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.
Table of Contents
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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