Popular culture does us no favors when it comes to relationships. We’re raised on “love at first sight” and “happily ever after.” This soon morphs into “soul mates” and couples “completing” each other. The sentiments might be sincere, but the outcomes can be dysfunctional. The thousands of love songs about being inseparable may have launched just as many codependent connections.
Generally speaking, codependency involves one needy partner and one enabling partner. The needy person bases their self-worth on being needed. Their partner enables this pattern by expecting to have all their needs met. But… how does someone truly know if they are a codependent partner?
How to Know If You Are in a Codependent Relationship
- Fights and Blame: You each think the other needs to change, which explains why you argue so often.
- Stagnation: Both of you feel stuck and wonder if you’re with the right person. Even so, neither of you is willing to risk talking about it for fear of losing everything.
- Isolation: You both stay home and avoid social outings or only attend events as a couple.
- Self-Judgment: You blame yourself for the apparent issues in the relationship. If only you could do better, you believe things could go back to how they once were.
- Sacrifice: You neglect your needs and feelings to focus on your partner. You’re at the point where you can’t even define your needs or emotions anymore.
- Delegating Emotions: You believe it’s up to your partner to make you feel better. You feel no responsibility for the codependent behaviors.
6 Ways to Know If You Are a Codependent Partner
If any of the above sounds eerily familiar, it’s crucial that you figure out what role you’re playing in this unhealthy scenario. The following are some personal red flags to be on the watch for:
1. Extreme Worrying and Fixation
If your partner doesn’t check in or call, you fall into a panic.
2. You Only Have Fun With You’re With Them
If the only person you want to be with is your partner, it’s a strong sign of codependency.
If your partner is ever in need and you can’t be with them immediately, you feel immediate guilt and shame.
4. You Can’t Say No
The thought of turning down your partner for any reason is enough to create an anxiety attack.
5. You’ve Become Very Controlling
Your desire to be your partner’s caretaker is partly motivated by a desire to control them, e.g., get them to behave in a way that eases your mind.
6. You Don’t Know What You Want or Need Anymore
You expend so much time and energy toward pleasing your partner while ignoring your needs. As a result, the thing you seem to need or want is to please your partner.
Ready For Some Good News?
Codependency is not a disorder. It’s a learned behavior. Therefore, by definition, it can be unlearned. You may have had codependency modeled for you by previous partners or your family. Watching your parents may have skewed your perception of healthy vs. unhealthy love. Again, this means you can change many if not all of these dysfunctional habits.
The best venue for such a change is in therapy. In this setting, you have a safe space to identify and explore patterns. As you can more clearly see what you’re doing and feeling, you are better positioned to discover and try new approaches.
In some cases, couples counseling is most helpful. With both partners present, it can be possible to get a complete picture of the dynamic. From there, through discussion and role-play, valuable changes can be made. Let’s connect so I can help you make the changes needed.