Anyone who has been in a relationship long enough knows that making small compromises here and there for each other is pretty normal. A lot of the time we do it without realizing we’re doing it because we love our partners. So where do we draw the line when it comes to how much we’re changing ourselves to meet someone else’s needs?
First let me start by defining what it means to be in a codependent relationship. If one’s sole purpose in life is making extreme sacrifices to satisfy the needs of his or her partner, it would be a fair assessment to say that he or she is in a codependent relationship. Some may say that making sacrifices to show you love someone is healthy. No. No it is not. There is a huge difference in finding a middle ground with your partner and actually giving up a piece of yourself to be with him or her. If you find yourself dependent on approval from your partner just to feel a sense of identity and self-worth, you’re treading on dangerous ground, my friend.
Before you start to question every little thing happening in your relationship at this moment, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do you or your partner:
- Completely depend on the other for fulfillment?
- Cling to the other to the point where one or both of you is not self-sufficient?
- Support the other to the point where your physical, mental, and emotional health are compromised?
- Have friends or families that claim that you or your partner is too dependent on the other?
- Make huge sacrifices for the other but not get much of anything in return?
- Feel burnt out to the point where you or your partner have started to sever important relationships with friends and family?
- Feel completely lost and alone when one leaves the house without the other?
- Stay with the other even though one of you recognizes some or all of these unhealthy behaviors?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may be in a codependent relationship. The side effects of this type of relationship can have some serious consequences… even if you’re the enabler. As the enabler you are preventing your partner from learning some much needed life lessons (Sun, 2015). As the dependent it is important that you seek counseling as soon as possible.
If you have found that you are in a codependent relationship, how can you change that? Experts say that breaking up is not always the best answer (Sun, 2015). You are, after all, partners. It is actually more important and better for the both of you to begin setting boundaries. It won’t be easy and understand that this will be quite difficult for the dependent and may cause some turmoil for a while. If you find that this isn’t helping your relationship and only making things worse, seek out counselling for the both of you. The longer this behavior has been enabled the harder it is going to be to change it.
Start slowly. Both of you need to begin developing relationships outside of the home. Start by spending time with friends and family without the other. Most importantly though, if you feel as though you are burnt out beyond repair, be honest with your partner. Your efforts to mend a broken relationship will prove fruitless and will only make things worse in future relationships. If you feel that your relationship is repairable, stick with it. Anything worth keeping takes work. Surround yourselves with a positive support group that won’t make you feel ashamed of what the both of you have been going through.
When things seem at their most difficult remember that above all else, do not blame each other. Love each other. Support each other. If you really want this to work, you can do it together.
Sun, F. (2015). Are You in a Codependent Relationship?. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/signs-of-a-codependent-relationship.
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