The term “codependency” gets thrown around, and people lose sight of its meaning. Understanding codependency and recognizing when you or your loved one shows signs of it are critical to healthy relationships.
Signs of Codependency
Each codependent relationship is unique. But the cycle of codependency makes itself known through similar signs.
Difficulty Making Decisions
Feeling as though you’re walking on eggshells, you may feel incapable of making any decisions that could impact you and the enabler. Constantly preoccupied with the desire to please them, you may waste time worrying rather than making a decision.
Waiting for their input seems safer to you.
You want to do more than your share in the relationship. You also want them to recognize how much you’re doing. But, you feel afraid to ask for recognition. Asserting yourself causes you to feel guilty, which may be one of the few emotions you can identify.
Fear of Abandonment
You feel responsible for the actions of your enabler. Therefore, if they abandon you, it’ll feel like your fault. Your whole life is about trying to appease your partner. If they leave, you may struggle to remember your interests and identity.
An Exaggerated Sense of Responsibility
Extreme feelings of responsibility are prevalent for those in a codependent relationship with someone suffering from addiction. You think it’s your responsibility to be there and prevent them from returning to their addiction. But, instead, you think you have to be there to save them from themselves out of a combination of love, pity, and trying to rescue them.
Lack of Trust in Self
You’ve lost track of your identity. As a result, you don’t trust your own decisions. You’re worried more about how the enabler will judge your choices than how they will impact you and your life.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is a form of insecure attachment. The codependent person plans their entire life around pleasing the other person, often called the “enabler.”
A codependent relationship is more than being clingy. It is when one partner needs the other, and the other partner likes to be needed. It’s a cycle because each person’s needs and desires fulfill the other.
The codependent person gets their self-worth from sacrificing themselves for their partner. The enabler is happy to accept those sacrifices.
When someone you love suffers from addiction, you want to do everything in your power to help them recover. This response comes from a place of love. But, when your attempts to help another person derail your life, it’s codependency.
Who can be Codependent?
Any relationship can become codependent. The first step in breaking the cycle of codependency is learning how to identify these relationships.
It is easy for a codependent relationship to blossom. It is effortless for a codependent relationship to form when a partner struggles with illness or addiction.
Knowing how codependency may impact your relationship can help you recognize the signs. You may be codependent if you feel like you use all of your time and energy providing for your partner or feel a sense of guilt for thinking of yourself.
You may even stay in your relationship when you develop an awareness of your partner’s harmful habits. But, on the other hand, you may stay because you stopped doing things that make you feel happy, such as hobbies or being with friends.
Mother/Father and Child (Any Age)
In your childhood, your parents or primary caregivers modeled their attachment style. But, parents sometimes lose sight of caring for their child and expect their child to do the caretaking. As a result, you may have taken care of your parents’ needs instead of your own.
Needy parents teach children that they are greedy or selfish for caring for themselves. Often, this happens when a parent suffers from a type of addiction or lacks mature emotional development.
The cycle of codependency may continue even when the child becomes an adult and leaves the house. It also is likely that that child will pursue codependent relationships as a result.
Much like parents, siblings can enter a cycle of codependency. You learned the traits and habits of codependency from your parents. Therefore, you recreate those roles with each other.
You may be in a codependent professional relationship if you can’t meet your business partner’s expectations. You may even feel anxiety because you try so hard to please your partner. Even worse, you may start to disregard your morals or conscience to make things happen for your business.
Encouraging and supporting friends in a time of need can develop into codependency. You want to help your friend succeed, so you begin to disregard other aspects of your life to show your love and support.
What’s Wrong with Codependency?
It’s difficult to understand what’s wrong with codependency if you are in one of these relationships. Your efforts are out of care and concern for your partner, and you feel altruistic. But, neither person can reach their full potential while in these kinds of relationships. You become a crutch for the other person. It feels comfortable because it’s what you know.
You’re enabling each other’s codependent behaviors.
You’ll both suffer because you won’t grow. The enabler is in a constant state of being taken care of, with little hope of independence.
The codependent person wraps their sense of self-worth in the enabler, causing them to lose sight of who they are and their goals.
6 Steps to Overcome Codependency
Breaking the cycle of codependency is challenging but rewarding. You can take small steps toward codependency recovery daily to help you grow into a healthier and more balanced relationship.
You and your partner are two separate people with different emotions. There needs to be a clear line between you. You can share interests and goals and develop an interdependent or healthy relationship. But, you need to maintain your boundaries.
2. Challenge Feelings
Change self-doubt into self-reliance. Your strength is not dependent on the other person. You have your power. Grow into it, lean into it, nurture it, and celebrate it.
4. Notice Your Judgments
You’re making changes in who you are and your relationship. Pay attention to judging yourself or your codependent partner. Change those negative statements into neutral or positive ones.
5. Identify Your Role and Responsibilities
Delineate responsibilities and roles within the relationship. Take action and set boundaries for what you will do to help your partner. Create time for yourself.
6. Realize it’s Okay to Need Help
Breaking the cycle of codependency may sound easy, but it takes practice, willpower, and determination. You may require support through counseling, therapy, or coaching to help create or maintain your new relationship boundaries.
How BAI Can Help
Once you understand the signs of codependency you may realize that you need help strengthening your relationships. At the Begin Again Institute, we recognize that stopping codependency alone is difficult. Therefore, we offer a unique treatment plan for partners of those with sex or porn addictions. We understand that your codependent attachment style comes from a place of love and concern. We will help you develop new coping mechanisms to help you and your partner thrive.