People often fall into a certain negative pattern when it comes to romance, finding themselves having the same problems over and over again, even with new partners. For people who are codependent, they seem to always be in one-sided relationships in which they are always giving and receiving very little or nothing in return. When you hear the term “codependent” in regards to relationships, you may be most familiar with it in the context of relationships where one partner is an alcoholic or another drug user. However, this term can apply to people outside of this classic example. A codependent person finds it impossible to function as an individual; they create their identity around a relationship. Because their self-worth is defined by the approval of their partner, this person will give and give without consideration for their own needs or desires; they may not even have any idea what those needs or desires are. It can be difficult for a codependent person to recognize these qualities in themselves; they may consider themselves naturally “selfless” or “giving,” unable to see what is unhealthy about their behavior and thinking. Fortunately, even if you are in a codependent relationship, there is hope. The first step is being able to recognize this behavior.
Here are some signs that you might be in a codependent relationship:
You feel like can’t live without your partner.
There may be thousands of love songs that imply otherwise, but you should not feel that your life would not go on without your partner. If you feel like you would die without them, it’s a sign of a codependent relationship. In healthy relationships, each partner is their own individual person who feels complete by themselves; they come together not because they NEED each other, but because they WANT each other.
You are always in the caregiver role.
Do you sometimes feel like you are your partner’s parent? Are you always taking care of your partner like they are a helpless child? This is a sign of codependency. Many people who are codependent are used to playing this role in their families as well, so they may not even notice it, but if you are constantly caring for your partner and not being cared for in return, it is time to reflect on how healthy the relationship really is.
Your happiness is dependent on the happiness of your partner.
Happiness is not something you get from anyone else; it comes from inside yourself. In a codependent relationship, if your partner isn’t happy, you aren’t happy. Your moods and emotions are completely dependent on your partner’s feelings and behavior.
You sacrifice everything for your partner.
Are you always making sacrifices for your partner, but aren’t getting the same treatment in return? Whether it is always canceling plans with friends and family to spend time with your partner, or not pursuing a career goal because your partner doesn’t want you to, you are always giving things up for your relationship and your partner’s happiness.
You have an intense fear of rejection.
Rejection isn’t pleasant for anyone, but fear of it doesn’t stop healthy individuals from living their lives as normal. For codependent people, however, rejection is absolutely terrifying, and they make choices very specifically to avoid rejection. If you are terrified of rejection, it is an indication that you could be codependent.
You aren’t in touch with your own emotions.
Because codependent people are constantly prioritizing other people over themselves, they are largely unaware of their own feelings. When asked, they have a hard time identifying their emotions, and often experience delayed emotional responses.
You can’t just be yourself in your relationship.
In a codependent relationship, you don’t feel like you can just relax and be yourself; you have to behave in a certain way to please your partner. Your partner might literally have certain “rules” you must follow in order to avoid consequences, or these might be self-inflicted rules of what you believe to be acceptable behavior for yourself.
You feel you can’t be honest about your needs or desires in a relationship.
If you are codependent, it may be difficult for you to express your needs or desires to your partner. You might fear that if you are honest, your partner will be disappointed, or worse yet, break up with you. To avoid this, you hide your true needs and feelings, going along with whatever they want and forgetting your own feelings.
If you are concerned about the health of your relationship, it may be time for couples therapy. At New Transitions Counseling Center in Palatine, we offer compassionate couples and family therapy. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!