5 Signs of Codependency

codependency emotional health self-awareness Jul 29, 2022

In a codependent relationship, we will often prioritize the needs and wants of our partner over our own needs. You rely on your partner for happiness and acceptance, and use your partner to fill your own internal wounds.

Codependent relationships are typically not something that just happens. Usually, codependency forms in childhood when the children's needs are not met and instead have to put their parent's or family's needs above their own. There can be many reasons for this, such as a toxic or narcissistic parent, a parent suffering from addiction, or simply a parent that was emotionally unavailable or unstable.

When we are dealing with a codependent relationship, we can experience and feel a lot of different things.

Here are the 5 main signs that you could be in a codependent relationship:

1. Loss of Self
When we tie our values and happiness to another person, it can be difficult to be alone with ourselves and do things independently. This could be doing old hobbies that we used to love or simply sitting with our own thoughts. It is easier to focus our attention on someone else rather than focusing on our own needs. You may even cancel plans to carve out even more time to spend with your partner, missing out on opportunities to connect with other people.

A large part of a codependent relationship is putting another person's needs above yourself. Putting another person's need above your own for acceptance and love shows a lack of self-esteem.

It can be extremely difficult for us to set time aside and take care of our mental and emotional health. If you have a hard time tearing yourself away to do things for yourself without feeling guilty, even when your partner is not around, it can be a sign of codependency.

2. Poor Communication
A huge sign of a codependent relationship is poor communication. There is a fear of expressing your own needs, where you feel like expressing yourself would somehow go against what your partner needs.

You feel that you are asking for too much by speaking up for something that you need, especially from your partner. It's easy to become reactive when we feel like we can't share or be open with our emotions. You can become defensive and easily internalize any sign of criticism. When we lose sight of our own needs, it makes it harder to set boundaries separating ourselves from our partner.

3. Lack of Boundaries
The lack of boundaries means not respecting your space, time, and mental energy and accepting that you are not responsible for the other person's happiness.

When we talk about a lack of boundaries in a relationship, we are not only talking about a partner neglecting or pushing your boundaries using guilt or fear. We are also talking about a lack of boundaries in the attempt to change your partner for the better. When we feel the need to care for someone's emotional and physical well-being, there is a certain amount of pressure placed on ourselves to be their caretaker. This becomes an issue when we try to make choices for them in an attempt to help them better themselves; save themselves from their own toxic or negative behaviors.

4. People Pleasing
This is the need and tendency to please other people all the time, even if it comes at our own expense. People pleasing can stem from wanting to do everything right, and if we don't, feeling insecure and fearful that we will be abandoned.

5. Caretaking
Because there is an intense need to put others above yourself, it is easy to put yourself into a caretaker role, where you feel compelled to take care of someone all of the time. The caretaker role is done less out of love and more out of fear of something bad happening if you don't.

This could be you picking up the pieces every time something goes wrong, or holding their hand to guide them through uncomfortable or difficult situations. The other person can even push the narrative that you are in charge of their emotions or behaviors by blaming you for their mistakes and choices.

"I wouldn't have done that if you were there."
"If you took care of that like I told you to, I wouldn't have messed up!"

When we are codependent and stuck in a caretaker role, we use other people to fill a void in ourselves by putting our focus on someone else to receive that love and validation. When we focus on pouring ourselves into other people, we can unconsciously seek out people who we can take care of. We can seek out people who can meet our emotional needs or rely on us to help guide and fix them.

What you can do

To break free from a codependent relationship, it is important to set and enforce boundaries, both for your benefit and your partner. Then seek out a support network that can include friends, family, or even a professional counselor. Changing deep-seated behaviors can be extremely difficult, but it can be done.