Are you interested in codependent relationships? Perhaps, you think it’s the same as depending on a loved one, but that’s not the case here.
Codependent relationships include a silent deal of give-and-take, without which the relationship and the people cannot progress, cruel, right?
Well, a codependent relationship can snatch away your capabilities and independence without your knowledge.
You might lose yourself amidst toxic relationships and your happiness forever.
If you’re curious to know whether your relationships have similar traits, then begin with…
Summary in Infographics
What is Codependency?
Codependency is someone’s loss of sense of confidence, independence, and faith in oneself and dependence on others’ approval for it.
Around the 1940s, professionals used the term codependency to define certain behavioral patterns in romantic partners or loved ones who depended on drugs or alcohol.
Initially, experts thought that codependent people made excuses to consume substances or hide them away completely.
Though in the current situation, codependency defines vast behavioral patterns which you might observe in relationships. You can no longer restrict codependent behavior with substance abuse.
The chief codependent traits are self-sacrificial tendencies, putting others before yourself, constant controlling nature resulting in conflicting situations, and trouble in understanding or showing one’s expressions.
So, according to the latest definition, “codependency” is a person’s loss of sense of independence in any close relationship, when they believe they must stand by others.
A codependent person depends on others to feel worthy and manipulates them for attention, love, and praise.
However, some debate that the term manipulation is too cruel in this context… and codependent people don’t always manipulate consciously, and sometimes are not even aware of their actions.
How is that possible? Let’s understand better with these…
1. You always resolve your parent’s issues because “that’s what a filial child must do”.
2. You extend a helping hand to your subordinates even when you’re drowning in deadlines and facing inconvenience.
3. You sacrifice leisure for a loved one’s chores even when you’re dog-tired.
4. You face trouble when you look for a house, go for a friend’s outing, or choose your profession because you worry you’ll not spend time with your loved ones.
5. You clean the house even when you’re sick because you don’t want to put them in a spot, although they never refuse anything.
However, codependency might be both-sided, enlighten yourself with…
What is a codependent relationship?
Codependent relationships comprise two people – a sacrificing one (giver) who depends on the other’s praise in return for innumerable sacrifices and a selfish one (receiver) who finds pleasure in receiving.
In romantic relationships, when the partners fail to undertake some kind of responsibility, you name it codependent relationships.
However, you might observe codependency in other relationships too, like with a family member or a friend.
Say for sexual intercourse, one of them is always on the receiving side, and the other is always on the giving side. However, for financial situations, the roles might reverse.
Or one of two friends always takes notes in class for both, while the other always pays for both of their food.
So, a codependent relationship doesn’t imply that only one person receives all kinds of support and the other person always gives, which makes a perfect dysfunctional relationship.
They might also reverse their giver and receiver roles depending on the responsibilities.
You might not notice what’s wrong in surrendering responsibility for your weaknesses and only taking responsibility for your strengths.
Well, playing the same role in a relationship will frustrate a giver because they never got enough praise for their efforts.
In the end, both of them will seek their needs in a new relationship.
Confused? Let me help you steer clear out of it.
1. Your partner is an avid gamer, but games don’t interest you. You always ditch your idea of a movie night because they want to play games with their friends.
2. Your partner is an introvert and doesn’t like socializing. You gave up attending friends’ outings because you feel you’ll make them sad if you do and they gladly accept it.
3. You don’t like it when your partner refuses your help, you want to prove to them you’re the only one they’ll ever need.
4. When your parents have trouble mowing their lawn when you’re out for work. However, you’re their child, so why ask someone else? And you feel guilty for not being there.
5. Your best friend broke up and wants to talk with you because you’re age-old BFFs. You take a sudden leave from your shift because you must stay beside them
As you notice, co-dependent relationships have a streak of wanting to play the savior and prove to the other they are dependent on you… while the other encourages your codependent behavior.
Think codependency stops at personal relationships? Let’s head to…
Different Forms of Codependency
Codependency can be both in personal relationships like parent-child, spouse-spouse, sibling-sibling, and professional relationships like superior-subordinate.
If you think that codependency stops only at relationships where you got emotions involved, here’s more for you.
You can never confine the codependency of codependent people within one relationship.
They don’t necessarily behave the same in all relationships in their life, but they might exhibit their tendencies in multiple relationships of different types, significance, and with different intensities.
Usually, a person might repeat dependent behavior in multiple relationships when they have very low self-esteem and perceive themselves as useless.
Also, they don’t have healthy boundaries and are unable to refuse others even when it becomes inconvenient for them.
You might develop codependency in a parent-child relationship, between a married or unmarried couple, between a superior and subordinate, or even between a teacher and students.
After the summary and forms, I’m sure you are a bit confused amidst the two…
Codependence vs. Dependence
In the table below, I will help you identify the difference between codependency and dependency
|In codependence, the same person always plays the giver for specific or all responsibilities. For instance, only the wife cooks and feeds the husband because she wants her husband to feel he needs her.||In dependence, both people divide the same responsibility equally depending on their situation. For instance, a couple gives each other pep-talk whenever either of them feels low.|
|The codependent one can’t feel confident about themselves and constantly feels low.||Both people feel confident in their own capabilities. But when in doubt, they got each other’s back.|
|The giver or codependent individual can’t find happiness without sacrificing themselves for the other. They can’t feel content no matter how much the giver sacrifices.||In dependence, both feel gratified because they only need mental support and endless love to sustain the relationship. They feel happy to have each other.|
|A codependent relationship becomes the highest priority in the giver-receiver duo’s life. They can’t concentrate on other aspects of their life, so they don’t have individual interests or motivation.||In dependence, two people undeniably depend on each other, yet they can be happy without clinging to each other. They have individual interests, motivations, and commitments.|
|In codependency, a person’s sacrificial tendencies are boundless so they have a tough time identifying personal feelings and cravings.||A dependent person easily identifies their feelings, expresses them, and tries to work together with each of their interests in mind.|
|Codependence is more of a negative behavioral pattern and it can harm any relationship.||Dependence is an anticipated quality in all relationships to work healthily.|
|In codependence, partners tend to manipulate each other.||In dependence, two people understand each other’s needs with the help of effective communication to make it work.|
|In Codependence, people suffer from fear of rejection, and always suppress their feelings.||In dependence, people clearly discuss their expectations without fearing rejection.|
But what’s the fuss with codependence, you just have a unique relationship. Not really.
Let’s find out why!
Why is Codependent Relationship Unhealthy?
A codependent person might always seek another person’s approval and get addicted to their praises. This may lead to self-doubt and lack of confidence when the admiration is not reciprocated.
If you have loved ones, you’ll want to help them in trying times and that’s completely fine. After all, that’s how you show your love for them.
You’re possibly a caring and compassionate person and your heart aches when you notice your loved ones at a loss.
However, if you’re unsure about something, you’ll want to cross-check. Perhaps, you went out of your way for someone and were seeking their admiration.
When you depend on someone else and wait for their approval to feel confident excessively, you not only become dysfunctional without their acceptance but also have this constant urge for others to depend on you.
In a healthy relationship, people don’t value themselves only when their partner recognizes, unlike a codependent relationship.
Initially, a giver doesn’t notice a toxic relationship because they’re high on the receiver’s “never-ending needs”. However, once they face difficulties in satisfying the receiver’s needs, the relationship takes a bitter shape.
Moreover, a giver and receiver even after realizing the situation can’t leave their unhealthy relationship because their complementary needs overpower them.
But why does this happen? Let me explain.
Codependent Relationship Causes
If you think you’re in a codependent relationship, the first step towards getting out of this is identifying the issues.
1. Your parents never prioritized you
If you had needy parents, they possibly told you your needs don’t matter and you must always prioritize your parents over yourself.
They called you manipulative or greedy to express your desires because they didn’t have the resources to fulfill them.
Since you’ve experienced this kind of behavior in your childhood, you’ve believed that is how it should be. You believe that you’re born to be a caretaker and be the giver in codependent relationships.
2. You lived with a sick family member
If you grew up around a physically or mentally ill family member, you learned to care for them at a tender age. Possibly, you ignored yourself because you couldn’t afford to tend to your needs while also taking care of them.
You subconsciously played the giver’s role without consciously committing to it. Even if you know they’ll not return the favor, you’re fine with that.
If the sick person taught you that you must look after them “selflessly”, that can be another reason.
3. You faced abusive family dynamics
If you were ever emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, you might have long-term or permanent psychological issues like codependency.
You suppress your thoughts and emotions to avoid further abuse and meanwhile, your codependency becomes a learned behavior instead of a subconscious one.
You sacrifice yourself now because mentally you’re still living in the past.
As you’ve never had a healthy relationship so you feel toxic ones are just as fine.
4. You faced rejection in the past
If your loved one’s rejection left you miserable or traumatized, it might still linger in your subconscious mind.
You thought that you deserved the trauma or it was bound to happen. You loved that person so much that you’re just not ready to believe that they were wrong.
So, self-rejection comes to you by default. However, the delight that you felt after the appreciation from your loved one, you kept wanting more… and more.
To meet your desires and to feel important, you became codependent and eventually stepped into codependent relationships.
5. Somebody abandoned you
If a caregiver or someone closes abandoned you in your childhood or during a crisis, you possibly thought you were not good enough for them.
You fear abandonment because of this incident as it brings back memories of helpless times. You decided to get rid of “your shortcomings” with immense affection towards your partner.
Back then you deeply believed that you didn’t meet their needs or weren’t a deserving person… and so they abandoned you. You don’t want to face it again so, keep doing what it takes to stay together.
6. Your caregiver controlled you
If you grew up with overprotective parents, and you were not allowed to make independent decisions, that may be another reason behind your codependent relationship. You never faced the world or learned to make boundaries.
Since you always listened to what your parents said and never made decisions by yourself, you have now started depending on them.
But after adulthood, you faced difficulties taking responsibilities and setting boundaries. You never turned down anyone’s request because that’s how you always behaved.
You became a rug for everyone and believed that’s normal.
7. Your caregiver played hot-and-cold
If your caregiver didn’t treat you consistently, it might be a cause of your co-dependent relationship. Perhaps, they gave you a lot of attention one moment and forgot about your presence the next.
They left you guessing what you did wrong so you always put your best foot forward to grab their attention.
You found your efforts useful and believed that they’ll love you only if you do something “big” even when it costs you your own peace.
Your conclusion from early years turned into a habit.
8. Your loved ones criticize you
If your loved ones or peers criticize you even without fault or blame you for something impossible, you’ll second-guess your abilities.
You’ll soon lose your confidence and feel worthless unless others approve of you. You thrive more on praise than on self-satisfaction.
Since you grew dependent on others’ approval, you prioritize their needs irrespective of your inconveniences.
9. You grew up feeling helpless
You possibly grew up with a lot of distressed people and always saw them sad and helpless. But back then you didn’t have the power to help them.
You blame yourself for their sadness and feel that you must suffer in their stead to make up for your uselessness.
If you deeply believe that you don’t deserve happiness because you weren’t helpful to others, you might lose your sense of independence leading to co-dependent relationships.
10. Someone was unfaithful to you
Perhaps you trusted and depended on someone a lot, however, they let you down repeatedly. Their unfaithfulness might be unintentional but their actions scarred you deeply.
For instance, a parent always promised to visit the amusement park but never made it because of work. You gradually though they won’t keep their promise until you give them a reason to.
Or, a friend refused to spend time with you multiple times because they were busy, but you caught them hanging out with others and that led you to self-loathing.
However, these causes don’t necessarily imply that you’re codependent… so you may want to know about some symptoms…
Codependent Relationship Symptoms – For Giver
Symptoms vary depending on your type of codependency.
For instance, if you’re a giver…
1. You trouble yourself
You always take on others’ troubles because you feel responsible for them…. you don’t mind even if it hurts you or your life.
And, you want them to feel they can’t function without you and need you for leading a healthy life.
2. You’re tolerant to abuse
When someone abuses you mentally or physically, you think that’s normal. You keep up with them because “they didn’t mean it” or “people express their anger to loved ones”.
3. You avoid disagreements
When your thoughts differ from others, you keep tight-lipped because you don’t want to argue with them. You feel arguing might lead to deep-seated misunderstandings and possibly spoil a relationship.
4. You fear abandonment
If you always think that your loved one will abandon you and never look back, so you want to please them with everything possible, it might be a symptom of a giver. Your codependency thrives on this fear.
5. You feel insecure in relationships
Do you always feel that you failed your parents? Or, that your partner will find someone better person than you?
Do you always do favors because you feel you don’t deserve them? Your insecurity might be a symptom of codependency.
6. You always want to find solutions
When you find someone close in a pinch, do you always try to find a fix for them? If you feel that you must help them and get upset when they ask you to not worry, it might be a co-dependency symptom.
7. You feel guilty for others
When someone close to you faces difficulties and you can’t help them, do you blame yourself? Or, do you feel you don’t deserve any happiness yourself because you can’t make others happy?
Both show you want to sacrifice yourself for them, i.e., you’re a giver.
Codependent Relationship Symptoms – For Receiver
However, if you’re a receiver…
1. You have endless needs
No matter how much others prioritize you, nothing satisfies you. Rather, if you like to watch them try harder to satisfy you and feel important yourself, you might be a codependent person.
2. You seek excessive attention
When you engage in sex with your partner, what’s your motive? Is it because you want to feel confident about yourself instead of feeling close? Then you’re a codependent person.
3. You never appreciate others
How do you react when someone does you a favor? If you don’t register when someone goes out of their way for your happiness, or mostly behave ungratefully, you might be codependent.
4. You believe you deserve the best
If you always think that you’re the most deserving, then you might suffer from personality disorders like narcissism or other mental health concerns, which is another codependency symptom.
5. You compare to feel better
Whenever you feel low, if you compare yourself and your possessions to others to feel superior, you probably suffer from codependency.
6. You obsess over others
How do you feel about your loved ones leaving you? Does it pain you or does it anger? If it’s the latter, then it’s another red flag.
7. You reason out abuse
If you abuse someone or see someone abusing another, what’s your first thought? Do you think that it’s wrong?
However, if you think that the other person did something wrong and they deserved it, you’re a codependent receiver.
After the symptoms, here are some foolproof signs for more validation.
Codependent relationship signs
If you find some commonalities in the symptoms, keep reading to know some signs.
1. You guys don’t connect anymore
You feel that you don’t know your favorite person in the world anymore…. you want to give them everything, but don’t feel the same commitment from them.
They hardly support you as much as you and sometimes you question the normalcy of your relationship – all of this combined is a sign of codependency.
For instance, you always do the chores, but in return, they never help you, not even in times of crisis.
2. You feel burdened around them
For instance, you may have felt satisfied after reading a book but the moment this person steps into the room, your mood is spoiled.
You always ask them to improve their ways and come up with unique ideas to make you happy.
However, no matter what they do or how they do, you always find fault with them and they become the core reason for your dissatisfaction.
If you peacefully spend time with others but not with them, then that’s another red flag for your relationship.
3. You want to fix them
You always look at them as the culprit and make them feel that if it was not for you, nobody can handle them.
Since this person fails to spot their “flaws” you arbitrarily accepted the job of fixing them. Possibly, you already have a mental note of the flaws along with multiple ways of fixing them.
4. You feel you chose the wrong one
If you feel that your relationship lost its spark and you can’t rekindle it, then perhaps it’s a sign of codependency.
You always focus on the relationship and forget what makes the relationship – two people. So, if you think there’s no spark then you or your partner are no longer invested in it.
If you wish to bring back happiness, you need to first learn to be happy with yourself and then in this relationship.
5. You don’t know how you feel
When someone asks you how you’re doing, what’s your answer? Does your answer depend on your mood? If yes, does your mood depend on the other person?
If you always feel at the edge because you don’t know how your S.O, parent, or boss will react to your actions throughout the day, then that’s another codependence sign.
When the other person’s thoughts impact you negatively to this point, it’s an unhealthy relationship.
6. You’re cruel to yourself
When you achieve something good, how do you treat yourself? If you celebrate your achievements, you have no worries.
However, if you feel insufficient no matter what you do because ‘they didn’t praise me”, that’s an issue.
Your actions demotivate you and the other person might also believe you’re undeserving.
Over time if they think you’re no good, you’ll feel the worst even at your best.
7. You blame them for everything
Your car is out of gas, what do you do? Curse your luck and head to the gas station, or fight with them because they didn’t refill after using the car, so it’s their fault.
Perhaps they really forgot to refill, how will fighting help you reach your destination rather than filling the gas tank?
If you always hunt new ways to hurt them and hold them responsible for your bad day, you might be in a codependent relationship.
8. You feel domestic abuse is normal
If you or the other person is physically, mentally, or verbally abusive and you found nothing wrong about it, then everything is wrong.
When you receive abuse if you think “oh well, that’s how it always turns. My uncle was the same.”
Or, when you abuse another, you think “if I discipline them, it’ll help them later.”
Then definitely consult an expert as you’re in a toxic codependent relationship.
9. You lack confidence
Do you both always ask for each other’s approval about your life? It’s not the same as a“Do I look good in this outfit?” question.
If you were to rate your worth, will you ask your partner or answer it yourself?
Usually, in codependent relationships, both people forget their worth and become dependent on the smallest of things.
If you don’t feel confident unless they are reassured you did well in a job, that’s a mess. You possibly fear your partner will leave and always seek validation.
10. You can’t say no
Suppose, you clock out within an hour after a tiresome week’s work but your co-worker asked you to help them with some work, what will you do?
You must prioritize yourself, so turn them down. But do you?
If you take that job without a word, then you clearly want to pose as a “good coworker” at your own cost which is another codependency sign.
You know you’ve reached your limit for the day but the urge to please others overpower you.
11. You are extremely indecisive
You want to make a spicy dinner, but your spouse doesn’t like its smell. So, you cook non-spicy food for them, but you still decide against making anything spicy for yourself.
If that rings a bell, you always try too hard to please them. But, why?
Did they ask you to forget about your likes and only focus on theirs? Then you married a controlling person.
Or, do you feel they’ll abandon you if you don’t work according to their wishes? Your codependency is evident from your actions.
12. You want to cease their achievements
Sometimes, do you secretly wish that they don’t grab that promotion? Perhaps you fear they’ll leave you and pursue a better career far away from you?
Or, you think that you’ll no longer have the upper hand and they’ll no longer need your care and attention.
In that case, you have an intense urge to manipulate them and tie them down to yourself. You fear you’ll lose the only person who makes you feel worthy… you reek of codependency.
13. You want to be the financial backbone
When you try to be “the man”, or “the breadwinner” even when your partner earns for themselves, how does your partner react?
Do they stop you from paying? Then you’re the only codependent one, precisely the giver.
However, if your partner encourages you to pay for you all the time, then you’re a giver-receiver couple.
They want to depend on you financially, and you want approval for doing so.
14. You never share your preferences
If you’re compassionate, you probably know everything the other person needs even before they ask you.
However, if you never care about your necessities or share your likes and dislikes with the other person, then how will you bond with them?
You don’t share your thoughts because you’re afraid to disturb or annoy them with your feelings. And you don’t want that lest they leave you behind.
Your fear of rejection led you into a codependent relationship.
15. You lose control when alone
When you’re alone, do you think you can’t work out anything?
Well, if your partner supports you immensely, that’s great. However, if you can’t even step forward in your life without their permission or presence, that’s not healthy.
If you feel insufficient and extremely dependent on them for any important event of your life, that’s codependency.
Suppose you feel lost without them, then you’ll never achieve success or happiness on your own.
16. You keep tabs on them
If you love staying in touch, then that’s a great sign. In fact, texting them something sweet throughout your work can also make them feel special.
But the warning signs begin with your reaction. Perhaps you sent many memes to your partner yet they didn’t check it immediately.
How do you feel? Anxious?
Well, that’s your suppressed emotions about controlling and surveilling them when they’re out of reach because you must feel needed all the time.
17. You customized your preferences
If they get a coke, you get a coke. If they’re allergic to something, you don’t eat it yourself.
Why do you always forget about your likes? Does pushing your preferences aside make you a better person?
In reality, you want them to think that you’re their carbon copy and the perfect fit for them.
You might think it’s cute to match your preferences now, but this is actually a codependent giver sign.
18. You’re not honest in bed
If you are a codependent giver, you’ll only please your romantic partner’s needs, even if it leaves you unsatisfied.
Even when you don’t feel like it but your partner initiates sex, you never share your real feelings.
Sometimes you want your partner to pat you to sleep but can’t ask for it because you fear their rejection.
Perhaps not attending to your needs led you to experience a fall in libido.
19. Your dependence is one-way
You love taking care of your partner’s health and basic needs and you get satisfaction from treating them.
However, does your partner do the same? Does he/she remember your minute needs and fulfill them well?
If not, your partner is a receiver and you’re a giver. You guys are in a codependent relationship and deep inside you know they’re quite selfish to not treat you well.
However, you keep mum because of your obsession for approval.
20. You want to be everyone’s favorite
Suppose your sibling is sick but their husband needs homemade lunch. You ditch your priorities to help your sibling’s family even before they ask.
Or, when your mother asks you to uproot the weeds, you hide your skin inflammation and follow their wishes.
Do you always look for opportunities to help others?
You’re wrong if you think that you’re a family person. Rather, you want everyone to praise you for your self-sacrificing nature.
Codependent givers obsess overpraises subconsciously.
21. They don’t understand you
You immensely love or respect one person in your life. However, you feel that your partner doesn’t understand that as they don’t express their appreciation.
Or, you don’t find their way of expressing their appreciation enough. You always want more of it. More love, attention, approval – it doesn’t matter how much they do now, they must do more.
You might constantly feel they don’t do enough for you and you feel bitter towards the relationship.
22. You play a papa/mama to others
Wherever you go, if you compulsively care for others or apply parenting skills, you might be a giver.
Perhaps when something goes wrong with your coworker, you feel you must help else they might suffer… even when it takes you to your project for that.
Or, your adult siblings are in a fight so you must stand and help them resolve the issue even though you were busy with work.
23. You want everything perfect
The next warning sign of codependency is perfectionism. You feel you must be perfect in everything you do to grab others’ attention.
Or, you must make your partner perfect and accept responsibilities to “modify” them. And you feel anxious until you reach perfectionism.
For the same reason, you’ll always seek and bond with other codependent people.
Moreover, you feel hurt or angry when you can’t be perfect in everything which leads to further relationship issues.
24. Your loved ones are incomparable
In your opinion, whatever a close person does, they’re always right and do their best even if they’re at fault.
Although this person is quite miserable, you feel you mustn’t leave them or break up with them and their life depends on you. You’re possibly in a codependent relationship with them.
Your love for them is more of an addiction than genuine emotions which is the building block of an unhealthy relationship.
25. You believe you’re a flawless hero
When others offer you help, you refuse because why bother others. Moreover, you think that they can’t depend on you in their trying times if you show weakness.
You want them to believe you’re a superhero so they can’t refuse to be with you.
Even when you need help, if you brush them off with “Don’t worry, I’ll be done within seconds”, you’re probably in a codependent relationship.
Now that you know the symptoms and signs, let’s identify some characteristics of codependent relationships.
Characteristics of codependent relationships
If any of these characteristics match you or your loved one, you might be in a codependent relationship…
1. You obsess over taking responsibility for others’ actions,
2. You desperately want someone to take responsibility for you.
3. You have a fascination with doing more than the other person or proving yourself more useful to them,
4. You encourage the other person to do more for you.
5. You suffer from depression because others don’t notice your efforts in helping them
6. You feel bad to ask help from others and think you burdened them, or you feel you’re entitled to all the attention and help in the world.
7. You obsess over their praises. Praises are your motivation to do better.
8. You don’t trust yourself and need others’ approval for yourself
9. You don’t trust anybody and always feel that you must help them fix their lives.
10. You always feel you must control and monitor others for their welfare
11. You have abandonment issues and fear they’ll leave you behind
12. You cannot easily adjust to changing situations
13. You cannot understand your own or others’ feelings
14. You easily feel angry at yourself or others when any plan fails
15. You don’t know how to set healthy boundaries and let others walk all over you
16. You cannot express yourself easily
17. You tend to hide or say the polar opposite so others don’t worry about you
18. You become indecisive because you put others’ feelings first,
19. You’re not sure about your feelings towards them. You possibly pity them and want to save them from their misfortune.
20. You depend on others to an unhealthy extent and are ready to put your life on the line to keep them in your life. You cannot accept the thought of rejection and abandonment
But it’s not ALL bad. Here are some…
Codependent Relationships Benefits
Sometimes both sides of a codependent relationship feel safe with each other’s mental and emotional support without any abuse.
After knowing about so many negative signs, symptoms, and characteristics, you might question how an unhealthy relationship has benefits?
Well, both parties of a codependent relationship cope with something and distract themselves from deeper problems with the veil of a relationship.
The giver in a codependent relationship finds themselves happier when they focus on the receiver’s needs and forget their personal problems.
Whereas the receiver receives aid from the giver about the troublesome aspects of life.
Both sides of a codependent relationship complement each other’s flaws, issues, and shortcomings with their manipulative or selfish side.
Some givers feel at ease when they give and think everything falls at its rightful place only when they give. And the receiver’s appreciation works like an addictive substance soothing their nerves.
A codependent relationship is a dysfunctional relationship with two dysfunctional people supporting in ways they can’t themselves.
But you wouldn’t have the whole picture without some…
Codependent Relationship risks
If you’re the codependent person in a relationship in general, or with a person addicted to alcohol, drugs, and other substances then the codependent partner and the family dynamics might suffer from some of these risks…
1. A higher chance of indulging in substance addictions, betting, or food.
2. Losing touch with the world beyond the codependent relationship.
3. Incapability to maintain any responsibility beyond the codependent relationship.
4. Poor health of the codependent person due to self-negligence.
5. Depression or anxiety disorders in the codependent person as the addicted person doesn’t pay attention to the codependent one.
6. Falling confidence or any other mental or physical issues in the codependent person.
7. Feeling empty and unaccomplished no matter what you do.
8. Feeling helpless about yourself and your situation.
9. Slowly lose energy and motivation for doing anything (burning out).
10. Believing that love is not unconditional and getting involved in codependent relationships.
11. Cultivating Autophobia or fear of abandonment.
Whereas if your partner is codependent and also addicted to substances, food, or gambling, you may suffer from certain other risks, like…
1. Regular physical and mental consequences of addictions.
2. Delayed treatment of the addicted person as the codependent one believes that addiction is why you’re still with them.
3. High risks after treatment, as the codependent one might urge you to revert to old ways because they need your dependency.
If you’re suspicious of your loved one’s behavior, ensure with…
How do codependent people behave?
Codependent people impose their helping hand on loved ones as they believe their loved ones can never do well without them. They obsess over helping to be a rescuer.
Codependent people never feel confident with what they achieved in their life or who they are.
So, they continuously seek others’ approval to restore their faith or engage in something destructive like substance abuse, gambling, or sexual involvement with others arbitrarily.
However, codependent givers seek the opposite side with fair intents which later warps into a compulsion.
They cannot bear the thought that they can’t help their loved ones or that their loved ones are independent. They want to sacrifice themselves to gain their favor and win a “savior” tag from their relationship.
For instance, a spouse covers the alcoholic spouse’s abuse with petty excuses; a parent overlooks a naughty child’s actions because they’re innocent, or a parent uses power to help their child receive the best.
Notice that a codependent person ruins their beloved’s life in the face of help. They repeat their actions not because they love or respect the other person, but for their approval to feel good about themselves.
With time, the other person feels it’s alright to continue whatever they did because the codependent one will solve everything, which fuels a codependent one’s confidence and achievement.
At some point, both become heavily dependent on each other and never notice where they went wrong.
Codependency leads to toxic relationships, so you must know…
How to get out of a codependent relationship? – If you’re codependent
If you find that you’re the codependent one in your relationship, then follow these steps to smoothly walk out of it.
1. Find something good out of your relationship
You can’t easily find something good about yourself because of codependence.
So, find one good thing about you every day and write it in your journal for a week. Increase it to two things from next week and so on.
When you can’t think of “qualities”, remember how you did a great job yourself throughout the day where you didn’t help someone else, but yourself.
2. Invest in some activities
You can find many simple indoor or outdoor activities like painting and learning a musical instrument. Find your passions or something you had no idea you excelled in.
Once you find something good, make it your pet project. Slowly invest in your artistic side for happiness.
However, you might not identify your passions or skills immediately, so don’t lose heart yet and do it because you love it.
3. Spend time with loving people
Did you think of the person in your codependent relationship? Well, you got it wrong!
Even if you don’t acknowledge it, people love you or look at you for who you are instead of your efforts.
Some people in general don’t judge others as they believe everyone is their own person. Identify such a person among friends and family.
Learn to accept yourself the way you accept everyone else.
4. Promote self-centrism
If you want to hide your codependency behind “I can’t be so selfish” – let me tell you it’s not.
As a codependent giver, you always think of others. “If they’ll praise me… If they’ll like this…”
When your thoughts find their way to others’ likes and dislikes, think more about yourself.
For instance, when you think “She doesn’t like this food… let’s not order it”, sidetrack your thoughts with “I love this food, I’ll have it.”
5. Start saying NO
When you return from a long day at work and your brother asks you to do the chores because he has a game to play… What do you do?
“Poor thing, if he can’t enjoy now, then when?” If you think so, then you must say no.
Perhaps the other person is unaware, so explain that you’re tired and can’t pick up more.
Challenge yourself to refuse “harmless requests” for one day, deposit a dollar for every time you give in.
6. Don’t give in to criticism
When a person criticizes you, what’s their purpose?
If he/she says “ABC is far better than you, you’re a worthless loser”?
It is demeaning and you must never accept such criticisms. Comparisons and curses show how the other person projected their frustrations on you.
But if they say, “This wasn’t good enough, try harder you can do it but this isn’t it.”
This is an encouraging criticism and shows the other person is optimistic, you can give it more thought.
Improve yourself, don’t let self-doubt creep into you for what others have to say.
7. Question your intentions
Whenever you feel a compulsion, give it another thought. Identify your purpose to do something, what’s your goal?
Then think if you really want to do it or you feel you must or else… If you think of an ‘else’, you promote conditional love. Don’t step any further in this task.
Next, think about how the task might harm you. Will you neglect some duty? And will you feel equally energetic and have enough time to complete your responsibilities?
8. Pump some muscles
Choose a time of your choice and work out in a nearby gym. If you’re a codependent giver, you normally neglect both physical and mental health.
So, nourish yourself physically with special gear and a trainer’s guidance.
Also, physical exercise can boost your mood and well-being with positive sensations. Feel better even if you have some mental health concerns.
Build positive thoughts and connect with yourself emotionally.
9. Practice optimism
If you don’t know how to practice optimism, then give yourself a pep-talk when you feel down.
For instance, when you get ready in the morning, check yourself out in the mirror and compliment yourself.
Suppose, you don’t feel anything is worth complimenting, still say some words of affirmation out loud. Living beings come in all shapes and sizes.
When do you see a different-colored rose do you call it exotic or ugly?
10. Practice self-love
If you judge yourself at the end of a day, time to change that.
Forgive yourself tonight because you’ll shine harder than ever tomorrow. Others don’t think twice before passing comments so you mustn’t think about undeserving people.
Love your flaws and soon you’ll become a unique person. Pamper your skin every night and go to bed relaxed.
However, the same steps might not work for a codependent partner, so here are
How to Fix a Codependent Relationship? – If your partner is codependent
If you’re on the receiving end of the codependent relationship, here’s what you can do to tend to the situation.
1. Notice the patterns
How exactly does your partner exhibit their codependent tendencies? Ensure you don’t mistake healthy interdependence for codependency.
Also, are they codependent giver or receivers? If they have selfish tendencies, they might be codependent receivers.
Do they help you in general or force the help on you? If you feel caged with their love and attention, they might be a codependent giver.
2. Dig into the roots
Where did this begin? Did they grow up with alcoholic, sick, or overprotective parents? Do they also abuse substances? Or are they bad at setting boundaries?
Perhaps they had an abusive childhood and subconsciously still fear expressing their fears? Dig into the backstory if you don’t know them well.
However, if you know the actual cause, reassure them you won’t leave them if they express themselves. Remind them that they’re no longer in the past. Make them aware of the safe space.
3. Be blunt about the situation
Once you’re sure of the situation, break it to them. Tell them how they depend on you for happiness and confidence. Express that you’ll be happy if they regain self-confidence.
A codependent person thrives on others’ acceptance so lure them in accepting themselves with the thought of pleasing you.
Though a bit crooked, it’ll help them lead a healthy and content life as they can’t grow independent overnight.
4. Be a listening ear only
If you’re with a codependent receiver, don’t give solutions unless they want it. They possibly think that they can manipulate you at the drop of a hat but don’t give in to their needs.
Instead, give them ideas to solve the issue themselves. Support them through this journey with your capabilities but don’t contribute to their needs directly.
Don’t feed their dependency otherwise you’ll push them to their doom.
5. Turn them down
Whether you’re with a codependent giver or receiver, refuse them.
Say, your giver parent notices you’re working hard at your part-time job for a game console, they’ll surprise you with one. Refuse that and continue working for your dreams.
Suppose your alcoholic receiver parent asks you to stay back when leaving for work because they feel lonely. If that’s a repetitive pattern, don’t give in.
Instead, tell them why you can’t do it… they may feel aggravated initially but later it will help them find a way out of this codependency.
6. Remind them of their dreams
Your codependent loved one definitely has some dreams. If you know them, motivate them with those dreams. If you fail, then you can attach “yourself” to it, and they will be immediately motivated.
For instance, if they’re a receiver and always expect gifts from you, tell them “You’ll feel even better when you get these yourself.”
Or, for a taker, tell them “You’ll feel great once you realize your true dreams rather than realizing mine, as I’ll stay beside you marveling at your magic.”
Take slow steps and they’ll soon be able to walk out of this toxic dependency.
7. Send them on adventures
Your codependent partner is possibly clingy beyond words so they must spend some time away from you. However, simply asking won’t do the trick.
Sign them up for a solo adventure like hiking or even a few hours’ marathons. However, admitting them in a regular course can work better.
They’ll ritually spend time away from you and slowly find happiness alone.
Support them from the shadows, stay in contact with their coach to track their improvement.
8. Ask them for solutions
When a receiver requests you for something, twist the thought and pretend that you need their opinion on something.
For instance, when they ask “When will we get that house?” say “If we worked together, how much would our savings be? Don’t you think joint savings will pick up the pace?”
9. Set healthy boundaries
If they constantly follow your movement to ensure you need them and grow anxious when you can’t stay in touch, your relationship might not last long.
Set ground rules like no monitoring through texts or calls when either of you is busy.
Instead of assuming things and getting angry, think about why the other person can’t be beside you. Understand each other’s issues and respect their space.
Practice it together to track their progress.
10. Dial down the time
Communication and spending time together are great for any relationship. But sticking to each other during all activities isn’t.
If your codependent loved one waits for long hours to have dinner with you, you must not encourage it.
When you return late, ask them to eat so that they get an opportunity to prioritize their choice.
Make some time for yourself – both of you – and do what you want in that time. Read, watch shows or just take a walk in the nearby park.
However, if you’re both codependent, then you might need something serious…
Codependent Relationship Treatment – If you both are codependent
Although codependency isn’t a mental health disorder, you can still treat yourself with these…
1. Brush up on soft skills
Codependent loved ones expect you to understand their needs without asking anything… that’s because they do the same for you.
Express that this “silence” isn’t helping and you’ll be glad if they expressed their desires. Otherwise, your codependent loved ones will disappoint themselves without your knowledge.
But if you’re codependent, ask how to promote communication together instead of directing feelings and urges to meet needs.
2. Understand that communicating needs isn’t needy
Usually, codependent people suppress thoughts because of anthropophobia (fear of rejection).
Assure the codependent one that you’ll not reject their emotions and they’ll not burden them. Instead, you’re glad to know about it.
However, if you’re the codependent one, express that you don’t want your emotions to burden them. Allow them to speak their mind about it… I’m sure it will help you.
Asking what you need and being needy isn’t the same thing as you’ll work things out together.
3. Don’t jumble inter and co-dependence
Learn the difference between interdependence and codependency together. Look up some books on the two topics online or from a local library.
While you read it, mark some points and discuss it with your partner later at night.
Although you can find some basic differences from the Codependence vs Dependence chart, research more on examples for a better understanding.
4. Identify your symptoms and work on them
Sit together to find what aspects of you or them have led you to this conclusion.
Whoever is codependent must honestly answer their reasons behind certain signs, symptoms, or characteristics without any hesitation.
Find some ways to work on them diligently and you both will soon find your way out of it.
5. Rehabilitate a codependent addict
If you’re in a codependent relationship with an addict or are an addict yourself, consider rehabilitation.
When you’re codependent on an addicted partner, you might secretly obstruct their recovery.
So, take significant steps for their recovery.
6. Diagnose for a mental health condition
Consult a doctor if you or a codependent loved one suffers from any underlying mental health condition.
Though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t include codependency as a mental health disorder, the codependent one might suffer from other issues too which restricts recovery.
7. Let go of the past
If the codependent one between you suffered sexual, physical, or emotional abuse in childhood, consider medical advice.
Past trauma can also be a reason to suppress emotions, fear of rejection, or abandonment.
Your compulsion to please others and hide your feelings might be a result of your learned behavior in your childhood.
This behavior saved you from past harm but you no longer need it.
8. Maintain a balance
A healthy work-life balance might decrease your codependency. Some people can’t refuse excess work and spend excess time at their workplace.
Or they feel guilty when their coworkers pull all-nighters to finish their projects. If you randomly pity your work-buddies, remember that your health and personal life are equally important.
Prioritize a balanced lifestyle to treat your issues without any hindrance.
9. Accept your issues
Don’t deny that you depend on others for your happiness. You do it involuntarily so it’s not your fault.
Instead of feeling shame, accept yourself as a codependent person. Eventually, you’ll mitigate your issue rather than hide them.
The more you deny your codependence, the more you delay your treatment, be it from experts or yourself.
10. Seek expert help
If none of the treatment ideas work, then seek psychotherapy for codependency.
However, if one-to-one treatment with an expert is too hard or you feel afraid, sign up in support groups or communities.
Share your thoughts bit by bit and find comfort through each other’s stories.
After all this, if you’re still unsure if you or a loved one is codependent, then take…
Codependent relationship quiz
Pinpoint your codependency symptoms with this quiz and find a solid conclusion.
1. Do you doubt yourself?
Doubts imply you have underlying psychological issues.
2. Do you feel unlovable?
If someone tells you so, they’re a toxic person. Distance yourself from them
3. Is decision-making not an easy task for you?
If you turn for help at every step, that’s concerning.
4. Do you find it difficult to communicate your thoughts?
You need communication for any healthy relationship.
5. Do you always need support?
Codependent people can’t bear to live alone and wish someone would help them.
6. Do you financially dependent on someone?
If you don’t earn yourself, then your financial backbone might mentally abuse you resulting in codependency.
7. Are you a sacrificing person?
Sacrificing excessively for someone implies you have an unhealthy relationship.
8. Do others’ opinions bother you?
If you overthink about others’ opinions’, you’ll never cherish yourself
9. Are you autophobic?
You’ll tolerate unhealthy relationships if you fear abandonment.
10. Do you feel guilty for others?
If you can’t face the truth that your partner or loved one did wrong, it’s a warning sign.
11. Do you avoid arguments?
If you keep quiet to bypass arguments, that’s concerning.
12. Did you cohabitate with an addict?
Taking care of an addict might make you a “giver”
13. Did you face abuse?
If you suffered from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, co-dependency might be a learned behavior.
14. Do you prioritize others’ opinions?
If you ignore your perspective on life to respect others, it’s a warning sign.
15. Do you find compromising troublesome?
Codependent people find compromise hard and disturbing.
16. Do you wish your spouse stayed home always?
If you hate their professional development or social mingling, you have some issues.
17. Do you always feel insufficient?
Codependent people always need others’ approval to feel sufficient.
18. Are you always extremely harsh on yourself?
Codependent people search for any scope for self-reprimanding.
19. Do you feel undeserving?
If you feel you don’t deserve something because of old guilt, that’s codependence.
20. Do you feel ashamed of your loved one’s mistakes?
Unnecessarily accepting your loved ones’ guilt and trying to fix them is a co-dependency sign.
21. Do you have identity issues?
You might feel unsure about your aim and life pathway and depend on others’ choices if you’re codependent.
22. Do you feel you’re nobody without constant efforts?
If anybody told you you’re not enough without stretching yourself too thin, they’re wrong.
23. Are you always uncomfortable speaking to superiors?
Your discomfort talking to superiors implies you’re codependent.
24. Do you always multi-task?
Constant multi-tasking implies you accept tasks beyond your reach to help others- another warning sign.
25. Do you always feel you trouble others?
One codependency sign is feeling that you disturb people when you ask for help.
If you mostly replied “yes” to these questions, then you suffer from many symptoms of codependency. You also found what exactly is wrong in your codependent relationships so work on that accordingly.
Try any or all the treatment options for your codependent life/relationship, or seek medical advice at once.
Don’t panic, you can make it work if you try.
A word from ThePleasantRelationship
You and your loved ones must first learn the basics about codependency, how it hurts your relationships, how you can do better without it.
Your relationship might not seem too toxic at the moment but your feelings and emotions might change in the future, where you’ll want to give up on each other because you can’t get what you need.
Instead of ending your relationship like wandering for alcohol on a dry day, take charge now. Save your relationships, your self-esteem, and independence early on to lead an everlasting loving relationship.
Surabhi wakes up every day with a drive to craft words that can create a soulful impact. Creatively adventurous, she is always seeking to learn new skills and acquire new experiences. With a hidden soft corner for languages (especially Urdu), she writes poetry occasionally, binges on romantic shows, and LOVES to talk. A hustler, admirer, chaser, Surabhi is just another-someone who refused to give up on her dreams. She says, she is just somebody who’s trying to make herself a writer and for now, she’s just writing...