A codependent relationship is defined as dependency on the approval of another person for your self-worth and identity. The behavior pattern of a person in a codependent relationship leads them to ignore their own needs, wants, and desires in a relationship, at times making extreme sacrifices to please their partner. For that reason, a codependent person lacks self-sufficiency and independence.
But wait a minute…
Aren’t we always bombarded with the romantic notion of loving someone so much that we just can’t exist without them? Isn’t this a sign of true, deep love?
True, sacrificing our own needs, in moderation, or perhaps, for brief periods of time, is normal and even good for the development of a close relationship. But those in codependent relationships are usually so utterly out of touch with their own needs that it completely hinders the growth of their relationship.
What about you? Do you think you might be in a codependent relationship?
Researchers suggest that if, as a child, you had to suppress your own needs to please a difficult parent, you could much easier fall into the pattern of trying to continuously seek love and care from a difficult person. Quite an unhealthy pattern.
What are some of the signs that identify whether you’re in a codependent relationship?
Am I incapable of finding satisfaction in my life without my partner?
Do I have such an overwhelmingly strong attachment to my partner that I absolutely can’t imagine living without him or her?
Is my answer to what I want in life always limited to what my partner wants?
Do I consistently give support to my partner, sacrificing my own mental, emotional, and physical well-being?
Am I unable to express anything I want to my partner, or even confide in him or her?
Am I frequently anxious, spending a lot of time and energy on 1) trying to change my partner, or 2) attempting to conform to my partner’s every wish?
Do I consistently feel confined, restricted and fearful due to the fact that I always do what my partner wants and not what I want?
Am I incapable of saying anything without constantly worrying if my partner will approve?
Have I observed unhealthy behaviors in my partner, but conceded to staying in the relationship anyway?
Do I often feel a desire for more independence, but fail in my attempts to separate myself because of the conflict it creates inside of me?
Do I love conditionally? Do I allow my partner to be who they are, or do I insist he or she be exactly who I need him or her, to be so that I can love comfortably or feel happy about the relationship?
Do I routinely blame my partner for my unhappiness, even though it’s my own responsibility to find happiness within myself?
Do I complain about my partner to others, but then habitually put the problem onto my own shoulders, saying that I just need to change my own behavior to fix the issue?
Am I treating my partner as if they were a child, although the or she is an adult who is capable of taking care of his or her own needs?
Have others – friends or family – voiced concerns that I’m too dependent on my partner?
To determine if you could possibly be in a codependent relationship, you must be truthful with yourself and answer these questions with complete honesty. Often, it’s not easy to see the signs, because we’re blind to them. Therefore, it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a close friend to help you answer these questions objectively or seek the help of a therapist.
Lori Hunter, LMFT specializes in working with families, co-parenting and those high conflict couples struggling with relationships. She helps couples build intimacy, teaching effective emotional processing techniques that directly improve thoughts and behaviors.