If you’re in a codependent relationship, you will find yourself acting like this relationship is more important than your own happiness or well-being. Although this approach typically stems from love and devotion, it can easily lower self-esteem and lead to an exhaustingly unequal distribution of responsibility. Here are eight of the key warning signs that a codependent relationship is a problem in your relationship.
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1. Your partner’s success matters more than your own
It’s clearly important to support your partner’s dreams, but not at the expense of all of your own ambitions. If you always see your partner’s goals as significant and lofty while feeling like your own are meager in comparison, you are selling yourself short. Unfortunately, codependent people regularly give up on exciting opportunities to ensure that their partners enjoy success, even when outside observers note that this pattern is unhealthy.
2. You pay a high price to be in the relationship
If you’re codependent relationship, you will regularly find yourself sacrificing your mental, emotional, or physical well-being in order to sustain the relationship at any cost. To objectively assess whether you do this, try writing a list of all the things you’ve given up to keep this relationship going. In examining the list tells you that you have compromised your autonomy and transformed your life to suit your partner’s priorities, your relationship is marginalizing your needs. Practicing self-care and learning that it is sometimes okay to say ‘no’ are vital steps in becoming more independent.
3. Being away from your partner is deeply unsettling
Most people miss their partners when other aspects of life get in the way of being together. However, if you feel panicked, lost, or anxious if you can’t be around your partner, this reaction suggests you are unhealthily reliant on this other person. A lack of self-sufficiency can erode your sense of identity as well as your confidence, leaving you feeling that you are nothing more than an extension of your partner. Sometimes, tackling these feelings requires conscious reflection on the fact that life could (and would) go on if the relationship ended.
4. You struggle to express negative thoughts and feelings
Even the most comfortable and compassionate relationships involve grievances and areas of conflict. If you find it hard or impossible to own negative reactions and discuss feelings of hurt or irritation with your partner, you may be inappropriately blaming yourself for having these responses. Perhaps you fear that your partner will leave you if you ever object to anything, or you believe that you only deserve love if you can be perfectly accommodating,
5. Your self-worth is defined by your partner
Do you struggle to feel good about any of your accomplishments or positive attributes unless you have received positive feedback from your partner? Self-doubt and lack of confidence in your own achievements are hallmark signs of codependence, and you may notice that you also displayed this behavior earlier in life. Many codependent relationship people grew up experiencing similar dynamics with parents, siblings, or friends.
6. You blame yourself for your partner’s mistakes
Everyone has flaws and weaknesses that occasionally lead to poor choices or hurtful remarks. However, codependent relationship people find it difficult to accept that their partners can make mistakes, instead of blaming themselves when their partner’s uglier side appears. Sadly, believing that you cause all of your own pain can leave you with very little self-respect and cultivate a profound sense of anxiety. In addition, this type of self-flagellation can encourage your partner to view themselves as ideal, thereby enabling their worst behaviors.
7. You put more effort into nurturing the relationship
In a classic codependent relationship, one partner is self-centered and unpredictable, leaving the more insecure partner with the apparent responsibility of ‘keeping things together.’ As a result, you may be the only one worrying about maintaining peace or arranging ways to spend quality time together. Although you might even feel quite proud of your strength and your continued ability to ensure the relationship’s success, this division of labor is far from fair.
8. You feel that you’ll never have another chance to be happy
If you’re codependent relationship, you probably think that this relationship represents your only shot at true love. As a result, you might put up with an uncomfortable, empty, or persistently difficult relationship out of fear. Although you may spend much of your time feeling devalued, you likely only feel any kind of happiness when your partner gives you the positive response you crave. This experience further reinforces your belief that happiness exists only within the relationship, and a vicious cycle emerges.
While a codependent relationship isn’t the healthiest kind, therapy can help you and your partner understand why you have adopted these roles and encourage you to learn new ways of behaving. In time, you can develop a more even distribution of responsibility and cultivate greater self-sufficiency.