They’re unable to set boundaries and fear emotional retaliation and/or rejection, including withholding of sex.Their wives may be very emotional, providing a sense of aliveness to the relationship and compensating for the numbness many codependent men feel inside.Your needs were also ignored if you took on age-inappropriate responsibilities because of an out of control, irresponsible, or immature parent.
Self-control helped you survive, but controlling yourself or others leads to problems later in intimate relationships.
Despite the prevalence of codependent women, I see many codependent men in my private practice.
In the beginning, a man can feel powerful, helping a needy girlfriend or wife and giving her attention or gifts.
He conforms to her expectations, while being assured that she won’t abandon him, but eventually discovers that it’s never enough to satisfy her.
Often codependent men are attracted to women who are needy, demanding, jealous, or critical.
Men become dependent on their wives’ approval, and then feel trapped by their manipulation, demands, or expectations.
One of the more infamous moments was an episode where Lena Dunham’s character Hannah hooks up with an attractive, older doctor played by Patrick Wilson for a weekend-long sex-spree. The Internet lost its collective shit over the idea that someone who looked like Lena Dunham could stand a chance of getting within such a thing is tantamount to sacrilege.
Of course, everyone on the Internet took this in without even blinking, accepting that people are complex and varied in their desires and understanding that attraction is a complicated beast. To judge by the collective outrage over the episode, you would’ve thought that Dunham had murdered Ned Stark while dressed as Hitler and simultaneously shooting kittens out of a cannon that was also on fire.
Often, it’s revealed that he’s fully capable of communicating his feelings, but instead of being assertive and setting healthy boundaries that make it safe for him to do so, he reacts to criticism and demands by fighting back, emotionally withdrawing, or endlessly placating her with explanations and apologies that don’t suffice.
Codependent couples are reactive because they each lack autonomy and are emotionally dependent upon each other.
Problems of closeness and separateness are typical.