As I spent some time with old friends a few weeks ago, I found myself trying to describe what co-dependency is. It is not an easy thing to describe, because though it has the same underlying theme, it can be a little different for each co-dependent person because of why they found themselves in that situation in the first place. But, here are a few good definitions from Melodie Beattie's book Co-Dependent No More:
"The common denominator is having a relationship with troubled, needy or dependent people, and unwritten or silent rules that prohibit discussion about problems; realistic expectations, such as being human, vulnerable or imperfect; selfishness; trust in other people and one's self; playing and having fun; and rocking the delicately balanced family canoe through growth or change."
"A co-dependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior."
"Co-dependency is a way of getting needs met that doesn't get needs met. We've been doing the wrong things for the right reasons."
These are some good definitions, but there is so much to co-dependency, but to make it simple, this is what I usually tell people: