Codependency is described as a dysfunctional and one-sided relationship where one person is always on the giving end while other is on the receiving end. One relies on the other person for all emotional and self-esteem needs while the other is responsible for enabling and maintaining this behaviour by continuing the codependency. It can be the result of dysfunctional family dynamics, unhealthy family boundaries, and impaired family relationships. Codependents have poor, weak and blurry boundaries.
Codependents struggle with toxic patterns of his life, but there are signs and symptoms that depict codependence in a relationship, The codependent individual finds it difficult to say no to the partner or other people. They suffer with low self-esteem and saying no to others makes them anxious. They feel that they need to fulfil the needs of the other person to gain love and acceptance from other people.
Many codependents have a compulsive need to fix the issues of others.
Often, they show dysfunctional communication patterns, and they find it challenging to communicate their feelings and thoughts. They always try to put other people first, and that’s why they think that their own opinions and emotions might hurt the other person. Despite having these and multiple other problems, they still don’t find difficulty in their behavioural pattern. They will hold responsible other people for problems in their lives and wander from one job to other or one relationship to others. Recognition of the problem leads to an effective solution.
How to Tell if You’re Codependent
If you are in a relationship that you think maybe codependent, the first step to independence is to stop looking at the other and take a look at yourself. If you honestly say that you agree with the following statements, you may be codependent.
- Love people that you can pity and rescue.
- Feel responsible for the actions of others.
- Do more than your share in the relationship to keep the peace.
- Are afraid of being abandoned or alone.
- Feel responsible for your partner’s happiness.
- Need approval from others to gain your own self-worth.
- Have difficulty adjusting to change.
- Have difficulty making decisions and often doubt yourself.
- Are reluctant to trust others.
- Your moods are controlled by the thoughts and feelings of those around you.
Codependency is often seen in people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), although this does not mean all people with codependency issues also meet the criteria for a diagnosis of BPD.
Healing from Codependency
The good news is that codependency is a learned behaviour, which means it can be unlearned. If you love your partner and want to keep the relationship, you need to heal yourself first and foremost. Some healthy steps to healing your relationship from codependency include:
Start being honest with yourself and your partner.
Doing things that we do not want to do not only waste our time and energy, but it also brings on resentments. Saying things that we do not mean only hurts us because we then are living a lie. Be honest in your communication and in expressing your needs and desires.
Catch yourself when you begin to think negatively. If you begin to think that you deserve to be treated badly, catch yourself and change your thoughts. Be positive and have higher expectations.
Don’t Take Things Personally
It takes a lot of work for a codependent person not to take things personally, especially when in an intimate relationship. Accepting the other as they are without trying to fix or change them is the first step.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break from your partner. It is healthy to have friendships outside of your partnership. Going out with friends brings us back to our centre, reminding us of who we really are.
Get into counselling with your partner. A counsellor serves as an unbiased third party. They can point out codependent tendencies and actions between the two of you that you may not be aware of. Feedback can provide a starting point and direction. Change cannot happen if we do not change.
Rely on Peer Support
Co-Dependents Anonymous is a 12-step group similar to Alcoholics Anonymous that helps people who want to break free of their codependent behaviour patterns.
Those who struggle with codependency often have trouble with boundaries. We do not know where our needs begin or where the other’s end. We thrive off guilt and feel bad when we do not put the other first.