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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I’m in an unhealthy, codependent relationship with a friend of mine. He relies on me for a lot of material stuff (taking him to the store, taking him out to eat, borrowing money, giving him advice, etc.). I “freely” give it to him because it makes me feel good, like he needs me and I’m helping "save" him. But really I think we are using each other in a codependent way. When either of us try to draw back from the friendship, the other one knows just how to manipulate them into coming back (I use gifts to lure him back; he uses compliments and profuse gratitude).

I am an INFJ and he is most likely an ISFP. He is a recovered alcoholic who quit on his own and has a lot of what I would term “dry drunk” symptoms (irritability, irrationality, narcissism, inappropriate behavior, feelings of superiority). I’ve read that children from alcoholic families (him) and children from abusive families (me) are prone to codependency. Most people dislike him because of his odd and inappropriate behavior, but I make excuses for him and believe that we are both somehow two lost, misunderstood souls. I believe I learned to do this from my INTP mother, who made excuses for my father’s abuse, and my ESTJ father, who blamed my sister and me for inviting the abuse. (To clarify, my friend is not abusive to me; he's just self-centered and irrationally judges everyone else, which reminds me of my father. I don't know about his mother, but I'd bet dollars to donuts she is a "I do so much for everyone else and get nothing in return" self-victimizer, which is the side of me he's bringing out).

Has anyone else experienced a tendency towards codependency in this particular pairing (ISFP/INFJ)? My instinct is to slam the door on it, but, you know, that would be what I always do. I feel like part of my healing this codependent tendency in myself is to put up healthy adult boundaries. Any advice on how to do that is much appreciated.
 

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You're dependent on him because it makes you feel as a good person to help him? Well, you certainly are. Simply leaving a recovering alcoholic to himself is rarely changing his behaviour for the better.
On the other hand it is notoriously complicated to take care of a grown-up man in that situation, perhaps you'll end up wrecking the both of you. You're going to feel as if you need a master in psychology to do it right. I'll encourage you to read all you can about how to deal with someone in that kind of trouble close to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're very right. There's no way I can "fix" him, and I should stop expecting it from myself. As a child, I believed it was my responsibility to control my father's behavior and help show him the right way to behave. But I suppose that's how some children learn to cope with abuse.

I know my desire to help him is not healthy because it comes with feelings of jealousy and neediness. I am sometimes passive-aggressive with him if I feel like he's not giving me enough thanks and praise in return for my gifts. If I could find a way to help him that didn't provoke those feelings in me, I would like to. But right now, until I'm healthy in my own mind, I don't think I can do that for him or anyone else.
 

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You're very right. There's no way I can "fix" him, and I should stop expecting it from myself. As a child, I believed it was my responsibility to control my father's behavior and help show him the right way to behave. But I suppose that's how some children learn to cope with abuse.

I know my desire to help him is not healthy because it comes with feelings of jealousy and neediness. I am sometimes passive-aggressive with him if I feel like he's not giving me enough thanks and praise in return for my gifts. If I could find a way to help him that didn't provoke those feelings in me, I would like to. But right now, until I'm healthy in my own mind, I don't think I can do that for him or anyone else.
It's tragic when an unhealthy person is so often coupled with another unhealthy person instead of a healthy one. It's almost an anomaly if it's not so.

Helping oneself and another person is no easy task. Remember to have compassion for yourself; you're just a woman fighting two uphill battles. You'll lose at times, but someday triumphantly win the war. Please get whatever help you can from outside and do talk things out.

So ehm, what is it that makes you feel dependent on him?
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Your advice made me decide to contact a therapist I used to see for some advice on how to manage this relationship in a healthy way. She helped me a lot in the past and I know she will help me make a good decision here.

We are both musicians and he has helped me a lot in having the confidence to write and perform my music for other people. That's why it was so difficult to me to see that the relationship was unhealthy. I thought he was helping me learn to love myself and I was helping him in his struggles. But I have come to realize that instead of lifting each other out of our situation and moving on, I have become reliant on him for much of my self-esteem as an artist, and he is reliant on me to execute most of his art (I drive him everywhere, help pay for recording, etc.). I think we fear abandonment from each other so we don't encourage each other to go out into the world and be great like healthy artists should. I don't want to lose him as a friend, but I've realized most of my music is now about this unhealthy relationship I have with him!
 

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Wow my partner for 3 years was an ISFP and we had an extremely close, emotionally dependent relationship... it took us a LONG time and many, many, many emotional conversations to fully break up, even after we'd decided it was the right thing to do. We treated each other really well and worked through a lot of issues, but it was just so emotionally INTENSE.
 

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Co-dependency stems from a void inside the beholder. You being from an abusive home and he being an alcoholic may have a void in your perspective heart that isn't healed or made whole. Addictive personality may also be prone to co-dependency, too, the addiction being the void or the thirst. When there's a void, thirst, hurt, people tend to find ways to fulfill, heal, or to satisfy it. It may not have anything to do with MBTI type. It's human nature.

Being in a co-dependent relationship isn't always wrong. Some couples depend on each other to be better as a team. Your case doesn't sound like that. Since you are already expressing doubts about this relationship not being healthy, perhaps you already answered your question.
 

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INFJ/ISFP is a relation of benefits, with the INFJ as beneficiary and ISFP as benefactor. It is bound to be uneven, as the relationship is asymmetrical.

Here is an excerpt on the relation of benefit:

These relations are asymmetrical. One partner, called the Benefactor, is always in a more favourable position in respect to the other partner who is known as Beneficiary.

The Beneficiary thinks of the Benefactor as an interesting and meaningful person, usually over-evaluating them in the beginning. The Beneficiary can be impressed and delighted by their partner's behaviour, manners, thoughts and their ability to easily deal with things that the Beneficiary conceives as complicated. When partners are together, the Beneficiary involuntarily starts to ingratiate themselves with the Benefactor, trying to please them without any obvious reason. In the worst cases this starts from little things and then becomes bigger until the Beneficiary realises the foolishness of their situation.

The Beneficiary can see the weakness of the Benefactor, wishing to help their partner to strengthen themselves. Because the strongest point of the Beneficiary is the weak and unconscious point of the Benefactor, the Beneficiary is convinced that they are able to help. However, when the Beneficiary tries to help, the Benefactor usually refuses the help without any good explanation. The Beneficiary usually listens to every word the Benefactor says but there is no feedback, the Benefactor can not hear the Beneficiary. This may be sometimes unpleasant and even irritating for the Beneficiary.

The Benefactor accepts the Beneficiary as somebody who is lower in rank or social position and often undervalues them in the beginning. The reason for this is that the Benefactor feels that the Beneficiary needs something from them, that special something that only the Benefactor can provide. Therefore the Benefactor naturally finds themselves in an advanced position in respect to the Beneficiary, but are at the same time willing to encourage and take care of the Beneficiary.

Relations of Benefit may appear even and conflict free. Usually it is the Benefactor who initiates the contact. Partners can even feel some kind of spiritual connection between them. However, relations last only as long as the Benefactor has something to give and the Beneficiary has need of it. If this major condition is no longer fulfilled, relations enter quite an unpleasant stage of their development. The Beneficiary may begin ignoring the Benefactor completely or they may start to accentuate too many of the Benefactors inability, provoking arguments and quarrels. Finally, when the Benefactor is in a superior position to the Beneficiary, it can work quite well, but not when it is the other way round
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, it's unhealthy and yes I'm definitely trying to fill a void. One of the hangups I have is that I know he has (or at one point had) romantic feelings for me but won't admit it because I'm married. (My husband is wonderful and I don't have this toxic codependent stuff with him miraculously.) Anyway, I've tried everything to get my friend to open up about his feelings--manipulating him, telling him I had feelings for him too (that I can't act on of course), all in hopes that I could get him to say it. I don't know why I need him to say it so badly. I feel hatred for him sometimes for not being able to say it so we can talk about it. I think I'm convinced it would fill the void in me if he would just say it. I'm so confused and I don't know how to move on without just pushing him out of my life.
 

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... but I've realized most of my music is now about this unhealthy relationship I have with him!
You already know you have an unhealthy relationship with him, so now take actions to correct things. If you use TA both of your are slipping into roles of parent and child intermittently for each other, but what you should strive towards is to interact as adults. You're driving him around everywhere? Stop it. You're helping him pay for things? Stop doing this. Let him become self-sufficient as an individual, then it will get significantly easier to set your boundaries into a healthy zone instead of flooding him and getting flooded yourself.

ISFPs and INFJs are in relations of benefit - INFJ relationship types. People of these two types naturally feel an attraction for each other but that doesn't excuse letting go of yourselves to the point that you need each other to function like a drug.
 
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