It’s one thing doing things for your partner out of the goodness of your heart. But if you feel like you’re overexerting yourself, doing everything for your S.O. and get nothing in return, you could be in a codependent relationship. Unlike in a healthy relationship, which is mutually satisfying, people with codependency form and maintain relationships that are one-sided. If this sounds like you or your partner, you may be in a codependent relationship. Here are 10 other signs.
Codependency happens when the relationship becomes your sole source of identity. In other words, if you weren’t with this person, you’d feel lost and lonely. “If you find yourself always mentioning 'me and my boyfriend' and frequently cutting off plans with others that are important to you, then this should be a red flag to yourself,” explains Michal Naisteter, a professional matchmaker with Three Day Rule. “Make sure not to fall into the 'you complete me' trap. You should be complete on your own!”
We should all want to be with our partners and enjoy their company. “However, there is a level of independence necessary in healthy relationships that is missing in codependent relationships,” says Sarah E. Clark, a licensed therapist and relationship expert. “If you notice that you avoid going places or doing activities by yourself or with friends, then this is something you will want to address.”
Doing nice things for the ones we love is great until it goes too far. “If you notice that you only find happiness in doing things for your partner or trying to make them happy, chances are that you have developed an unhealthy pattern of codependence,” says Clark.
You need to discuss things with the person you’re in love with but also be capable of making your own decisions and not relying on them to make big decisions for you, explains relationship expert, divorce attorney and star of Untying the Knot on Bravo, Vikki Ziegler. “Codependent people are often unable to make their own independent decisions and have their own thoughts.”
This is a big sign you’re codependent because you can’t trust and allow your partner to go out without you. “It’s important to live individual lives within a relationship and give people the freedom to spend time with friends and family members,” says Ziegler.
Sam Nabil, a licensed professional counselor, says this happens one of two ways. “Your partner deliberately isolates you from your support networks by discouraging social interaction and sometimes using verbal, emotional or even physical aggression to 'send a message' that social interactions are not welcomed.” Nabil also says you may feel so embarrassed by your situation in a codependent relationship that you isolate yourself out of fear of being humiliated and shamed by your friends and family.
Though something is really bothering you, you may not speak up for fear of your partner getting mad at you. “You feel and always give in to your partner's whims and demands. It’s important to have your own opinions in a relationship, stand up for your feelings and say no when appropriate,” explains Ziegler.
There is always a reason or excuse for quitting or being let go. This is putting a strain on financial stability so you are working harder — picking up extra work or taking a second job — to make ends meet. "This is a clear example of codependence — your partner is not pulling his/her weight and you are allowing it to happen by understanding and empathizing every time there is a job left and another excuse thrown out," says Laura MacLeod, a licensed social worker and founder of From the Inside Out Project. Your partner is encouraging the codependence by allowing you to do the work for both of you.
If you find yourself making excuses and "protecting" your partner's unhealthy and damaging behavior, it’s a sign you’re in a codependent relationship. “For example, we find a lot of partners in codependent relationships excusing behaviors like domestic violence, substance abuse, etc.,” says Nabil. In addition, he adds that people in codependent relationships often prefer to bite their tongue rather than have a conversation they believe will aggravate their partner or cause conflict.
Take a look at what you are physically doing in the relationship. "For example, if laundry is your task and you have time and don't mind doing it, OK. But, if you have two jobs, make meals and manage the household — while your partner works part time or not at all — then laundry should not fall to you, says MacLeod. “In a codependent relationship, it's the 'you're better at it than I am' mentality. In a healthy relationship, the clothes are clean when you get home from your overtime shift.”
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