Codependency can creep up on you, making it hard to spot in the beginning of your relationship or marriage. With so much focus on your new partner or spouse, you may not even notice how unhealthy things have become. If you think you may be in a codependent relationship, take a look at this list of eight warning signs to see if any seem familiar.
What is a codependent relationship?
Codependency is typically defined as an emotional or behavioral condition that occurs when someone relies on another person for emotional fulfillment and/or behaves in ways that are detrimental to their health and well-being.
In other words, a codependent individual will do anything for love or approval – even if it means being repeatedly hurt by people who may not even realize they’re doing it! Many codependents tend to look for similar characteristics (being generous with time, emotions, and resources) in friends, partners, and family members. They may also be more likely than others to try rescuing others from bad situations – especially since they often feel unworthy of helping themselves.
1) Their needs are more important than yours
People who are co-dependent sacrifice their own needs, values, and ambitions for those of their partners. It’s not that they don’t care about their partner – it’s just that their first instinct is to make sure that their needs are met before theirs are. This can be difficult for people who are co-dependent as it means forfeiting many opportunities to do things they enjoy even if they meet their personal goals or aspirations. However, being able to step aside from self and put someone else first will be taken as an endearing quality by most people who meet them; if only they knew what was going on inside of them!
2) Being afraid of making decisions without your partner
In an unhealthy, co-dependent marriage, one spouse may control the other…down to clothes that are worn and shows that are watched. People with co-dependent tendencies are incredibly afraid of doing anything without their partner because they’re always worried that their partner will disapprove and want them out of their life. Codependent personalities suffer from low self-esteem and need constant reassurance that they’re loved by their significant other, even if it means letting someone else run their lives.
In order to create healthy boundaries, it’s important learn how to accept that not everyone has to like everything about you—and start making decisions without them (like where your money goes).
3) Feeling guilty all the time
Codependent personalities tend to be focused on their partners and may end up making their relationships a higher priority than other aspects of their lives. As such, they can often feel guilty if they spend time away from or don’t pay enough attention to their partners.
In addition, they are likely to feel as though they have done something wrong if something goes wrong with their partner or partner’s life—whether it was or wasn’t within your control makes no difference here; codependents tend to have an irrational sense of responsibility for others.
4) The relationship feels all-consuming
What feels like an abundance of love and care starts to become toxic. In a codependent relationship, one person’s needs become more important than another’s—and it usually happens gradually until it’s difficult to turn things around.
Codependency often happens because there was trauma or abuse in one or both parties’ childhood, but it can also be brought on by major life events, like getting married too young or having kids too early. A healthy marriage is based on mutual trust and respect—where partners put each other first without sacrificing their own well-being.
5) You keep trying to save your partner
Are you a problem-solver by nature? Do you have an urge to help your partner fix problems as soon as they arise? People who are codependent often feel compelled to intervene when their partner seems like they’re struggling with something, whether it’s work or finances or emotional distress.
In relationships, however, sometimes one person is going through something that has nothing to do with their partner at all – and trying to solve it just complicates things further (both for them and for your partner). Problems aren’t always fixable: save yourself some time and energy by letting go of trying to rescue someone who doesn’t need rescuing.
6) No outside interests anymore
When every waking moment is spent with your partner, that’s a good sign that you’re spending too much time together. You should feel comfortable taking some time alone and having some interests apart from your partner. In fact, people who spend less time together tend to be more satisfied with their marriages, according to research out of Florida State University—and they were also less likely to cheat on their partners or get divorced. Happy couples need happy alone time!
7) You’re losing your sense of identity
In order for a codependent relationship to develop, it’s key that your identity is subsumed by that of your partner’s. While it’s true we all have self-esteem issues and an ego that needs stroking from time to time, feeling as though your own opinions and wants are almost irrelevant when relating to your partner is unhealthy and scary (not least because you might lose yourself completely).
In any healthy relationship, each person will still maintain his or her own individuality and personal boundaries. But in an unhealthy one, there can be a tendency for one person to give up their sense of self-hood so that it’s easier for them to attach themselves to someone else and depend on them for all of their needs to be met. If you’re starting to feel like your identity is tied up with that of your partner—that’s a sign it might be time for some self-examination.
8) You’re not happy unless they’re happy
Are they incapable of being happy unless they have your constant attention and support? Codependency can be hard to spot because it goes both ways—they need YOU, and YOU need THEM, right? No. If one person needs another person for his or her emotional well-being, there is an unhealthy imbalance within the relationship. In order for one person to truly love another, he or she must be able to love him- or herself first… and only then will true happiness ensue.
Can therapy help codependency?
If you think your relationship, or yourself, is showing signs of codependency, therapy can help. Check out our guide on “How to Find A Good Therapist” or, if you’re in Colorado, call Knot Therapy for a free consultation. We are experts in relationship healing!