1. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    Co-dependent Relationship

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Yume No Okami, Mar 9, 2015.

    I'm going to write one of these, and wanted some more background information before I started.

    My charaters are in a fantasy setting where they can endanger their life and do so often. In the story, my male lead is the female lead's codependent, and has been for about 400 years. I wanted to know the details of an "I'd die for you" sort of codependency, and if it's possible to simply make it appear as a case of unrequited love at first glance.

    Oh, and, if it matters, my female lead is more physically stronger than my male lead, and both of them know this. Their competence levels are pretty much the same.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Without taking the gender related issues into account; look at the relations between a squire and a knight, or a bodyguard and an official person. Ever read books about adventures these people get into? They might be exemplary to some of what you want to achieve. Considering they have to sacrifice for the well being of their superior; they do so out of loyalty, profession or commitment (in case there was a voluntary basis; no slaves or otherwise forced people by some kind of leverage or task that would jeopardize a lot if they refused). I take this example because the inequality of protection still counts when the tables are turned if it comes to physique; which is also a common thing for example for body-doubles who have to be really fit.
     
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  3. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    Ahaha... My genre of choice is urban fantasy... So I'm not familiar enough with either relationship to utilize the analogy to its full capacity. XD

    The relationship is also supposed to be damaging for the male lead, as it's not reciprocated fully, (she's willing to risk her life or even die to save him as well, but not put her life on hold) and he puts her in front of his own well being. He watches her flirt and seduce and date other people for 400 years and stays silent because she says she really likes how close they are. She's not supposed to be malicious, just unaware.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
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  4. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    What age is he?
     
  5. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    In story age they're about 400, but have the appearance and maturity of teenagers. The relationship would have probably become dependent when they were around 50. (Magical folk in this story have eternal youth and thus are judged mainly on maturity, not actual age.)

    EDIT: Thanks, btw. :)
     
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  6. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    So he was born around 50BF (50 years before friendzone).
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel as if I need more information. It sounds like you're saying that you want the characters to be codependent, but as if you also want to know what codependent means. What does it mean to you? Or, why did you choose that term to describe what you want?
     
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  8. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    Pretty much. Guess they meet at 25? Yea, that sounds right. He would've gotten back from Hell at thirteen, and she would've ran away from home at eleven.
    I had a reconciliation scene at the end, after a lot of drama, but couldn't get my female lead to forgive the male lead realistically. I looked online to see what I was doing wrong, and came across codependency, and realized how aptly that fit. (Also matches my theme really well.) Now the male lead is doing the rejecting. I have a basic understanding of codependency, where it's unhealthy and where the codependent puts up with everything, but I'm not sure I have enough info to write it realistically.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I understand it, it's not as simple as the codependent putting up with everything. As I see it, the codependent takes responsibility for the other person's needs and happiness, while having no concern for their own.

    Random scenario rambling:

    Little Joey, age three, wants to go play with his trains. Mama looks sad and glum and says, "I guess I'll just sit here on my own while you play. I suppose I'm not very interesting." Little Joey feels guilty and sits with Mama, and Mama smiles and shows happiness and affection. Over time, he learns that wanting to play with his trains, or wanting to go off on any independent activity of his own, is wrong. He learns that what's important is making Mama smile. He learns that pursuing his happiness is bad, and that the key to being a good person is pursuing Mama's happiness. As he grows up, he chooses his friends, and his school activities, and his college major, to make Mama happy. When Mama doesn't like his girlfriends, or his girlfriends want him to focus on his life with them rather than o Mama, he breaks up with them. Mama has taught Little Joey to be codependent.

    Eventually, grown-up Joey finds a girlfriend who goes with him to Mama's house, and does what Mama wants. Girlfriend does that because it makes Joey happy. Girlfriend isn't happy; girlfriend is miserable with Mama directing all her time, with a boyfriend and later a husband who never makes her a priority. Girlfriend is codependent, too.

    If Mama, when she goes to diner with Joey and Girlfriend, orders the wrong entree and doesn't like it, Little Joey has to fix it for her. It never occurs to Little Joey that Mama could complain to the waiter, or order something else, or in any other way solve her own problem. It never occurs to Little Joey to just enjoy his food and let Mama be an adult and deal with her issue. Joey cannot enjoy his food, not even a little bit, unless he has fixed Mama's problem.

    If Mama is driving Joey crazy, calling him all the time, making demands, and Joey is frustrated and upset and trying to make Mama happy, Girlfriend has to fix that for Joey. It never occurs to Girlfriend that Joey is an adult and that he needs to work out his relationship with Mama on his own. Girlfriend feels all of Joey's pain right along with Joey. She asks all of her friends how she can make Mama be nicer to Joey, and all her friends say, "Um...his mother is crazy. He's going to have to just put his foot down." But Girlfriend knows that they just don't understand. For Joey to put his foot down with his mother, or for Girlfriend to put her foot down with Joey, would cause pain for Joey. And for Girlfriend, that is unthinkable.

    Joey and Girlfriend are codependent. Mama may be a narcissist, or any number of other disorders.
     
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  10. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    So, in the end, it's up to girlfriend to decide if she puts up with all of it, based on what she might get out of it on the other hand. Which is a good way to formulate all kinds of possible shapes codependency can redirect.

    Also, you made the obvious calculation that in the above scenario it comes down to shortsightedness being the mechanism behind their ''putting up with each other's needs and demands"-ness. It does not have to be like that at all. But your simple explanation is very clear to describe what can be done in a relationship in terms of responsibility and not recognizing one's borders.

    I think @Yume No Okami was going for a situation with different conditions for co-dependencies. Consider there can be needs and demands to be met by an enabler who is fit to meet those demands; but maybe wants something bigger in return.

    Before I go deeper, I have to agree with @ChickenFreak that codependency is something that listens to certain definitions. In your story however, the male counterpart in the relationship is codependent of his need of her presence. By being there, she enables his craving for her; he's codependent of her, and willingly and knowingly sacrifices all in his power.

    He's codependent and she's not aware that he needs her, so to speak. When Joey is not aware his mother needs to be happy about various concerns (I'd say she's lazy, but Joey is a gentleman enough to stand up and do things for her in stead of saying inappropriate things like "Get off your fat ass", which might be the wisest thing to say), he's not realizing he'd make his mother unhappy if he didn't meet her demands and the covert manipulation technique behind this codependency is psychologically the cause that he's not realizing in time what his mother does to him.

    In the story with the 400 years lasting friendship; she as well does not know she's the enabler, however, because he simply (I assume) does not want/need to covertly manipulate her, the conditions are different. (Her possibly taking responsibility for his needs is not necessary; the codependent takes responsibility for his own needs by being with her. She's not responsible for that what he feels I guess but still he's codependent).

    Although related, but other then both being a fruit; an apple is not a pear.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
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  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So basically his love for her is unconditional?

    Has her flirting been going on and bothered (damaged) the man for 400 years? It's a long time, maybe even for a magic creature, so I'm wondering how frayed is this guy's sanity at this point?

    Putting your lover in front of your needs all the time is exhausting, even when you feel like you emotionally depend on him/her. Does he also physically and in some other ways depend on her? (like he needs her to protect him from some big burly evil or her magic keeps him alive or some such?). I won't be surprised if your couple fall apart. In fact, I'd welcome it because she sounds pretty awful (unless they've agreed it's ok to flirt with others or seduce them for whatever purposes, but if it bothers him, he shouldn't have agreed on that!). I'm also wondering if your guy is afraid of her because she's stronger. Some women are scared of upsetting their boyfriend for fear of getting beaten, so they continue walking on eggshells and staying in the toxic relationship. I can see that working vice versa, too.
     
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  12. Talisien
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    Talisien Member

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    In my experience of counselling couples there is a natural cyclic rhythm to most codependency - the relationship breaks down at some point. I find it very hard to believe that this could last 400 years unless there was some compelling cultural drive or other binding influences, perhaps a magical binding of some sort.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what you mean by shortsightedness. If you're referring to my use of the phrase "It never occurs to...", I don't mean that the idea that the object of their concern could be responsible for their own happiness slips their mind, I mean that they aren't capable of seriously regarding that as a possibility, aren't capable of really forming the idea. Their friends may have told them a thousand times, "So if she has trouble with X, let her deal with it; she's a grownup," and they still can't act on that advice.

    If Mama is unhappy about X, and Joey doesn't leap in to rescue her, then Mama will be unhappy. And that's unthinkable, unbearable, intolerable. Even if Joey were to start making slooow steps toward letting Mama be responsible for her problems, he might still say, "Well, she'll really be happier if she's a little bit more independent, because sometimes I might have to be away for a day or two..." and his friends will say, exasperated, "Whether she's happier or not is NOT YOUR PROBLEM!" And that's a concept that Joey really has a great deal of trouble absorbing. He has made Mama's happiness his main priority for so long that he can't imagine surviving without it, any more than he can imagine surviving without air.

    So it's not simple shortsightedness, it's a combined inability and unwillingness to see.
     
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  14. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    Ok, sorry for the horribly late reply, but I've been studying all day. :confuzled:

    Hmm... If the female lead is competent, non-manipulative, and embodies diligence, of all things... I was right to do more research here. :)

    I think I'm grasping the concept more now...
    Ok... Relationships are confusing... XD
    The characters have agreed before that they were like brother and sister, only he was lying (he does that a lot) and she wasn't. They do fall apart at the end, where he opens his eyes a bit and knows its best to leave her. He's not reliant on her for her fighting abilities, as he's the mage of their fighter-mage/cleric dynamic, but on her companionship, I think. He's not afraid of her beating him up, but I guess of her leaving. Before the start of the plot, they are each other's only friends, and for various reasons, any attempt he makes at companionship before the events of the story end in disaster. Shes not hindered, however, and I suppose he could see that as she might leave? He embodies humility, so maybe that could be a factor, him having a very low sense of self worth and being insecure and oh god he's the insecure girlfriend
    Oh, cool, first hand (second hand?) experience! (Not that this is good to go through at all, but...) They have the maturity of teens, and don't really have the stigma of the need to grow up like humans (because of eternal youth. Kids (like me?) can take a lot before they figure out something is wrong, so I've heard. I'm hoping that would suffice.
    This. This is the crux of the story. :)
     
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