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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

How to Recognize a Controlling Relationship and What to Do About It Taking a Break in a Relationship: When it Is and Isn’t a Good Idea Understand Your Love Style & Learn to Love: Co Dependent Relationship

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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