A healthy relationship is not all about giving or just taking. There needs to be a balance so that the relationship stays a healthy one. But there are times when one person makes a lot of sacrifices just to make their partner happy. That’s a codependency relationship, which you should not be in for the sake of your mental health. You might see compromising as your way of showing love. So, if you are wondering if you are in a codependency relationship, check out the signs.
What is a codependent relationship?
A codependent relationship is basically a dysfunctional relationship where there is an obvious power imbalance between two partners. Ritika Aggarwal, Consultant Psychologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai says typically, there are two roles in this type of a relationship. One is the caretaker (also known as the giver or enabler) and the other one is the taker. The caretaker prioritises the thoughts, feelings and needs of the other person over their own and spends a significant amount of time making sure that the other person is taken care of. The taker, on the other hand, intentionally or unintentionally takes advantage of this caretaking.
Signs of codependent relationship
There are some warning signs that can help to identify that you’re in a codependent relationship. Here are some:
1. People pleasing
While wanting to please others is normal, it becomes a problem if your entire focus is on pleasing the other over your own needs all the time, says the expert. Being a people pleaser may make it difficult for you to say no even if it interferes with something you need. So, you may end up finding it difficult to take care of your own needs and wants or feel like you have no time for yourself.
2. Outside relationships are affected
You find it difficult to spend time with family and friends outside of this relationship. And even when you do spend time with them or on yourself (including your hobbies), you tend to feel guilty or anxious for the same.
3. Poor self-esteem and self-image
Both you and your partner may have low self-esteem as one of you derives their self-worth from their ability to please the other while the other derives it from the validation of the first person. One of you may also try controlling the other due to a fear of the other leaving them. This can affect their self-image as well as they may lose touch with themselves outside of that specified relationship.
4. Lack of boundaries
Both people in the relationship tend to have difficulties in recognising, respecting and reinforcing their boundaries. In codependent relationships, one person may find it difficult to recognise and respect boundaries, while the other may not feel the need to reinforce boundaries, notes Aggarwal.
One may feel an immense need to look after the other person in the relationship all the time. That’s not so much out of affection but rather out of a fear that something bad will happen if you do. You may also feel hurt when your caretaking goes unnoticed or unappreciated, the expert tells Health Shots.
6. Emotional effect
When one feels responsible for the other all the time, they are more likely to react with either defensiveness or internalise their own feelings when faced with criticism. This can result in you forgetting your own needs and wants. One may also blame the caretaker for any problems that do arise.
7. Poor communication
One may fail to recognise one’s own needs and wants which in turn makes it difficult to communicate what you need to the other person in the relationship.
Each person needs the other to fulfil a certain need but it also limits both of them from growing in their own right. One may need help while the other may need validation.
Ways to stop being codependent
Don’t lose hope, as there are ways to bring the relationship back into a balance. But it’s important that both partners work on it together. Some ways to deal with a codependent relationship are:
• Identify and be aware that you are in a codependent relationship and need to work on this.
• Get an opinion from someone you trust if you’re confused or unsure about whether you are in a codependent relationship.
• Rediscover yourself.
• Remind yourself you are not responsible for the other’s actions, behaviours or feelings.
• Enhance communication skills and discuss your concerns with each other.
• Set boundaries.
• Broaden your circle of support.
– Pursue your hobbies.
If you are finding it difficult to recognise your own needs or asking for support from others, reach out to a mental health expert who can help you or you and your partner to work through it.