Whenever you think of being in a relationship with someone, you may automatically think about the love you have for the other person and how much you depend on them being in your life. But with this dependence can come signs of controlling behavior that you should always keep a lookout for as well.
While they might sound like two different things, being completely dependent on your partner and being controlled by your partner can often go hand-in-hand. A controlling partner will often make you dependent to suit their needs: They'll get mad if you hang out with friends, they don't do things you want to do, or they may even force you to cut ties with friends they don't like.
It's important to remember that needing a person too much generally comes from fear, not love. When a partner makes their SO responsible for their own happiness, the need of having that validation almost becomes like an addiction. They control their SO and it starts to become an emotional dependency because they are afraid of losing their partner. While you're bound to change throughout the course of a relationship, being unhealthily codependent can cause you to completely sacrifice your own identity for the sake of your partner. Your self-worth might even be dependent on the relationship without you even realizing it. Ideal relationships are a good balance of taking care of the individual as well as creating a relationship that is mutually satisfying. If you're unsure if your relationship is headed in a healthy direction or not, here are some signs to watch to see if you're in an emotionally dependent relationship.
1. You Don't Hang With Your Friends Or Family
Just because you're in a romantic relationship with someone doesn't mean you have to completely forget about your friends. Codependence occurs when your happiness solely comes from the individual you're in a relationship with — and that's not healthy. According to WebMD, Scott Wetzler PhD, psychology division chief at Albert Einstein College of Medicine said, "Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesn't have self-sufficiency or autonomy," Wetzler continued, "One or both parties depend on their loved ones for fulfillment." To have a stable and healthy relationship with your partner, you both need to hang out with friends and family and not just with each other. By doing this, not only are you nurturing yourself, you're nurturing your relationship, too.
2. You Don't Do Anything Alone Anymore
If the thought of doing something alone is giving you anxiety and stress, then you just might be codependent. While it's natural to want to spend a lot of time with your partner, feeling stressed out because they aren't around isn't good. Try to acknowledge that you don't need your partner everywhere you go to be happy. According to The Huffington Post, Jennifer Twardowski, a relationship coach, explained that for you to stop being codependent you have to start doing things for yourself. If you and your partner share friends, try signing up for a new class or activity that becomes your own thing.
3. Your Relationship Is Your Only Source Of Happiness
While the person you're dating should obviously make you happy, they shouldn't be the only source of joy in your life. People who are in codependent relationships have moods that usually mirror their partner's. According to Your Tango, Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More explained, "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." The last thing you want to do is control your partner just so they can do things that make you happy. You want to be with someone who makes you happy for who they are, not what you wish they could be.
4. You Feel Anxiety All The Time While In The Relationship
A lot of codependent partners feel anxiety when they can't control or are not around their significant other. Even though not all relationships are perfect, you should never feel completely stressed all the time because of your partner. According to WebMD, Psychologist Seth Meyers said, "They'll feel anxiety more consistently than any other emotion in the relationship." Meyers continued, "And they'll spend a great deal of time and energy either trying to change their partner or… trying to conform to their partner's wishes." Sometimes, the best way to get rid of anxiety is to just let go of things you can't control — even if that means breaking up with your partner. You want your relationship to bring you positive emotions, not stressed-induced ones. Take a moment to step back and try to view your relationship from an outsider's point of view. This will help you examine where the stress is coming from, so you can be able to work on it with your partner.
5. You Play The Role Of The Caregiver
Sometimes in a codependent relationship, one partner might find themselves being a parent to the other. A romantic relationship should never feel like a parent/child relationship. Enabling a person means you are easing the tension of negative habits and that's not healthy. According to Everyday Health, Mary Catherine Segota, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist at Executive Health in Orlando, Fla. said, “Individuals who are codependent tend to get involved in relationships with individuals who are unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy.” Segota continued, “The codependent individual tries to provide and control everything in the relationship without addressing their own needs or desires, which perpetuates the lack of fulfillment in the relationship.”
6. You Don't Feel Good About Yourself
When one is in a codependent relationship, and relying heavily on the partner to fulfill their own happiness, they usually don't feel good about themselves. People in healthy relationships find other outlets to make them happy, whether it's their hobbies, their family, their job, etc. But when your relationship doesn't involve self-respect, it enables bad behavior from your partner, and this could influence you to not feel good about yourself. According to PsychCentral, Chris Kingman, LCSW, a psychotherapist said, "Because people who struggle with codependency also don’t have high standards for how others treat them, they often pick partners who don’t treat them very well." The relationship can become a vicious cycle. If one doesn't have self-respect, then that person can possibly choose a partner who is not emotionally reliable. And this may allow that person to mistrust their partner, emotionally.
There are multiple ways to heal from a codependent relationship. Once you realize that you're in one, you can easily take the steps to overcome it. It will take time and maybe even therapy, but the first step is to acknowledge that you are indeed codependent, and from there you can try to better yourself and your relationship.
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