Codependency is a relationship where both partners are so wrapped up in each other that they can’t function separately. This can be damaging to both people involved, and it often leads to frustration and unhappiness in the long run.
If you’re stuck in this type of relationship, don’t worry—there is hope.
According to experts, here are ways to fix a codependent relationship and start reclaiming your independence.
Relationship Expert and Editor in Chief, Her Way
Be honest and talk about it with your partner
The first step is always honesty. I mean, you can’t expect to solve a problem unless you’re strong enough to identify it. Before anything else, you have to be honest with yourself and admit that this romantic relationship you’re in is nowhere near healthy.
The next thing is to talk about it with your partner. You both must accept the fact that you’re in a codependent relationship. Of course, you both have to be willing to work on this problem together. This is the only way to save your relationship!
Related: How to Break Codependency Habits
Self-love is mandatory
You love your partner. Or at least, you think you do. But let’s not get into that now. Instead, let’s discuss a more important kind of relationship you should be more focused on.
If you wonder what relationship in your life could be more important than the one you have with your significant other, you’ve got yourself a problem because guess what? The relationship you have with yourself is much more important. I guess you forgot all about it, and that’s why you’re here right now.
I know that saying “love yourself” is much easier than actually doing it, but you have to start somewhere.
Related: Why Is Self Love Important?
Start with treating yourself the way you would treat someone you care about—a close family member or a best friend. That’s right, treat yourself with kindness and respect every human being in this world deserves.
Find yourself again; your partner has to do the same
You were a person before you got into this relationship—a real-life person—not just someone’s romantic partner.
You were an individual:
- A sibling
- a friend
- A career man/woman
- A daugther/a son
Then, with time, it’s like everything has faded away. You ceased to exist as this individual, and you reduced your entire personality to just one role: that of someone’s significant other.
Well, if you want to fix your codependent relationship, you have to find yourself once again. And, of course, your partner has to do the same.
Start by questioning your core values.
- What are the things you believe in?
- What is right and what is wrong?
- What is morally acceptable and non-acceptable?
- When was the last time you thought about these things?
But I mean, actually think about it.
The same goes for your likes and dislikes. What kind of music do you like to listen to? What about movies? Taste in food?
Forget about your partner’s preferences and ask yourself these questions as if they weren’t around. Sadly, you’ll realize that you’ve changed much about yourself to fit in with them.
Work on personal achievements
You’re a great mom/dad. You take care of the household. You manage the finances, cook dinner daily, and run errands. And the list goes on infinitely. In fact, everyone would praise you for all the hard work you’ve been doing.
I’m not here to say anything against it. Instead, I’ll just ask: What about your personal achievements? When was the last time you did something for yourself, even if it meant reading that book you bought ages ago?
You want to start learning a new language? Now is the perfect time to do so!
Here’s a tip for you: Write a success journal. This will help you love yourself much more once you see how far you’ve gone.
Learn the difference between being alone and lonely
There is a huge difference between being alone and lonely, and it’s about time you learn it. I know that being by yourself and spending time without your partner scares you the most but trust me, it’s precisely what you need to fix this relationship.
No, I’m not talking about necessarily taking a break from your romance. If you live together, you’re free to continue doing so. If you date, go on dates; just try reducing the frequency of your get-togethers.
The trick is to learn to enjoy your own company. To give each other enough space to stop being codependent.
I know that being alone and away from your SO is the end of the world. However, once you see that nothing bad will happen on your time, you’ll become less and less addicted to your partner.
Reconnect with friends
Fixing a codependent relationship is not an easy task. Sometimes, you won’t know how to do it alone with your partner, and you’ll need some help from the outside.
That’s perfectly fine. I’m not telling you to listen to other people’s advice, especially if they’re coming from those who are not familiar with your situations and emotions.
However, you can “use” your old friends to help you get through your addiction. I can bet one thing: you’ve lost touch with most of them because you wanted to spend all of your time with your SO. Well, now it’s time to forget about your pride, call them, and ask them to hang out.
But here’s a rule: you’re not allowed to talk about your relationship at these get-togethers. You’re not allowed to complain about your SO or brag about your happiness! You’re going through a mental detoxication!
Start setting healthy boundaries
One of the reasons your relationship has gotten to this point lies in the fact that you and your SO haven’t set some boundaries on time.
In fact, the truth is that you underwent a kind of collision in which you’ve become one. As romantic as this sounds, it’s exactly what brought you here in the first place. That is why you must start setting healthy boundaries now.
For example, your partner can’t be invited to your time with your friends. Or they shouldn’t be in the room whenever you talk to your parents. Or agree not to call each other every five minutes when you’re not together.
The choice is all yours. What matters is that these boundaries have to be directed towards ending this codependence.
Work on your self-esteem
The next step is to boost your self-confidence. Another “easier said than done” item on the list, I know. But trust me, you’re in a codependent relationship because you think you’re not worthy enough.
You assume that your SO is the only one who could ever love you, so you hold on to them as you’d hold on for dear life. For that to change, you must get rid of your insecurities and start seeing yourself as valuable again.
The best way to start boosting your self-esteem is with the help of positive affirmations. Every morning, when you get up, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat things such as:
- “I am worthy.”
- “I am attractive.”
- “I am capable.”
- “I am intelligent.”
- “I am loveable.”
Talk to a counselor
If nothing above helps, please don’t hesitate to go to therapy. Of course, both you and your SO should visit a couple counseling for it to work.
Numerous licensed professionals know exactly what you’re going through. They’ll help you identify the core of your problem and will give you a hand through the process of resolving it.
Amanda Baquero, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Rise and Thrive Counseling
Figure out and set healthier boundaries
Partners in codependent relationships tend to have very “loose” boundaries. This can look like saying yes to things that make you uncomfortable or putting aside what is important to you for the sake of your partner.
To set better boundaries with your partner, you need to take a self-inventory and figure out what your current boundaries look like.
- What is important to you
- What behaviors make you uncomfortable
- What your limits are
- What areas in your life are being affected by your current lack of boundaries (e.g., financial, emotional, physical)
Next, you can decide what new boundaries you want to set, such as saying “no” when your partner asks to borrow cash, and begin setting them. This may be difficult at first as it may lead to complicated feelings for both you and your partner.
But, if you stick to them, you both will get used to these new boundaries over time, and you will feel more comfortable and safe in your relationship in the long term.
Turn the attention from your partner toward yourself
When we are in a codependent relationship, we often focus most of our attention on our partners.
We walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting them, spend all of our time trying to please them, and lose track of ourselves along the way.
In order to repair a codependent relationship, you need to take a step back and begin turning that attention towards yourself. Take time to get to know yourself as intimately as you know your partner. Discover and cultivate your individual hobbies, interests, relationships, and self-esteem.
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on yourself to make a relationship better. However, when you build a stronger, more positive relationship with yourself, you can show up for yourself and your partner more genuinely and intentionally.
As a bonus, you will have more things to discuss and share with each other when you spend time together!
Stop trying to “fix” your partner’s problems
A big issue couples experience in codependent relationships is trying to “fix” the other person or solve their problems. In a codependent relationship, you often find yourself so focused on the other person that you become overly involved in their problems and emotional ups and downs.
Because of this, you feel responsible for helping them overcome their issues and try to “fix” everything for them.
If your partner is addicted to alcohol, you may find yourself throwing away their stash or checking in with them every hour. If they are experiencing depression, maybe you are constantly pushing them to go to therapy and reminding them to take their medication daily.
You may think you are just being helpful, but in fact, this creates an unhealthy pattern. Your partner won’t learn how to manage their problems, and you won’t be able to work on your own.
If you find yourself stuck in this pattern, you should identify when you find yourself stepping in and practice holding yourself back during these times.
It may be challenging to watch your partner fail or experience consequences, but just remember that this will help them become more able to care for themselves in the long term.
Thinking of ourselves first is a major one
I can’t honestly say we can “fix” codependent relationships. As therapists, what we can do is help clients work on improving themselves so that their relationships are no longer codependent.
Sometimes doing self-repair forces both people in a relationship to grow, but often the opposite happens: the person “fixing” themselves fails to get their needs met and eventually breaks off the attachment, or the person with whom they were codependent can’t adjust to a healthier relationship and ends it.
What kind of person chooses codependent relationships?
These people are fairly easy to spot: one or both people in the relationship are over-focused on meeting the physical and emotional needs of each other.
As a therapist, you ask them, “How are you?“ and they tell you how their partner, spouse, or child is doing because how this person is faring is more important to them than how they, themselves, are doing.
In a nutshell, their well-being is based on how others manage or feel.
People who choose codependent relationships have little sense of self. They don’t tune into or embrace their feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs because they are ashamed of having them—except as they relate to ensuring that others feel good or not feel bad.
What’s wrong with codependent relationships?
Mental health means taking care of ourselves and others. We should never have to choose one over the other as an ongoing way of relating to someone.
Living for and through others leaves us with not much of a life of our own because our value solely depends on their well-being.
When we lose ourselves in another person, we surrender our authenticity, sense of self-worth, and efficacy. And, since we can’t control others’ happiness, we end up on a fool’s errand.
What needs to be fixed within us to avoid or leave codependent relationships?
There are essential qualities and skills that reduce codependence.
Thinking of ourselves first is a major one. This doesn’t mean that we always put ourselves first, but we always consider how and what we say or do will affect us, along with thinking about how it will impact others.
We need to be okay with sometimes getting our way and sometimes letting someone else get theirs. We need to see ourselves as separate from as well as connected to others, with each person responsible for their own choices.
What if fixing ourselves hurts others?
We also need to allow ourselves to hurt others and tolerate feeling uncomfortable about it.
Codependent people go out of their way to avoid causing emotional discomfort to others when being in a healthy relationship involves hurting and then healing feelings.
Constantly over-empathizing to prevent hurt stunts both personal and relational growth. If we never hurt, how can we grow?
If we fix our codependence problems, will that fix the relationship?
Our goal needs to improve at focusing on, accepting, and expressing our needs.
If our partner welcomes or tolerates this shift, they might also change. They might be glad we’re putting our needs first and taking better care of ourselves.
But, equally possible is that our pulling away from prioritizing their happiness makes them feel rejected or abandoned and upset or angry. They do everything in their power to get us to return to our codependent selves. However, we can’t grow if we don’t change.
Clinical Psychologist | Speaker | Author, “Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly“
In general, a codependent person tends to lose their own identity in a relationship. To feel safe and loved, the codependent person will often carry the emotional load in the relationship.
In many cases, the codependent person actively or passively supports the partner in continuing irresponsible or addictive behaviors. This comes at a great cost to the person’s self-esteem and sense of personal autonomy.
Related: Why is Self Esteem Important?
The codependent person is generally unaware of the consequences of their behavior and doesn’t even realize they are codependent. In many cases, they are simply carrying on patterns that a parent or caregiver modeled.
In essence, the codependent person wants to be loved and to feel safe at any cost. Clearly, codependent relationships can be highly dysfunctional and can lead to serious issues, including domestic violence.
Fixing codependent relationships takes time, effort, and wisdom, but healthy changes can surely be made.
A few tips for correcting codependent relationships are:
Ensure that kindness and loving behaviors occur in both directions
The codependent often douses the partner with TLC, yet the partner does little or nothing in return. To change this dynamic, strive for balance and ask the other partner to engage in loving actions.
Work hard to strengthen poor boundaries
The codependent generally has poor boundaries and will do whatever the partner asks without considering how it affects them. Engage in work with a therapist or support group to strengthen your boundaries.
In general, the best way to fix codependency is to create clear, healthy boundaries. When each person has strong, positive boundaries, the relationship will grow positively.
When boundaries become blurred or enmeshed, codependency often results.
Work to state your feelings and needs
Those in codependent relationships often minimize their own feelings and needs; this often leads to anxiety, stress, or depression often arise.
As you learn to speak your truth, you’ll no longer marginalize yourself; codependent behaviors will naturally lessen.
Strive to communicate and act in assertive ways
Passive or passive-aggressive behaviors can be a part of codependency. Out of fear that their needs will never be met, the codependent often acts passive-aggressive ways to achieve their goals.
Sometimes, too, passive behaviors become the go-to coping mechanism. As you strive to communicate and act in clear, assertive, and respectful ways, your codependent patterns will begin to resolve.
If your relationship feels too stuck to fix on your own, it’s always wise to seek support from a skilled psychotherapist. You deserve to have a safe, fulfilling, and healthy relationship.
CEO and Matchmaker, Exclusive Matchmaking
You need intensive work as an individual and as a couple to realize what’s going on
When it comes to fixing a codependent relationship, you must first realize you are in one. Hopefully, that comes before you are so overwhelmed and emotionally worn out that you just need to take a serious break from your partner.
You need intensive work as an individual and some as a couple for the other person to realize what’s going on. Your partner must also step up to the plate to help change the dynamic.
Sometimes it’s hard to spot because women have mostly been brought up to be nurturers. But when one of you gets to the point that you are overlooking your own needs to the point that you don’t know where you begin and end because you are so enmeshed with the other person, it’s a serious problem.
Your partner is used to the dynamic of being cared for and having their every need met. If suddenly, you appear to go on strike, it sets the relationship in a tailspin if they are more of a taker and used to being catered to.
A more independent partner will want what’s best for you and do everything to help you achieve balance.
Believe it or not, as a matchmaker, I see this problem often when people divorce and come to me for love. This is their pattern. They sometimes overwhelm their partners and become very dependent emotionally on them, which prevents them from being a happy, whole person.
It’s a pattern developed in childhood and needs to be brought to the forefront and addressed and rewired because:
- It suffocates the codependent one.
- It snuffs out their excitement for both partners.
- It leaves the codependent exhausted with no sense of identity.
A few things to help:
Both of you need couples counseling for your codependency
If this has developed due to a family member’s alcohol or drug problem, you might need counseling that is provided for family members in addition to counseling for you.
This is true even if it happened long ago. It must be addressed for you to be whole and emotionally healthy.
Both of you need couples counseling to understand the dynamic, so the other doesn’t suddenly feel jilted. Also, they need to understand their part, where they need to step up to the plate and help you, and what they are expected to do for themselves.
Learn to set boundaries for yourself
It may feel uncomfortable, but you need them. Both partners need to understand you alone are the keeper of your joint happiness.
Learn to say no and feel comfortable taking time for yourself. It feels weird doing that, but it’s central to your individual happiness.
Take care of yourself and engage in your own hobbies and interests. Remember, you have unique needs, and you need to tend to yourself as well. You need to be interesting as a person as well.
Allow the other to be responsible for him or herself
Codependence is based on a belief that it loves to make another happy, even at your own expense.
The first step to eliminating codependence in a relationship is to know, down deep, that sometimes the most loving thing you can do may cause another temporary pain. But to remain codependent is to support the other’s irresponsibility—and that is not loving!
One of the classic symptoms of codependency is feeling resentful:
- Tired of being used
- Exhausted from cleaning up another’s messes
- Realizing that you are suffering the consequences of another’s choices
The final step is to set an appropriate boundary to take care of yourself and allow the other to be responsible for him or herself.
My first lesson in disconnecting from codependency was with a workman hired to build sewing cabinets for me. He got started and then repeatedly failed to show up to finish the job.
I was nice, polite, and understanding for nine long months! Finally, I recognized that supporting his lies and irresponsibility was not loving.
I asked him, “When is the earliest you can finish this job?” He answered, “Next Wednesday.” I replied, “Then, every day after next Wednesday that the job isn’t completed, I will reduce the balance I owe you by $20.”
He showed up on Monday and finished the job—he was surly. I was polite.
When you set a boundary, it must include a consequence if the boundary isn’t honored. Otherwise, the boundary is powerless. It’s the pain of the consequence that makes the boundary effective. We train others how to treat us.
You must be prepared to follow through with the consequence of not honoring the boundary, or it’s only an empty threat.
A choice that you make that is genuinely in your best interests will automatically be in the other person’s best interests as well. Eliminating codependency from a relationship allows both parties to be self-responsible and, therefore, healthier.
Psychotherapist, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist
Start checking in with yourself about your wants and needs
This may be simple for some, but for others, this may take practice. If you are always used to putting others first, it may be hard to figure out what you want.
You can start small—perhaps picking out a place for dinner or deciding what show you want to watch. It may be helpful to start checking in with your body about how things feel.
You may notice when a choice is aligned, you feel less pressure in your body, or perhaps you’ll notice some lessening of tension. Start by being curious rather than forcing yourself to know things immediately.
Recognize that it’s not your job to fix others
If you are someone who people please or try to fix others, it’s time to take a step back. You may have been praised or taught that it was good to always put others first (this may particularly overlap with social norms); that said, it is not your role to fix everyone.
It is a kind thing to help others, and you can ask if others need help. It’s important to ask yourself if this is something you want to do or if it’s something you feel you need to do.
It’s crucial to start internalizing that sacrificing the entirety of yourself for a relationship ultimately doesn’t save relationships; it ultimately just destroys you.
Start identifying boundaries and following through on them
Many people with codependent tendencies feel guilty or like they can’t say no to others. Remind yourself that boundaries are essential in any relationship to keep you physically and emotionally safe.
Sometimes, if we were taught we aren’t allowed to say no, we may feel like we’re punishing someone by setting a boundary. Remember that boundaries are often the ways that we make relationships sustainable.
Give your codependent parts some compassion
If you notice that you have codependent tendencies, you probably learned somewhere that the tendencies towards self-abandonment and the need for control helped keep you safe in some way.
Perhaps it helped you survive in your family. Maybe it helped you feel loved in some way. It’s okay to acknowledge that part of yourself with curiosity and compassion and to remind yourself that you have the ability to try new ways of relating, and it’s normal for it to feel hard to change your tendencies.
Myisha Jackson, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Owner, Healing Journey Counseling Center
Recognize that you are in one
Codependent relationships are very common; it can be an intimate relationship with a partner or a relationship with family and friends. From professional experience, I have learned that many people do not realize they are in a codependent relationship.
They could be mirroring relationships that they have witnessed growing up and thought those codependent behaviors were normal.
The first thing we must do to fix a codependent relationship is to recognize that you are in one.
Some signs of codependency in relationships are:
- Relying on the other person to make decisions
- Feeling as if you are obligated to solve their problems
- Struggling with telling them “no”
- Seeking approval and validation from them
- Changing schedules to accommodate the person
Create boundaries and break old cycles and patterns
Once you have recognized it, you must start creating boundaries. Please note that this will be challenging. You are retraining this other person and all your relationship. This will be something that likely will cause you to feel guilty or tense in your relationship.
You must recreate the relationship by breaking old cycles and patterns. Boundaries will look more like not over-accommodating the other person.
If you are not available to do something for them, then let them know. You should also start saying “no” more; it is okay to say “no” when something is inconvenient, or you just do not want to do it.
Stop trying to solve their problems and make decisions
Also, you must stop trying to solve their problems and make decisions. Instead, encourage them to explore their options and let them know you support their decision.
Relationships are supposed to be mutual with love and support, not you trying to fix the other person’s life and problems.
Annemarie Lafferty, CECP
Neuro Emotional Therapy Specialist | Owner, Healing Within Wellness
Notice the behavior and ask why you feel insecure in the relationship
Codependency stems from childhood needs not being met and looking toward other people for comfort and identity. There needs to be a balance of parents not smothering the child and giving the child autonomy; otherwise, the child will think “people” outside of themselves will continue to define them.
One way to fix a codependent relationship is to notice the behavior and ask why they feel insecure, anxious, and “not good enough” in the relationship.
They fear the relationship will end and even sabotage it because, on some level, they feel their needs aren’t being met, but in reality, there are patterns and deeper trauma to be explored.
Some behaviors to look for are being clingy, needy, smothering their partner, untrusting their partner, and unable to manage their emotions.
Mood swings and sudden insecurities are signs they are feeling overwhelmed by negative thought patterns called “negative broadcast messaging.”
Relationships are interesting because we attract our partners on levels, whether it is familiarity or comfort level. Inevitably, we outgrow some of these relationships when we have grown and evolved; codependent individuals have a hard time evolving and resent the growth of the other.
- Being honest about your feelings
- Keeping a journal, so your mind stays clear and healthy
- Attending therapy or joining groups like Codependents Anonymous (CODA)
- Exploring your childhood and emotions with a professional
Are all ways to heal a childhood where needs on some level were not met.
As an adult, once you start meeting your own needs, the codependency begins to dissolve.
Certified Narcissistic Trauma Informed Codependency Coach and Narcissistic Abuse Specialist | Founder, Bloom & Become
Release your codependency by healing your core wounds
Codependency, at its core, is a lack of self—you abandon yourself in a relationship and put other people’s feelings, thoughts, opinions, and needs above your own. It’s more than just being caring; it’s focusing on other people at the expense of yourself.
There is a lack of self-care. You can find it challenging to speak up for yourself and make your own decisions, with a lack of boundaries and often an inability to say “no.”
Why are we codependent?
Our codependency is a collection of the “parts” of us that show up to protect us from our inner wounds of not feeling good enough, worthy, or loveable enough.
Everybody has different protector parts that stop them from feeling their wound. For codependents, protector parts are often present, such as:
- People pleasing
- Emotional eating
How to fix your codependency?
Our codependency is distracting us away from these core wounds, and the only way we can release our codependency is to heal these wounds—to begin our own healing journey and focus on ourselves to feel good enough in our true selves simply for being ourselves.
Related: How to Be True to Yourself
These core inner wounds that we have that are causing our codependency come from our trauma. When we suppress our feelings and emotions around traumatic events, that’s when our trauma gets stuck in our bodies.
That is where we need to heal the trauma and our core wounds with somatic (body-based) therapies that release and process the feelings and emotions around our core wounds.
Only then can we feel worthy of showing up in relationships and being seen, heard, and validated as our true selves.
You have to begin from the inside out
When you’re in the midst of a codependent relationship, you can’t think straight—sometimes even calling your partner to make the slightest decision. Codependency can be debilitating to the mind, making you unable to see straight.
In order to fix a codependent relationship, you have to begin from the inside out. What is the root of your relationship’s codependency? Is it:
- A lack of trust?
- Overdue insecurity?
- Fear of being alone?
Whatever the reason may be, you will have to dig deep.
You need to establish your own identity, creating a necessary divide between you and your partner.
- If you both have separate friends, hobbies, memories, etc., then it will make your relationship that much better and fresher.
- Consult your partner for the big decisions (i.e., jobs, moves, children), and leave the day-to-day happenings to yourself.
- Create a schedule where your focus is on you. Your partner simply enhances your life experience but does not define your day or schedule.
- Find what puts the fire inside of you. Your physical and emotional chemistry will intensify as your independence grows.
If the codependency cannot be tamed, then you should bring an expert (marriage counselor or therapist).
Long story short: you need to separate church and state.
Katina Tarver, MA
Life and Relationship Coach, ThePleasantRelationship
Dig into the roots of the problem
It is imperative to know the root cause of the problem. Therefore, try and get to the bottom of it.
- Why does your codependent partner behave like this?
- What led to such circumstances?
- Did they grow up in a mentally challenging atmosphere?
They probably grew up amid an abusive childhood and still possess the fear of expression.
Once you get to the bottom and ascertain the actual cause, reassure them that you won’t leave them. Counsel them about moving on from the past and living in the present. Create a safe space for them to speak their heart out.
Strike a conversation clearly
Once you get an idea of the situation, break it to them. Tell them clearly how they depend on you for happiness and confidence. Also, express to them that you’ll be happier if they regain self-confidence.
Lure them to accept themselves. Explain to them how this stand will help them mentally and physically. Furthermore, define the benefits of independence.
Remind them about their dreams
Every person has dreams and goals to achieve, and a codependent partner is no different. If you know about their plans, motivate them to achieve them.
If you fail to encourage them, get yourself attached to attaining these goals, and they will get some boost. Don’t hurry to accomplish this feat because it needs time. So, take baby steps and don’t lose patience and hope.
Plan adventures for them
Your codependent partner must have gone clingy and cannot stay away a minute from you. But simply staying away won’t help. Instead, send them on a solo trip, enroll them in some courses, but just divert them into some activity.
As they spend time away from you, they will find happiness in themselves. Support them but indirectly. If they have taken a course, stay in touch with their coach to know their progress.
Founder, Dating Iconic
Both of you should be willing to make conscious efforts to work things out
A codependent relationship is a type of relationship where one party is dependent on or leeches off the other person’s efforts.
It is an unhealthy and imbalanced relationship where one goes the extra mile in making efforts to make the other person happy, while the other person just enjoys the benefits without putting in any effort.
This can occur between family, friends, co-workers, bosses, and romantic relationships. One partner could be trying to please the other person always.
There are certain telltale signs that you’re in a codependent relationship, and they include:
- Your sense of self and happiness revolved around making your partner or the other person happy.
- You feel bad about thinking of your happiness and making your own choices that are good for you.
- You have no sense of self-fulfillment except you please your partner.
- You do anything to stay in the relationship, no matter how toxic it may seem.
- Constantly lower their standards, morals, and beliefs to please the other person.
- Having an unclear definition of how you feel about the relationship.
- You constantly try to change the other person.
- Taking responsibility for their bad behavior or excesses.
- You always want your partner in your space and have trouble enjoying your company.
- You have trouble making plans that don’t revolve around your partner and have trouble socializing with friends.
- You are afraid to demand certain things from your partner because you’re scared of what they would say.
- When you try to create healthy spaces for yourself, your partner aggravates their character and acts like their feelings alone matter.
All these and more are signs that you are in a codependent relationship.
You may be the giver or the receiver; however, so much can be remedied out of a codependent relationship.
Seek opinions from family and friends
It may be difficult to access your relationship because you’re the one living it. But having a different perspective from trusted people who have known you and can tell if there have been any changes would go a long way in helping you realize if your relationship is codependent or not.
Do some self-evaluation
Ask yourself if you have veered away from the path you set for yourself and gone against the values you believe in for the sake of your partner.
Ask yourself if you’re happy in the relationship and if your happiness comes from any other thing asides from making your partner happy (directly or indirectly).
In addition, check your past relationships, look for patterns that you or your partner exhibited that didn’t work out or had similar outcomes, and check if those things contributed to how you felt in the relationship.
Often, codependency repeatedly occurs if you don’t know that you’re indeed in a codependent relationship.
When you realize where your faults lay and tabled down the signs you noticed and were told off, you and your partner should communicate effectively.
Identify patterns of codependency, own your faults, and work on setting boundaries
Identify patterns of codependency, own your faults, work on setting boundaries that would help the relationship, and create time for your partner and other activities and friends outside your relationship.
Seeing a therapist that would help you work out your differences would also help. Having someone you can check in with to see if you have improved will help assess if the relationship is working on becoming a less codependent one.
What’s important is that you and your partner are willing and making conscious efforts to work things out.
If your partner refuses to change or their actions do not match their words, you should end the relationship and heal yourself.
Relationship Expert | Published Author, PeopleLooker
Ask yourself what your intentions are
In relationships that show signs of codependency, people will often lose their way in decision-making within the relationship. Ask yourself whether your intentions are more for your benefit or your partner’s.
You can become more prone to neglecting yourself and building an accidental resentment towards your partner when you always put your partner’s needs and wants ahead of your own.
You can act from a place of empowerment when you understand the intention behind your behaviors rather than reacting to perceived feelings.
Get in the habit of spending time alone
A pattern of codependency develops when you use other people to cope with your own discomfort and emotions. Everyone needs time and space to identify emotions, but time alone is also necessary to develop trust that you can take care of yourself.
Trust is built over time, and your relationship with yourself is no different. Take some time to get to know yourself on your own.
Develop a sense of self-awareness
Identifying your own feelings is the first step toward fixing a codependent relationship and attending to your own needs.
Overidentifying with your partner’s feelings is a common dynamic within codependency, while at the same time under-identifying with your own feelings.
In other words, if you continuously pay more attention to your partner’s feelings, you are more likely to act in a manner that is more supportive and attentive to them.
Related: How to Get to Know Yourself Better
Ensure there is space for confrontation
There will always be differences of opinion between two people in a relationship.
It is possible to become overly agreeable to your partner’s thoughts to avoid an uncomfortable disagreement within the patterns of codependency.
Get some help
Codependency often looks like an overreliance on others, but assertive requests for help are rare. You must first practice asking for help to break the passive communication pattern that fuels codependency.
It is essential to start small, perhaps asking a loved one to pass you a tissue so that you develop the habit of openly asking for support.
Licensed Therapist | Relationship Coach
They must understand it first
Codependency or just unregulated? When it comes to addressing codependency, for me, the explanation and understanding of what it is, help my clients the most.
My favorite definition of codependency is “the inability to tolerate the discomfort of others.” This essentially means there’s a reliance we place on our partners, friends, or family members to regulate our emotions (by them always being in a good mood, essentially).
This forces us to look inwards at why we feel so uncomfortable sitting with the feelings of those closest to us when they’re upset, in discomfort, angry, or whatever other unpleasant feelings they may be experiencing.
More often than not, this is why we jump to fix or find a solution rather than just listen. It’s our own inability to sit with and let the other person experience something without trying to do anything about it. We depend on them when we should be showing up for ourselves!
Relationship Expert, Texas Divorce Laws
Consider your goals and intentions
In codependency patterns, we frequently find ourselves unable to decide in the relationship.
Consider whether your goals align with your own or your partner’s goals. We harbor anger toward our relationship when we consistently prioritize our partner’s wants and needs over our own.
Knowing the motivation behind our actions allows us to respond with empowerment rather than in response to our partner’s ostensible feelings.
Stop thinking negatively
When you start thinking negatively, stop yourself. Catch yourself if you begin to believe that you deserve to be treated poorly and force yourself to think differently.
Positivity and greater goals are key.
Learn to recognize your own emotions
Overidentifying with our partner’s sentiments while under-identifying with our own feelings is one of the most prevalent dynamics in codependency.
Feelings offer a wealth of knowledge and direction. Therefore, regardless of our emotions, we are likely to respond in a manner that is more attentive to our partners if we consistently pay more attention to their emotions.
Don’t personalize situations
In an intimate relationship, it takes a lot of effort for a codependent individual not to take things personally. The first step is to accept others as they are without attempting to modify or improve them.
It is acceptable to take a break from your partner. Having friends outside of your relationship is healthy. Going out with friends helps us reconnect with our core selves and reminds us of our true selves.
Take some time off and start spending time alone to connect with your inner self.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to fix a codependent relationship, or should I just end it?
That depends on the severity and willingness of both partners to change. Although it’s difficult and lengthy to overcome codependency, it’s possible, with effort and commitment, to create a healthier and happier relationship.
However, if one or both partners are unwilling or unable to address their codependent patterns, or if the relationship is harmful or abusive, it may be necessary for your own well-being to end it.
Ultimately, the decision to repair or end a codependent relationship should be based on your own values, needs, and goals, and it may be beneficial to ask a trusted friend, family member, or professional for advice.
Can a codependent relationship be healthy?
A codependent relationship isn’t inherently healthy, as it can lead to emotional, physical, or psychological harm to one or both partners.
However, it’s possible to transform a codependent relationship into a healthier one by addressing underlying issues and patterns and creating clear, respectful, and empathetic communication and boundaries.
A healthy relationship is one in which both partners feel respected, heard, supported, and valued and in which they can grow and thrive as individuals and as a couple.
Can a person resolve a codependent relationship on their own?
While it’s possible for one person to take steps to repair a codependent relationship, it’s unlikely to be fully resolved without the cooperation of the other partner.
In a codependent relationship, both partners contribute to the dynamic, and both must work to identify and change their patterns to achieve lasting change.
However, one person can begin by focusing on their own healing and development, setting healthy boundaries, and communicating their needs and expectations clearly and respectfully. This can bring about change in the relationship and encourage the other partner to do the same.
What if my partner doesn’t want to change our codependent relationship?
It can be challenging when one partner is unwilling to change a codependent dynamic. In this case, it’s important to focus on your own growth and well-being and set boundaries that protect you from harm or enabling.
Consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help you deal with the situation and find ways to improve your emotional health and coping skills. If the relationship is unhealthy or abusive, you should consider ending it for your safety and well-being.
Can codependency develop in any type of relationship?
Yes, codependency can develop in any type of relationship, whether it’s between partners, family members, or friends.
How long does it take to repair a codependent relationship?
There is no set amount of time to repair a codependent relationship, as it depends on the people involved and the severity of the codependency. However, positive changes can be achieved over time with commitment and effort.
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