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Last Updated on September 12, 2018

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

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Kevin Thompson

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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