Warning Signs You May Be in a Codependent Relationship
What is Codependency?
A codependent relationship is a relationship in which one person is emotionally or mentally
dependent on another. This can happen in a romantic relationship, but also in a friendship or
even between a parent and child.
The causes of codependency can be complex but often stem from childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, or the absence of a parent. Codependency is an unhealthy form of enabling that can occur in relationships where one partner is overly reliant on the other to meet their needs and validate their worth. This can lead to an imbalance of power in the relationship, where one partner is controlling and the other is overly compliant. Low self-esteem and insecurity can also contribute to codependent relationships.
Are You Codependent? Or in a Codependent Relationship?
People who are codependent often feel like they cannot function without the other person in
their life and become overly reliant on them for emotional support. At the same time, they may feel responsible for the other person's feelings and behaviours and feel guilty if they do not meet that person's needs. For instance, a codependent person might repeatedly ask their partner how they feel and what they need but never express their own wants or needs in return. Or perhaps, a codependent person might start to miss out on important activities that they enjoy in order to stay home and take care of their partner.
This is where boundaries are needed but rarely applied. Codependents are unable to set healthy boundaries, sacrificing their own mental, physical, and emotional well-being for the sake of meeting their partners needs. Even if these needs are unrealistic and impossible to meet.
Relationships that are codependent can often be seen in the way two partners communicate.
One partner might be overly controlling or critical of the other, or one partner might be overly passive or submissive. Resulting in a relationship that has difficulty communicating honestly and openly, and instead relies on manipulation or coercion to get their needs met.
10 Signs and Symptoms of Codependency
1. Being unable to set and respect boundaries
2. Finding it hard to express emotions and needs to others
3. An inability to make decisions
4. Being unable to say no
5. Low self-esteem
6. A lack of trusting yourself and others
7. Not knowing when or how to leave an unhealthy relationship
8. Taking on other people's problems, needs, and emotions as if they were your own
9. Feeling overly responsible for the feelings and well-being of another
10. Depending on others for your own sense of self-worth
How Does Codependency Develop?
Unfortunately, there’s no obvious path. Like most aspects of psychology, the development of
codependency is complex and multifaceted. There are, however, some studies that suggest that low self-esteem may be a contributing factor.
The desire for the approval and love of another may lead a person to sacrifice their integrity in order to gain another’s approval and love. Having the desire to satisfy another person's needs is understandable. It’s human nature to want to help those we love. However, it’s imperative to remember that one's own needs must also be met in order to maintain a healthy, sustainable relationship. Learning how to balance the needs of both partners is essential. In addition, our actions should be in accordance with our own values, beliefs, and desires.
Otherwise, our sense of self-worth and self-respect will eventually erode and cause resentment and conflict. A little give and take will ensure that both sides are happy and fulfilled making the relationship strong and healthy.
If you feel that you are involved in a codependent dynamic, you’ve made the first step of
realization. This is good news! Recognizing the problem is the first step to being able to make a change. Now you can choose to act differently in a way that is beneficial to you. Start by looking inward and observing the patterns you fall into with others. This will make it easier to detach from any negative habits, so you can make small changes in your behaviour that serve your needs. It may not be easy but you can do it.
Let our group of experienced psychotherapists assist you in the process. In addition, working
through co-dependency dynamics with a partner can be extremely beneficial as you can work through the process together.
Please feel free to fill out our contact form and our care coordinator will get back to you shortly. At TPS Therapy we offer free 20-minute psychotherapy consultations to help you find the best therapist for your goals.