directory.

Our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup is going host a video conference series, entitled Am I Codependent? I’m looking forward to meeting the real you.

If you prefer to work with me one-on-one, I offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule. You can schedule an appointment on my Contact page.

15 Replies to “How Can You Tell if You’re Codependent on Your “Aspie?””

  1. Oh wow, this: “The moment your Aspie leaves something undone, you take over; that’s codependency. The moment your Aspie walks away before you’ve finished your sentence, and you let it go or follow him/her around trying to be heard; that’s codependency. The moment you make excuses to others for your Aspie’s rude or thoughtless conduct; that’s codependency. The moment you warn your children to avoid annoying their Aspie parent or sibling; that’s codependency.”

    And this: “The worst part about codependency is waking up one day to realize that you’ve become so codependent that you’re not sure who you are anymore. You have fully become the structure underpinning the life of another. Your own sense of self and your self-worth are nonexistent. Evidence of you still exists in the form of memories when you used to laugh and be creative…”

    1. Sometimes I can’t believe I survived all of those moments of codependency and lived to tell about it. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Thank you, Dr Kathy, for so much practical information that can help us see what’s happening and can enable us to make informed choices that can loosen the trap we’ve been in. It’s such a relief even though I continue to deal with ASD daily, but now with some real tools that work to lighten my load.

  3. I am dealing with chronic illnesses and am not able to work and will not qualify for Social Security Disability because what I deal with is not an accepted diagnosis. So I am financially dependent on my partner and that is a huge disadvantage. Codependency is definitely in play here but it’s in a completely different context. Addressing how to navigate this in a future blog post would be extremely helpful. Because right now I am pretty stuck.

    1. You are not alone Erin. Others in our group have chronic illness. It is hard work to stay true to your authentic self when you also need the financial support of others. Share on the forums where others can help.

  4. Well one can’t help but be codependent. Yes l am not the fun relaxed driven goal oriented person l use to be. Just living and being happy co existing in this relationship is enough. Yes ASD is the dominant factor controlling our lives. Yes l rarely get a hug ,he sleeps in another room always has .The relationship is one sided l look after him and our affairs and constantly pick up the pieces because he can not . It’s not his fault he can not process what is going on around him.l have given up blaming him when l realised how his brain works. Mostly l am resigned to living a half life with him. It is like having a disabled child that you care for. He is still brilliant and funny but our interaction can be fraught with misunderstandings as he does not focus nor can he compute the information. Yes l stay silent to avoid conflict as he does not handle it well; he insists on arguing every point has meltdowns and walks away when any issue comes up that he has messed up. Being silent is my way of avoiding this.

  5. I am a disabled veteran with two kids ages 3 and 5. My Aspie has another family with three young adult kids and a grandson…because the first wife dropped dead – I believe. Of the same neglect that I’ve experienced. I filed for divorce 19 months ago and it has gone in circles. I am on my second attempt to move out but even that feels halfway – I feel trapped financially and in very codependent ways. My health frequently deteriorates from the stress. He just leaves. I can’t count on anything. He controls all the money except my disability. I am dying for affection and coordinated problem solving. It is like beating a dead horse. My husband has refused to work for 14 years and he sleeps weird hours in a locked room across the house and drinks and repairs amplifiers. He insists that our house is his and I feel unwelcome. I have compulsively thrift shopped in coronavirus lockdown and created more of a mess.

  6. Autistic mom with an autistic child here to tell you the annoying truths you NT’s don’t want to hear.:
    Advocating for your child’s sensory needs and respecting their social boundaries and abilities is not making excuses for their “rude behavior”. Its explaining to other what your child is going through to people that dont understand.
    Neurotypical people expect children who’s brain are wired differently to behave like them. But god forbid you explain to them how to empathize. No, I do not acquiesce to my child’s every whim, routine, or ritual to avoid a meltdown. But we work together to figure out how to overcome challenges. But we should also be very mindful that sensory pain is real pain(lights up the same receptors in the brain and everything). So respecting your child’s sensory pain is super important.

    1. Good for you. Yes it is a lot of work advocating for an Autistic child. There were many times I was furious with teachers and mental health professionals who did not understand and were even cruel to my daughter. And you make a good point about the pain suffered. Sensory overload is felt as pain by many on the Spectrum. Some people describe it as feeling like their head is on fire. On the other hand, codependency is very different. Codependency is taking on responsibility for others and ignoring your own needs. It is important to recognize yourself in the relationship even as you advocate for your Autist.

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