104. D/s vs. Codependency

There are times when I wonder if I’m actually codependent.  If you do a search for codependent or codependency it will spit out a great number of results that paint this as an emotional disorder.  Here are a few examples I copied/pasted from the search results:

“Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs.”

“Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as ‘relationship addiction’ because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.”

“If you find yourself making lots of sacrifices for your partner’s happiness but don’t get much in return, you might be in a codependent relationship.” 

I remember when the term codependent first gained popularity back in the 80’s.  It seemed like the new fits all label to describe people who got lost in relationships as well as a way to put them down.

It is strange to try to balance this idea between my submissive and vanilla selves.  During the times that I am single or in the absence of D/s I am a fully capable human being that pursues interests and goals.  I socialize and find things to do.  I fill my time in an attempt to be fulfilled.  I make goals for each day and find meaning in their pursuit.  This sounds anything like codependency.

My submissive self is a different creature.  It exists to make her happy.  It is constantly overflowing with love and finding new ways to express it.  It is odd because those quotes on codependency seem to play off some of the highlights of D/s but then steer them as a bad thing.

I absolutely love the feelings that I get through submission.  I feel good.  I feel useful.  I feel desirable.  I feel like my place is earned on the merits of my actions.  I love her for it… so very much that it hurts.

I think a lot of views of codependency are that the codependent is not aware that they function this way and has no means of existing in a beneficial way in the absence of a relationship.  I also think this is why the vanilla world struggles with the idea of D/s.  As a submissive I am very aware of how this works inside of me.  In my relationships, it is what we agree upon.

I find the complimentary nature of D/s to be sublimely beautiful.  I am the yang to her yin.  I am the moon to her sun.  The roles are well-defined and known at all times.  I sacrifice my freedom, my leisure time, my choices, and my selfishness for her happiness.  In return I receive fulfillment in knowing that I have made her happy.  I feel happy at being given the chance to love and serve her.  I feel satisfaction at enduring the suffering she throws my way.

I find it absolutely beautiful to look into her eyes and see her desire to control, use, and abuse me as she sees fit.  It makes me tingle knowing she uses her creativity to twist up my emotions and make me unable to resist her will.  It makes me feel warm to know that she will correct me and work to sculpt me to her perfect form.  It fills me with love.  It makes me feel loved.

To be honest, I don’t really see what I “give up” as sacrifices.  They are part of the complimentary nature of D/s.  This is what blurs the lines in such a special way.  Do I offer or does she take?  Is she being selfish for her or does that selfishness help us both?  Is she strict because she enjoys it or because it makes me love her more?  Does she make me dependent upon her or was I dependent all along?

I just find the whole thing beautiful.  I love her and offer all of myself.  She loves me and makes use of all that I am.  I don’t want it any other way.

Does this make me codependent or do I just know what I want?


2 thoughts on “104. D/s vs. Codependency

  1. Codependency is indeed alive and well in the world of BDSM. However, there are some very important differences between consensual submission and codependency, although both can certainly co-exist, and will often undermine D/s relationships as much as in vanilla ones.

    A person with codependency issues usually had a dysfunctional relationship with family. This can describe almost everyone, of course, but key types of dysfunction include addictions, neglect, abuse, and mental health disorders. In many dysfunctional families, children are pressured to reverse roles and care for their parents as their parents ought to be caring for them.

    As a result, children from this type of environment become hyper sensitive to criticism and conflict, and do things to try to prevent discomfort. They may become self-appointed caretakers of others, with or without their consent. They may seek out and attract people who need help. They may put on a mask of extreme compliance and politeness to avoid giving even the appearance of offense.

    The thing is, though, these behaviors are not done purely out of selfless altruism. They are means to control others, to prevent them from becoming the critical, neglectful, selfish, and/or violent people their parents were. The hallmark of codependency is the use of passive aggression to control and manipulate others for self-preservation. A codependent person might go out of their way to make sure others are dependent on them, so that they cannot leave. They might make themselves helpless, so that others will feel guilty if they don’t stay around and help.

    What codependents lack, and what they must learn to do in order to recover, is practice self care. Learning to identify and meet one’s own emotional needs is the key. That festering wound, that pit of emptiness inside – that is the result of trauma, and filling it with codependent relationships, sex or serial romances is no healthier than filling it with drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or other self-destructive behavior. Heal the wound, and the need for validation, unhealthy attachment, and control will diminish.

    Serving another person as a consensual submissive is very different indeed, as it involves clear communication and boundaries, whereas codependency relies on manipulation, deceit, and lack of boundaries. I see it all the time, where self-described submissives throw tantrums, demand constant validation, and manipulate their Dominant. This is codependency at work, and until it is dealt with, a D/s relationship will be hard to manage indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the insightful comments.

      This post was inspired by another blogger’s post that views submission in a similar way that I do and then picturing how it might be viewed through vanilla eyes. I’ve come across about a half a dozen subs that seem to be wired this way and another half a dozen Dommes that seem to thrive with subs of this type, namely, consensual non-consent type D/s relationships.

      I definitely have a boatload of trauma that caused major damage to my psyche. At the same time I am fully aware of this damage and how it affects me in daily life and how I feel about myself. While I’ve found ways to rationalize it and fight back some of the negative effects it still manages to haunt me without ever really healing. The traits of it that get close to the boundary of codependency tend to actually be championed by Dommes seeking subs of this type, but it also seems puzzling to people who are not drawn to the same things. At times I ponder if this is good or bad. e.g. I feel like I have to earn love. I feel that if I’m not perfect I will be rejected. I feel like my inherent worth is determined by what other people gain from me. All of these serve as motivation for me to be the best version of my self.

      I’ve never really felt it was similar to the people I know who are/were truly in destructive codependent relationships where manipulation, passive aggression, and guilt-trip mind games reign supreme.

      Lately I’ve been in one of those times where these thoughts spring up more frequently.

      Take care.


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