How many times have you heard someone say that they couldn’t live without the person they loved? After all, life goes on even if relationships come to an end. For some people, however, there remains far more truth to this castaway statement.
As beautiful as that giddy, intense love may seem to be, there is a firm line between that and co-dependency.
The key differences: codependency VS intense love
The majority of people who fall in love will know when it happens. They experience that surge of butterflies mingled into euphoria in the beginning. As the days go by, these emotions should settle into something calmer yet mostly content.
With co-dependency, the love is often rooted in feelings of low self-esteem, insecurity, and inadequacy. It results in one person losing a sense of themselves and focusing completely on the needs of the other person.
The destructiveness of co-dependency
There are some who would argue that a certain amount of co-dependency is not bad in a relationship. If anything, it is encouraged to an extent. Being with someone means that you should, at times, be unselfish and put the other person’s needs first. After all, that is what love is–is it not?
Furthermore, being with someone means that you do not have to be completely independent. Part of having a relationship is knowing that there is someone by your side.
The destructiveness of true co-dependency is not having elements of trust, self-esteem, and assurance that would accompany a healthy relationship. For the one who is co-dependent, he or she needs to feel needed in order to feel accepted or worthy. This can often be exacerbated by an on-going fear of rejection.
This is not to say that people in co-dependent relationships do not experience some of the benefits of a healthy relationship. Yet, those feelings of security are often short-lived and unstable.
Attachment theory says that as infants, people create much-needed healthy attachments to at least one caregiver which helps them to grow up to be secure in love, affection and be able to handle rejection. Children who did not build any such attachment are more likely to become co-dependent as adults. As a result, they can often end up in abusive relationships which extend to emotional, mental, physical or sexual abuse.
If you think you are co-dependent, here are 5 tips to help
Stop being a people-pleaser
Know that it is not possible to please everyone all of the time. As a result, it is inevitable that someone will get disappointed or upset.
Perhaps your partner wanted to see you but you are sick and in bed. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for declining the offer and focusing on your health instead. Remember that with relationships there are always opportunities to reschedule things.
When arguments happen, just walk away first
Don’t make your happiness depend on whether someone else is happy or not. A person may be thrilled with you one day and have an argument with you the next day. When arguments happen, try not to take them as personally and walk away. Let the dust settle before addressing the issue again in a more rational way.
Focus on yourself and love yourself first
A big issue with co-dependency is the focus is mostly on the other person. Learn to love and embrace yourself because ultimately, this is where true love starts. You can do this by spending more time with those who love you such as friends or family. Or perhaps by adopting a new hobby or do something that you always wanted to try.
Beware of falling into relationships with abusers or addicts
An example would be a person who refuses to leave a partner who constantly cheats. Instead, they convince themselves that they could make their partner change or perhaps make changes within themselves to prevent the cheating.
Frequently, co-dependent people can find themselves in relationships that do not serve their best interests and can easily fall into relationships with abusers or addicts. Know that you can walk away and if you are scared to do so get support from someone who can help you take the first step.
Speak to a therapist: there’s no shame seeking external help
For any underlying issues, it is always good to speak to a specialist who may be able to give you further help. There is no stigma or shame in striving to become the best version of yourself by whatever means necessary.
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