Have you ever found yourself in a one-sided relationship where you felt as if you were the one doing all the giving, all the caring, while receiving nothing in return? you might be in a codependent relationship.
If this dynamic sounds familiar, it’s likely you’re trapped in the web of co-dependency, a pattern of behaviour where your self-worth and identity hinges on another’s approval.
Co-dependency was first defined nearly 50 years ago to describe unhealthy relationships characterized by excessive control or compliance, often with one partner lacking self-sufficiency and autonomy.
The concept was originally conceived in the context of addiction. It helped to explain “enabling” patterns used to ease relationship tension caused by drug and alcohol abuse.
We now understand that enabling behaviours (such as rescuing a partner, bailing them out, making and accepting excuses for their behaviour, and constantly trying to fix problems) also are common in non-addiction-related co-dependent relationships.
Through constantly sacrificing for others and ignoring their own needs, co-dependents find self-esteem by winning a partner’s approval. Because they lack self-worth, co-dependent people have great difficulty accepting from others.
Co-dependent personalities tend to attract partners who are emotionally unstable. They may find themselves in relationship after relationship with needy, unreliable, or emotionally unavailable counterparts.
How can you tell if your relationship is unhealthy? Here’s a list of common feelings and symptoms associated with co-dependency. You may be in a co-dependent relationship if you identify with any of the following statements:
- You feel as if your life revolves around your partner.
- You cancel plans to accommodate your partner’s whims.
- No matter how hard you try, nothing you do is ever good enough.
- You put their needs in front of your own
- You don’t do anything without checking in with your
- You’re a classic peacekeeper and people-pleaser.
- You’ve found yourself in relationships with addicts, drug users, or have been verbally or physically abused.
- You’re always smiling and try to appear cheery, even when you’re feeling mad or sad.
- You play the role of caregiver in your family or with your partner.
- You feel ashamed about what’s really going on inside your relationship, but keep that secret to yourself.
- You feel trapped in the relationship, but feel that if you did leave, you’d be a horrible person for abandoning your partner
- Your partner’s mood affects your day.
- You feel devalued or disrespected in your relationship.
- Anxiety is the emotion you feel most often in your relationship.
- You spend a lot of time trying to conform or balance your partner’s wishes and preferences.
- You talk about your partner’s issues all the time
- You always want to know what they’re doing and thinking
- partner first
- You have trouble saying no to your partner
If you see any of these signs of co-dependency within yourself or your relationship, you’ve taken an important first step in rewiring dysfunctional patterns.
Continue to educate yourself about the consequences of remaining in an unhealthy dynamic. By learning to identify and label co-dependent behaviours, you can begin to deconstruct the entanglement in your relationship.
Remember, healthy love is about creating partnerships that are inter-dependent and characterized by mutual respect and honesty.
Recovery is possible through emotional healing and redefining the way you value yourself.