We all make relationships (knowingly or subconsciously) with people we meet every day. More so, we behave differently in each relationship depending on whether the other person is a child, parent, friend, workmate, boss, student, client, or a significant intimate partner. Ideally, these are healthy interdependent relationships that allow both parties to thrive. But, what if one of you becomes clingy or emotionally dependent on the other? It becomes an unhealthy codependent relationship. So, can the codependent relationship be saved?
Let’s find out below.
Triggers of Codependency
A codependency relationship involves one party voluntarily caring for their partner with a complex lifestyle issue. Here, instead of the caregiver or codependent looking inward for validation, they seek and receive self-worth from their partners to the detriment of their needs.
In addition, they feel at peace when they can control others. Hence, their self-esteem, thoughts, and feelings depend on how the other person feels or responds to them. The most common trigger of a codependent relationship is childhood emotional neglect or abuse arising from: –
- a child forced to be pseudo-parent to their young siblings due to an absentee parent;
- growing up or caring for a parent struggling with addiction;
- a child becoming a confidant to a parent going through domestic violence;
- the child of a narcissistic parent.
Top 3 Signs of Codependent Personality
#1: Your Partner Struggles with a Complex Lifestyle Issue
One party in a codependent relationship struggles with alcoholism, drugs and substance abuse, chronic gambling, mental health complications, eating disorders, physical disability, or overall irresponsible behavior. It is this need that makes it possible for a codependent relationship to thrive.
#2: You Are the Caregiver or People Pleaser in the Relationship
Codependents feel a constant urge to “save others”. Whereas this behavior sounds admirable, these individuals go further and want to fix problems or challenges on behalf of their partners. For example, they may try to treat an alcoholic spouse but only end up enabling the addiction. Besides, they make their partners dependent on them for everything, further worsening the situation.
#3: Emotional Intimacy is Not Easy for You
Most codependents struggle with low self-esteem and trust issues. In turn, they may avoid active physical contact. For example, they may look emotionless when hugged. Others don’t know how to respond when others praise them. This inability to form emotional intimacy makes them not able to sustain a long-term relationship. Even when they do, they have insatiable sexual desire since their needs are never fully met in the relationship.
Fixing Your Codependent Relationship
Can the codependent relationship be saved? Let’s take the self-evaluation approach here.
#1: Take a Break
Yes, anytime you sense you are in a toxic relationship, including codependency, find a safe way to break away from it. This detachment helps you look back at the relationship with a rational and unbiased perspective. Use this time alone to listen to your thoughts and feelings to discover the new you.
Here are some ideas to help you take a break from a codependent relationship: –
- Acknowledge that you are in a toxic relationship
- Decide to pursue a healthy and loving relationship
- Seek self-compassion as you detox your former beliefs and values that sustained the codependent relationship
Note that detaching from a toxic relationship is never easy. Without a coping mechanism, you may find yourself running back to pick up where you left. Then, opt to live one day at a time, rewarding yourself for small milestones. Also, fill this sudden void by surrounding yourself with positivity. It could be listening to affirmations or practicing self-care.
#2: Rediscover Yourself
Codependent relationships make us neglect our needs as we seek validation from other people. Like, do you recall your identity before getting into this unhealthy union? Rediscover yourself by prioritizing yourself for a change. Use the “me time” to listen to yourself, prioritize your happiness, and show yourself some love. Here are some ways you can practice self-care:
- Spare some time to explore nature
- Binge-watch your favorite comedy series
- Take a spiritual bath
- Revisit your hobbies and interests
- Pamper yourself with gifts
- Join a local gym
How do you end up becoming codependent? What are the circumstances or events that happen when you are in a codependent relationship? By understanding your triggers, you can fix your current unhealthy relationship or avoid getting into one in the future. One way to assess yourself is by journalizing your relationships.
Anytime you sense you are becoming codependent, take note of: –
- Events happening at that particular time.
- Who is in that codependent relationship?
- What emotional need do you feel fulfilled in this relationship?
#4: Have a Support System
Share what you are going through with a family member or a close friend that your trust. Also, join forums or local community support groups for other individuals breaking away from toxic relationships. It can be a one-on-one meeting with a coach, an online discussion forum, listening to a podcast, or watching YouTube videos. These resources help you understand your personality and how to heal from a toxic relationship.
#5: Establish Healthy Boundaries
Now, a codependent person finds it convenient to be in relationships where they need to fix or look after their partners. Due to this tendency, such a person struggles to set healthy boundaries. Typical signs of unhealthy boundaries include:
- Feeling overly responsible for other people’s feelings
- Fear of failure or letting other people down
- Oversharing your past experiences and using them to manipulate others
- A burst of anger when you do not get the help you want
You can set healthy boundaries by:
- Knowing what triggers you to break your boundaries
- Differentiating support and codependency
- Holding yourself responsible for your feelings only
- Practice saying “NO”
- Acknowledging and dealing with your guilty feelings
- Seeking help
We all have the carnal drive to connect to other people. However, these connections can turn into codependency when one of the parties relies on the other emotionally. So, can the codependent relationship be saved? If you suspect you are in a codependent relationship, take time to reflect on the possible triggers.
Then, seek ways to fix turn this relationship into a healthy one. It may need you to step back, assess and rediscover who you were before this connection. That way, you can establish healthy boundaries and have a support system that helps you heal one day at a time.