Love is unselfish, but how far would you go for your beloved?
You might be in a codependent relationship if there is an imbalance of power in the relationship. Codependency is when you are dependent on someone else for your own self-worth.
In codependent relationships, one person is generally the “rescuer” and the other is the “rescued”:
- Rescuer: Finds their self-worth from taking care of their partner. They love to feel needed and feel drained when they feel like they do not matter.
- Rescued: Finds their self-worth from the attention they receive from their partner. If the rescued does not feel loved, they seek attention elsewhere.
Both the rescuer and the rescued abandon themselves and are “codependent” on each other for their self-worth.
Instead of experiencing real intimacy in their relationship, they are either rescuing or being rescued. Are you in a codependent relationship?
Consider these signs that you may be in a codependent relationship:
- You believe it is your responsibility to please everyone or keep everyone happy.
- Cautious so as not to annoy or offend your partner
- Difficulty telling your partner “no”
- Prioritize your partner over important events like work or family wedding
- You put others’ needs before your own.
- You worry about your partner leaving you.
- Being alone makes you feel anxious.
- There are things you would like to change about your partner.
- You are tuned into your partner’s feelings, but don’t know how you feel.
- In arguments, you blame your partner for the way you feel.
Do you relate to any of those ways codependency can show up in a relationship?
Healing from codependency will require you to tune in to what you need, take responsibility for the way you feel, and accept your partner for the way they are.
Here’s what you can do to change your codependent relationship to an intimate relationship:
One of the most important steps to take when you realize you are in a codependent relationship is to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself.
- Build self-esteem. Codependency stems from low self-esteem. Build your confidence so that you no longer depend on your partner or the relationship for happiness.
- Start exercising.
- Pick up new hobbies.
- Repeat positive affirmations daily.
- Journal. If you are in a codependent relationship, you are probably unaware of your own needs or even how to support your own well-being. Journaling will help you keep track of the way you feel. Regularly include these prompts in your journaling:
- What is important to you?
- What can you do to support your well-being today?
- What do you need? How can you give yourself what you need?
- Focus on what you can control. You can’t control other people’s words, feelings, or actions. Instead of worrying about those things you can’t control, learn to accept others as they are.
- Focus your energy on things you can control, like your words, actions and behavior.
- Learn not to take things personally.
- Ask yourself why triggering events make you feel a certain way.
- Practice saying no. You might struggle with saying no because you fear “no” will hurt someone’s feelings or harm the way they think about you. Before you say yes to something, ask yourself: Am I doing this because I would love to, or am I doing this because of fear?
- Accept it is not your job to fix someone else’s issues. You might get a part of your self-worth from rescuing others and fixing their issues. If that’s the case, remind yourself that it is not your job to rescue others.
- Take responsibility for your happiness. Do small things to make yourself happy each day. Instead of finding happiness from the approval of your partner, practice making yourself happy.
- Accept your partner as they are. You cannot control whether or not your partner changes. Instead of hoping your partner will change, accept your partner for who they are.
Shifting from a codependent relationship to an intimate relationship will be challenging. Prioritizing yourself over your partner might feel uncomfortable at first.
But growing out of your codependent relationship will help you experience a truly intimate relationship that empowers you to grow and thrive together.