Are you in a codependent relationship? Let’s figure out the signs, causes, and how to stop being codependent in a relationship.
What is codependency in a relationship?
A codependent relationship is a type of relationship where one person is completely reliant on the other person for their emotional and or physical needs. For example, taking care of your partner and never letting them do anything for themselves. This can be harmful to both parties involved in the relationship as it can create an imbalanced power dynamic. When you allow another person’s problem to be your own, you have a codependent trait.
The term “codependency” was also defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as 1. “the state of being mutually reliant” and 2. “a dysfunctional relationship pattern in which an individual is psychologically dependent on (or controlled by) a person who has a pathological condition (e.g., alcohol, gambling).”
The term ‘codependency’ was first recognized in the 1940s in the context of conduct displayed by wives of men who misuse alcohol. After that, the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups started to refer to alcoholics’ loved ones as codependents in the 1960s, claiming that because they supported the addict, they too had a disease.
People often confuse codependency with caring. Caring is an emotion that we feel when we want to help someone. It’s natural to feel this way when we see someone we love struggling, but codependency is different.
Signs of codependency in a relationship?
If you ever find any of these in your relationship, it means you are codependent. Codependency manifests itself in a variety of ways, so it’s crucial to be aware of them so you can seek help if necessary. Here are typical signs to look out for.
1. Placing the needs of your partner above your own
If you ever find yourself sacrificing your comfort, time, and everything just to make your partner happy, even if it takes making you feel sad, then you are codependent in your relationship. A codependent relationship is a give-and-take affair. One person does the giving, and the other does the receiving without bothering to reciprocate the love. If you’re codependent, you may find yourself constantly sacrificing your own happiness in order to please others.
2. Feelings of guilt or shame when you assert yourself
Codependent partners find it difficult to say ‘no’ when they need to. If they finally do, they will end up feeling bad for speaking their mind. This happens because they are afraid of hurting the other person. You may also have trouble saying “no” even when you really want to.
3. Difficulty setting boundaries
Another sign you are co-dependent is that you find it hard to set boundaries in your relationship. You are just afraid your partner will start seeing you as being too strict with them.
4. Fear of abandonment
People who have codependency disorder have this fear of being dumped by their partners. As a result of this, they try everything possible to make the relationship work, just to avoid breaking up with their significant other.
Related: Signs of gaslighting in a relationship
5. Enabling or rescuing others from their problems
Codependent people are people pleasers. They naturally like helping others even if it means hurting themselves. If you find yourself in the habit of trying to rescue or give help to everyone who is connected to you, even when you know they don’t deserve it, then you have a codependent character in you.
6. Feeling responsible for others’ happiness
There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to make someone happy. But if you find out that you always feel like your actions or inactions are the reasons why your partner is unhappy, it’s a sign you have a codependency problem.
Related: Signs of a toxic relationship
7. Difficulty expressing your own needs
Codependent people find it hard to say they are in need of something or they need help. It is not because they are proud, but because they don’t want to bother or stress their partner.
8. A need for approval from others
As a couple, joint decision-making is good and necessary in your relationship. But always seeking your partner’s approval in whatever you want to do, no matter how little it is, is not healthy at all.
If you identify with any of these signs, it is important to seek out help from a therapist or counselor who can assist you in working through these issues.
What causes codependency?
There is no one answer to this question as codependency can develop for many different reasons. In some cases, it may be the result of growing up in a dysfunctional or abusive home environment. Others may develop codependent tendencies after being in a long-term relationship with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
How to stop being codependent in a relationship
1. Start by admitting that you are codependent.
The first way to liberate yourself from codependency is to accept that you are codependent in your relationship. This brings you self-awareness and helps you identify the necessary steps to take.
2. Recognize your feelings and behaviors
When you have admitted that you have a codependency trait in you, the next step is to identify how you feel about this trait and your actions. If you often feel like it is your responsibility to carter for others even if it requires you to sacrifice your comfort, then that is where you are having the codependency problem. So, try to access your feelings and thoughts to find out what codependency is like to you.
3. Learn to set boundaries
You need to learn to say no and set boundaries with people. This will help you feel more in control of your life and stop being codependent in your relationship.
4. Communicate your needs.
It is important that you communicate your needs to your partner. This will help them understand what you need from the relationship and equally reciprocate your love for them.
5. Take time for yourself
Make sure to schedule some time for yourself every week. This will help you recharge and focus on your own needs than prioritizing others above yourself.
6. Understand that codependency is a learned behavior
Most codependent partners learned their behavior from others, especially those who are close to them. Even the National Mental Health Association reveals that codependency is a behavior we learn from others. So, you don’t have to feel bad because you are codependent in your relationship. Have this understanding first as we proceed to the various ways to handle codependency.
7. Seek counseling
If you are having trouble breaking out of your codependent relationship, seek counseling. This will help you work through your issues and learn how to love yourself.
Sometimes, you need professional assistance to realize how you can handle the codependency trait. If you think this is beyond your control, consider seeing a therapist for professional help.
8. Learn to accept help from others
Codependents are often the givers in a relationship. Try not to see receiving help from others as something bad, no matter how you think you don’t need their help.
8. Learn to communicate your feelings at any time
Codependent people have the problem of saying ‘No’ when they want to. In other to stop being codependent, you have to learn how to be assertive, especially in things you are not comfortable doing. Set boundaries in your relationship, and seek professional help if it is beyond your control.
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