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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 August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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