Like almost anything in life, the first step in fixing something is to understand it. Before you can even come to terms with what is wrong, you have to recognize WHY it is wrong. This rings especially true in codependent relationships. Understanding codependency is the first step towards healing a codependent relationship.
Symptoms of Codependency
1. People Pleasing
An indication that you might be in a codependent relationship is feeling like you cannot say no. Are you constantly saying yes to things you don’t necessarily want to do or don’t even agree with? For people who struggle with codependency, saying “no” doesn’t just make them feel bad; they often get overwhelmed with anxiety and guilt at the mere thought of saying “no.” They care so much about what others think that they lose touch with themselves and what they want to do.
2. Playing the Role of Caretaker or Savior
Do you feel like it’s your duty to make others feel happy? Often times, people who are codependent sacrifice their own happiness. While normal and healthy relationships require sacrifice, codependent relationships take this to the extreme. They never prioritize themselves or their needs and often feel responsible for solving issues and feel guilty if they don’t fix it. Sometimes, a codependent person has an emotional void due to a lack of love and appreciation from the past that they are seeking to fill now. Because of this, they make the needs of the other person more important than their own.
3. You Don’t Do Anything Without Your Partner
We’ll start with the most typical and obvious sign of codependency – the feeling that “you can’t live without” your partner. It’s normal and healthy to spend more time with your partner than you would with anybody else, and each couple has to discover what this balance looks like according to them. However, there is a big difference between wanting to spend quality time with one another and not being able to handle any form of separation from each other.
Going to dinner with your friends or seeing a movie with your mom are both examples of activities that couples can engage in on their own. They don’t require the other to participate. When couples are do things separately, they may be constantly be thinking of the other and not able to enjoy where they are. Often times the need to be with one another all the time stems from self-esteem issues or the desire to control the partner’s behavior. Maybe you don’t want your partner to do anything without you because you don’t trust them when you’re not around. This is a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship.
4. Communication Problems
Communication is a major cornerstone in any relationship. If there are communication problems, there is most likely dysfunction in the relationship. When one partner is too scared to vocalize their needs because of fear of being rejected or feel they don’t deserve to get their needs met, it’s a sign of poor communication and codependency. It is even more concerning when they can’t communicate their wants or needs because they’ve become so far out of touch with themselves. Regardless of the reason, inability to communicate can be a lonely and sometimes painful result of codependency in relationships.
Listed above are just a few of the many signs that you might be involved in a codependent relationship. Don’t be discouraged though, because understanding codependency is the first step to changing the outcome of your relationship. Another important step is to seek therapy. I work with clients to help them heal the issues that caused the dysfunction. When you have a better understanding of what makes a relationship codependent, you can gain the skills necessary to have healthy relationships. It takes a bit of time and effort. Know that you are worth it. I am here to guide and support you along the way.