In relationships, it’s normal for each person to have their own strengths and weaknesses. When you find the right partner, you’ll complement each other so you both grow as better people.
However, there is a fine line you can cross where your relationship goes from dependent to codependent. If this happens, it might be unhealthy and detrimental to both of you.
So what is a codependent relationship? Are you currently in one? If so, what can you do about it?
Read on to find out more.
What Is a Codependent Relationship?
As we mentioned above, every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. When people find a good match, their partners will help balance out their weaknesses. In turn, they will help their partner with theirs too.
In a healthy relationship, the strengths and weaknesses are, more or less, evenly distributed. But in a codependent relationship, the scales can be completely tipped, so much so that the relationship becomes imbalanced.
Here is where it can get confusing. Codependent relationships don’t simply have one partner that functions higher than the other like some of the literature might say. In fact, partners who have been together for any considerable amount of time usually have comparable emotional functioning capabilities. What ends up happening is that the codependent person will take on more, to appear like they are overly responsible, and the other will then take on less, appearing to be less capable.
Why does this happen?
Well, it’s all about keeping the status quo of the relationship. Some people need to feel like the caretaker. It makes them feel more in control and better about themselves (even if it’s subconsciously.) Others, like the role of being taken care of, because they are afraid that they will fail or do it incorrectly, if they try.
What Are the Signs of a Codependent relationship?
Here Are Some Signs That Might Mean You Are In A Codependent Relationship
You Feel Compelled to Fix Everything
Your history might drive you to try and fix everything in your relationship (more on this later). If you feel like your partner is a project you’re working on to “fix,” then this is a possible sign of codependency.
You Ignore Your Own Needs
People who are in codependent relationships ignore their own needs and put the needs of others first. If you find yourself doing things like dropping hobbies and pushing aside your emotions, then it’s very possible that you’re behaving in a codependent manner.
In fact, if you feel guilty about devoting time to your own needs, then this is a huge red flag.
You Feel the Relationship Is One-Sided
Do you feel like the relationship would fail without you taking responsibility for everything? Then this is a sign that you might be in a codependent relationship.
You Resent Your Partner
If you’re the one responsible for everything, you might start resenting your partner for this. Unfortunately, most people keep this resentment inside, which can lead to some festering emotions.
Try talking to your partner about how you are feeling to see if you can resolve some of the issues.
You’re Always Sacrificing Your Own Happiness for Your Partner’s
Loving someone means caring about their needs and sometimes putting them above yours. But if you’re always doing this, then that’s not ok.
Do you feel nervous about saying no to your partner? Do you feel like you have to bury your own feelings constantly? This is a sign of a codependent relationship.
You’re Afraid of Rejection
People who are codependent base their self-worth on how people perceive them, especially their significant others. The more people verbally affirm them, the more they feel validated.
But as soon as they reject or criticize them, it can be devastating. People who are non-codependent are able to take rejection and criticism in stride.
You’re Afraid To Do More
You might want to be more responsible, but your partner criticizes you when you do something “wrong.” So instead, you’ve gotten in the habit of not trying.
You Have Low Self-esteem
Because your partner controls most things, you feel like you aren’t as capable as they are. This puts you in a cycle of not doing, which then contributes to less self worth.
You Sacrifice Yourself for your Partner
Just like with a high functioning codependent person, you are also taking a step back so that they can have their needs of control met.
What Causes A Codependent Relationship?
Like with many other mental health issues, codependency is usually a result of learned behavior patterns from childhood.
When kids grow up in an unhealthy home, they think this is normal. However, they also feel like they’re the ones causing issues, which drives them to want to fix things. This can facilitate a people-pleasing need that they continue to have in adulthood.
Therefore, children might grow up to become adults who need control all of time. Or they might become people who would rather leave the decisions up to the people who need control in order to avoid conflict.
It makes for the perfect codependent relationship fit.
What Can You Do if You’re in a Codependent Relationship?
While being in a codependent relationship can certainly be unhealthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up to find happiness. In fact, you can use this as an opportunity to make your relationship stronger!
One of the most important things you can do is have open communication with your partner. Together, you might be able to identify codependent behaviors and work to eliminate them.
However, it can be tough to deal with such complicated issues on your own. So below are some helpful suggestions for you.
Go to Couples Counseling
Attending couples or marriage counseling and therapy can be very beneficial. A professional therapist can act as a neutral third party who can help you navigate through tough issues in your relationship.
They can’t tell you what to do, but they can definitely point you in the right direction. Therapists can assist both of you with earning independence so you’re happier and healthier.
Go to Individual Counseling as Well
Because codependency can hold you back and prevent healthy relationships from forming, you can also go to individual therapy.
In individual counseling, a therapist can help you work through the past and heal from it. It can also teach you how to lean into the discomfort that will come with breaking old codependent patterns. In turn, you’ll become a better person for your significant other. You’ll be able to have a healthy relationship for years to come.
Make Your Relationship Healthier
If you think you’re in a codependent relationship, know that not all hope is lost. By going to couples therapy, you’ll be able to work out the unhealthy parts of your relationship and work on untangling yourself from codependency.
So long as both of you can see that you’re codependent and want to change things for the better, the two of you will be able to overcome codependency and work toward a brighter future together.
Would you like to improve your relationship? Then book an appointment with us today. We can help you navigate the difficult parts
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