Isn’t it wonderful when your relationship is going great? You feel like you are in love and things are just flowing nicely. But what about when the relationship starts to go south? The harmonious evenings cuddling on the couch watching Netflix occur less. You’re arguing more often. You’re complaining to your friends about each other.
Or maybe they start staying out late, while you’re sitting at home lonely and bored. Perhaps she’s drowning her work stress in Adderall and alcohol, leaving you to have to take care of everything. Or, they start pulling away emotionally and you’re freaking out.
It’s not always easy to know if you’re in a codependent relationship, as relationships go through bumps in the road and not every bump necessarily means problems.
Still, it’s a good idea to have an idea of what codependency is and be able to recognize if you’re relationship has fallen prey to it.
A lot of people are talking about codependency these days. It’s almost “hip” to talk about “working on my codependency issues” – except well, it’s not.
The issue is one of dependency. It’s alright to depend on your partner to a degree, and for them to depend on you to a degree. We came to this planet hard wired for relationships. As long as you and the other person are able to keep it at a healthy level, great!
But if you or your partner are mostly relying on the other for a feeling of well-being, worthiness, etc., or if you’re in the habit of over-caring, people pleasing, wrapping your world around your partner – that is considered codependent behavior.
If you’re “enmeshed” (think of peanut butter and jelly all mashed together) where you don’t know where you end, and they begin, that’s definitive of a codependent relationship.
Those who struggle with codependency characteristics tend to pick up such relating traits from childhood.
- Maybe they had an unhealthy attachment with a parent, and this caused insecurity.
- Oftentimes, children will pick up codependent characteristics when they were raised in a home with a parent who had a substance abuse problem.
- Or maybe there was some mental health issues going on, like narcissism or clinical depression.
How was your childhood? Do you think you had a healthy relationship with your mom and dad? Were they a healthy model for you when it comes to attachments?
If you’re wondering if you’re in a codependent relationship, chances are either you’re the one with the codependent characteristics, or you’re with someone who is struggling with some.
Ask yourself the following questions to get a clearer picture of the type of relationship you’re in:
- Is there a constant need for affirmation?
If you or your partner is always in need of attention, affirmation, or reassurance, there’s likely some codependency going on.
- Do you sweep things under the carpet?
Are there some issues going on and one or both of you sweep it under the carpet? Maybe you have no idea how to communicate or you’re scared of conflict. You want to speak your truth, but fear gets in the way, so you repress it. Sweeping things under the carpet in no way means your relationship is clean.
- Do you define yourself by your relationship?
Do you lose all sense of purpose when your partner goes somewhere? Do you feel intense anxiety when you’re alone? Are you “all in, madly and completely in love and nothing else in the world matters?”
I don’t mean you feel part of the relationship; I mean the relationship is EVERYTHING to you and without it you’re nothing.
- Is there intense drama?
Do you have intense highs and really low lows in the relationship? Do you kind of like that roller coaster ride? Breaking up and feeling like a MAC truck hit you and then making up two days later more in love than ever? Only to rinse and repeat a week later?
- Do you sacrifice your own wants and needs to satisfy your partner’s?
Do you know what your wants and needs are? If so, do put them second to your partner’s needs and wants? Do you keep saying you’re going to practice self-care, but don’t?
- Do you have a tough time standing up for yourself in the relationship?
If you can’t say NO when you really want to, this can cause you so much grief and resentment. Or, you may want to tell your partner that they are belittling you in public angers and hurts you, but you’re afraid of what they’ll say or do if you speak it.
Are You In A Codependent Relationship?
Now that you’ve answered these questions, what do you think? Do you see some codependent characteristics in your relationship? In you? In your partner?
If so, don’t be alarmed – but don’t blow it off either. Recognizing such characteristics can be a doorway to learning some pretty valuable lessons about yourself, others, relationships, and life in general. There are some really great books and resources out there that can help you manage and/or overcome codependent ways of relating.
Do some research and see what resonates with you. There is also a support group for those struggling with codependency, called Codependents Anonymous.
We all deserve healthy, solid relationships. They may take dedication and work, but it’s worth it!