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Understand Your Love Style & Learn to Love: Co Dependent Relationship

Understand Your Love Style & Learn to Love: Co Dependent Relationship

A co dependent relationship is one where you are dependent on your partner for happiness, validation and satisfaction.

But aren’t we all dependent on our partners to some extent?

Even in a healthy relationship, you come home to your partner to find comfort, support, someone who will listen to you and love you.

So what crosses the line from a healthy relationship to a codependent relationship? How do you know if you are in a co dependent relationship?

An unhealthy co-dependent relationship often follows an unhealthy pattern for validation and approval. This validation and approval comes in different shapes and sizes.

In this article, we will look into the characteristics of a co-dependent relationship and what to do if you’re in such relationship.

Signs you’re in a co-dependent relationship

A lot of times people confuse a healthy attachment to an unhealthy codependent relationship. Here we will help you figure out the difference between the two with these six warning signs:

1. You look for your partners approval and validation. A LOT.

We all want our lovers to approve of us, to accept us and to love us.

But co-dependent relationships take that to a new extreme. You not only want your partner’s approval, you crave for it.

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More importantly, you are terrified of losing it. And if you feel you are losing that approval, you will go to great length to fix that.

2. You want to fix their problems or want them to fix your problems.

Co-dependent relationships often revolves around one person fixing problems for the other one. The problems can be financial, social and sometimes even legal.

But there is always one person who seems to keep getting new problems and the other person who keeps coming up with a solution for them.

It’s different from a healthy relationship where both partners work as a team to find a solution for whatever problem they face.

The difference here is that a healthy couple see it as a problem for the team. While in a co-dependent relationship, one partner is someone who needs help and the other one keeps coming for the rescue.

3. You are on a roller coaster.

If you are in a co-dependent relationship, there’s a good chance you have moments where your relationship is really good followed by moments where your relationship is really really bad. It’s like you are on a relationship roller coaster. You feel good when you are going up, but then something happens and it feels like you are falling down again.

You feel a lack of stability in your relationship. You crave it but you just can’t seem to find it. No matter how hard you try to fix everything, you just can’t seem to find a neutral ground where you feel safe and secure.

4. You are afraid that your friends and family will find out.

A simple test to figure out if you are in a codependent relationship is to ask yourself what your friends and family will say.

Can you share everything that happened in your relationship with a friend or family? If you did, what will they say? Will they tell you to leave your partner? Are you scared they will think less of you if they found out the secrets of your relationship?

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In most healthy relationship, you won’t be ashamed to share everything with your friends and family. You will probably choose not to, but the thought of them finding out your relationship patterns will not be huge deal.

But if you are in an unhealthy relationship, you might be ashamed of someone finding out the truth about your relationship.

5. Your happiness depends on your partner’s mood.

It’s normal to feel sad if your partner is sad. It’s basic empathy.

But like everything else, co-dependent relationship takes this to a new extreme. Because a co-dependent partner fears losing their partner’s love and validation; they often find it extremely hard to deal with their partner’s sadness or anger; even if it is directed at a third party.

In a lot of unhealthy relationship, any negative feeling usually results in a fight that follows an unhealthy pattern. This unhealthy pattern can be something like this:

  • You will make an attempt to make your partner feel better.
  • The attempt fails, and you feel frustrated.
  • You say something to hurt your partner or do something to get a reaction out of them.
  • Your partner walks to a different room or out of the house in anger.
  • You get more frustrated and do something even more extreme to get a reaction out of them.
  • Your partner gets angry and says/does something to hurt you as well.
  • The cycle continues until you are both exhausted and/or one of you threatens to leave and the other one cries.

6. You talk about leaving every time you fight or argue but can’t go through.

Bad fights in a relationship and occasionally breaking up and getting back together is a common issue.[1]

One of the most common traits of an unhealthy co-dependent relationship is when fights get big, one person wants to leave the relationship and the other stops them and tries to get them back.

It’s a normal thing to happen occasionally in a healthy relationship. But in codependent relationships, it’s usually a pattern. It’s like both of you know the relationship is unhealthy and both of you want to leave, but the fear of losing the person you are dependent on for validation and approval is too much to bear.

In essence, a codependent relationship is based out of fear and unhealthy patterns. These patterns are usually developed in childhood and are carried over to adult relationships. The different dynamics of adult relationships will usually create their own patterns that repeat over and over again.

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What can you do about a co-dependent relationship?

So, you are sure you are in a co-dependent relationship? What should you do now?

Breaking up with your partner certainly seems like a tempting option. That’s probably what a Television relationship expert will tell you.

But it’s not necessarily the best option and it won’t necessarily fix everything.

See, the reason you are in this co-dependent relationship is because you have a co-dependent personality. If you leave this relationship, there’s a good chance you will find yourself in another relationship just like this. People with a co-dependent personality usually end up finding partners who are also co-dependent, albeit in an opposite way.

If you are the type of person who wants to fix problems for validation, you will keep finding people who always have problems and who need other people to fix their problems.

So how do you get out of this unhealthy pattern? Here are a few tips to understand your love style and learn how to love in a healthy way.

1. Figure out what’s common in all your past lovers

Co-dependent people usually end up with the same type of relationship with a few minor differences here and there.

For example, you may find yourself always with a man who is afraid of commitment or you may always end up with a girl who is always nagging and never satisfied with you.

Once you figure out the common issue in all your relationships, it’s time to dig deeper.

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Note: If it was your first relationship, you can just use the signs above to figure out your co-dependent patterns.

2. Find out how and why this relationship pattern gives you validation

This step is a little harder because it requires a lot of introspection and soul searching. You may have to go back to your childhood to figure out why you formed this habit and why you are seeking validation in this way.

At this point, it’ll be a good idea to speak to psychologist or a therapist about it. Having someone with whom you can speak without any judgement can help you process your thoughts and figure out the root cause of the problem.

3. Come up with changes you need to make to avoid the same patterns

This is where your partner comes to play. Once you have understood your co-dependent patterns, you need to speak with your partner about it. This conversation will make or break your relationship.

Final thoughts

Everyone has baggage. The baggage may be from childhood or a past relationship. But you are willing to learn from your past and grow. You are willing to do some serious soul searching to fix the relationship; to be in a healthy relationship.

Is your partner willing to do the same?

If so, then you both can talk and learn together how to fix the unhealthy patterns in your relationship. But if your partner insists on repeating the same patterns again and again, then you will have to break up with them and move on to find someone who is on the same page as you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kevin Thompson

A breakup and relationship expert who writes about reconciliation and becoming a better person

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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