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90% of People Confuse Codependency with Intense Love. Are You One of Them?

90% of People Confuse Codependency with Intense Love. Are You One of Them?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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