Have you cared for someone until it hurts? Or do you feel trapped in a relationship? That could be a sign of codependency.
You’ve heard that, right?
Although codependency is not a new word in the English dictionary, many don’t know what it means. And may have exhibited several signs of codependency in their lives and relationships without knowing.
That is why you should read this post to learn about codependency and the signs of codependency in your relationship (be it a marriage or friendship). You’ll also learn how to fix it.
What is a Codependent relationship?
A codependent relationship is an unhealthy relationship where one party seeks to achieve his/her emotional needs at the expense of the other party’s emotional wellbeing. In other words, you can say a codependent relationship is a one-sided relationship.
That is because, in this type of relationship, one of the parties gives the other party an enabling atmosphere to maintain their addictive or irresponsible tendencies. But why? You would ask.
There are a couple of causes of codependency. But psychological researchers have observed that the childhood experiences of an individual can determine, to a large extent, if he/she would take up codependent behaviors.
Thus, they believe that people who grew up in dysfunctional homes or families, or those that stayed with a sick parent and have the need to provide care, tend to be codependency.
Signs of a Codependent relationship
While many people ask what codependency means in a relationship, codependency comes in different ways. But some of these can be subtle that a codependent person may not realize on time that he’s putting up codependent behaviors.
But before outlining and explaining the symptoms of codependency, you should go through the following questions:
(because that will help you have a practical grasp of codependency symptoms)
- Is giving up your interest or hobbies something you do to allow the interests or hobbies of someone else?
- Do you have a hard time focusing on yourself but on other people?
- Do you treat the opinions of others with so much more value than yours?
- Do you feel obliged to spend more time helping others solve their problems?
- Do you esteem how someone else feels rather than how you are feeling?
- Do you think how you feel or react to things is hinged on the approval and love you get from someone else?
- Do you think the fear of rejection is a factor that determines what you say to someone else in a relationship?
- Do you lower your standards or suspend your values to connect with someone else?
- When you finally relieve the pain or problem of a person you’re in a relationship with, do you feel better?
Signs of Codependency
1. Excessive caretaking
Do you have a hard time focusing on yourself but on other people? This is one of the nine questions asked above. While you probably have answered the question, the fact remains that codependent persons are consumed by things that concern others rather than those that relate to themselves.
That is because they feel they are accountable for the well-being of the other person in the relationship, even if that requires them burning their skins.
Everybody wants to possess control over many things in their lives, which is a good thing. That’s because it offers a sense of safety and security. But then, trying to control the behaviors of others, especially loved ones, could be a sign of codependency.
And a codependent person who exhibits this behavior becomes sorely bitter when others don’t accept his advice.
3. Fear of abandonment
Fear of abandonment is one of the symptoms of a codependent relationship as one of the parties is scared of being left alone, rejected, or abandoned. For this reason, the codependent fellow is unable or unwilling to ask for what he/she wants by suppressing his/her need(s) and how he/she is feeling.
And usually, codependent individuals would indirectly communicate their feelings while they justify their actions that they’re trying to be unselfish.
4. Poor or Lack of boundaries
In a relationship, setting boundaries involves communicating how you feel and want to be treated by the other person. Remember, you command how you want people to treat or regard you.
But that’s not the case in a codependent relationship, where one party keeps allowing shits because he/she has failed to set firm boundaries (how he wants to be treated) in different situations.
5. Low self-esteem is an underlying sign of codependency
Low self-esteem is an underlying cause of codependency. But beyond this, low self-esteem is a sign portrayed by a codependent person in a relationship.
Someone with low self-esteem will always seek out, try to keep and maintain a relationship that is not healthy and fulfilling. People with poor self-esteem find it stark to ask for help from others because they don’t see themselves as lovable. Instead, they would seek and value the approval of others to find love.
6. Trying to please others
One of the signs of a codependent relationship is that one party tries to please the other person. So, the codependent fellow finds it hard to say, No, and when they do, the feeling of anxiety floods their minds.
Relationships or friendships are supposed to be mutually interdependent, but when one is overly dependent on the other for his/her happiness. In such a case, you should know that codependency has set in.
That explains why some people slide into depression when they are alone. And therefore, they are always in a relationship because their staying alive is tied to that.
Other Signs of codependency
We’ve looked at the seven codependency symptoms that make a loving relationship become a toxic relationship. But the following are other signs you can find in a man or woman who is codependent:
- Having high expectations of others
- Frequently sliding into depression because of what someone said to you
- Experiencing extreme discomfort and uneasiness when not in a relationship
- Trying to form relationships with unreliable, dependent, and emotionally distant fellows.
- Scared of confrontations
Codependent behavior examples
Codependency is not an abstract concept and can happen in any relationship, including relationships with family members, romantic relationships, or as the case may be. Thus, below are practical examples of codependency:
Example of signs of codependency: Case one
Anderson and Pauline have engaged in a romantic relationship for a while. More than once, Anderson had returned home in a state of drunkenness, only to beat Pauline before the night fell out.
Yet Pauline still covers up this reality from those around her.
Example of signs of codependency: Case two
Adewale stays with his elder brother Kunle, who’s into trading electronic products in a physical shop. Also, Adewale has been helping Kunle with sales in the store.
But now, Adewale wants to learn a six-month computer course but has been unable to because of the feeling that he may upset his elder brother Kunle, who has helped him a lot.
Example of signs of codependency: Case three
Joseph and Malik are friends. Joseph has some projects he’s working on, but upon receiving a call from Malik, who needed his assistance, Joseph agreed to help him even though that would affect his work.
Signs of codependency in friendships
The seven signs of codependency mentioned above apply to friendships too. However, below are some symptoms that you or your friend is codependent:
- Burned the bridges to other friendships and abandoned things that matter to you. A typical example is a situation that exists between Thompson and Richard. Thompson would give up playing basketball or attending to his younger brother’s assignment from school to spend time with Richard.
- One party depends on the other party to satisfy his/her need. For example, Jessica is friends with Jane, who usually feels obliged to be responsible for Jessica’s feelings, actions, choices, or general well-being especially when she’s around Jessica.
- Acting jealous out of the fear of being abandoned. Sophia and Simi are friends. But when Simi begins to socialize with her other friends, Sophia becomes helpless and can’t control the jealousy that builds up in her.
- Desire to save or control your friend. This happens when you feel you’ve got to be the superhero that always helps your friend, whether in making a choice or as the case may be.
- Only one party is doing the giving and sacrificing.
Signs of codependency in marriage
Being in marriage appears to be codependent in itself. However, codependency in marriage is a situation whereby one partner is dependent on the other for his/her emotional needs.
Some of the signs of codependency in a relationship include:
- fear of abandonment
- taking up the responsibility of your partners upon shoulders
- You experience difficulty communicating how you feel or your frustration with the relationship without mincing words
- Put your needs second or last while your partner’s interests come first.
- Your emotional state is dependent on what is happening to your spouse.
How to fix codependency in your relationships
The emotional uneasiness caused by codependency can be overwhelming. And one may wonder if fixing the issues of codependency in their relationships or friendships is achievable.
Below are tips on how to get out of a codependent relationship:
1. Seek private or other forms of helpful therapy
Since codependency is caused by some underlying factors deeply seated in the heart, you may need the help of some professionals.
2. Don’t always be Martyr; ask for help
Are codependent symptoms ashamed of seeking help? The earlier one admits that one cannot do everything alone, the better. And you may need to unlearn the ideology you once had that asking for help makes you feel weak.
3. Read good books
Remember the old sage saying, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” And one of the ways to positively influence your thoughts is by reading good books. Thus you can then create a list of the books you intend to read; they could be on how to get rid of codependency, mental health, or spiritual books that help you establish peace and practice gratitude.
4. Discover who you want to be
You can learn to enjoy alone time and solitude to reach out to inner strength and discover your values and interests. This will require constant practice, especially if you’re the type who finds the difficult thirty with yourself, except you’re sleeping.
5. Reach out to those who can relate to what you’re going through
In reaching out for help, you know the persons you’re reaching out to. You may want to ask yourself the question, can they relate to your experience? Have you been through what you’re going through? Or do they have the emotional maturity to render meaningful help to you?
6. Learn to become more as you build a powerful self-esteem
Building excellent self-esteem and confidence comes with knowing your identity and what (and who) you want to be. It will take a level of self-awareness and, of course, paying attention to what matters to you— and your happiness.
7. Establish boundaries
After the issue of self-esteem is addressed, you must learn to set boundaries in your relationships and interpersonal interactions with people. People will only give the respect you’ve requested through your boundaries and standards.
A final thought on Signs of Codependency
Indeed, there are different symptoms of codependency in a relationship. And one has observed one or two (even more) of these codependent behaviors. But the good news is that anyone who wants to get out of a codependent relationship can do so by first practicing self-care. Note, that self-care is not selfishness.