When we talk about codependent relationships, we often talk about them in terms of romantic partners. However, there are definitely signs you have a codependent friendship, as well. Codependence is a term we throw around a lot, but it actually isn't a specific disorder, in terms of what's defined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostics manual; in fact, that's probably why a lot of people talk about codependence in a joking way, like, "Oh, you're so clingy," or "You're so desperate." But codependence is actually pretty serious, and the unhealthy behaviors that indicate codependence can pop up in all kinds of relationships — from partners to families to friends.
For people who are codependent in relationships, it often stems from learned behaviors in childhood, where people's safety and happiness hinged on the behavior and reactions of others (parents, siblings, teachers, etc.). Codependence may stem from a fearthat you aren't "good" or "worthwhile" enough for those around you, so you need to earn their attention and love through doing things for them, agreeing with them, always working around their schedule, and otherwise bending over backwards and rarely taking your own wants, needs, and desires into account.
A lot of the time when we talk about codependence, we refer to people as "people pleasers" or "clingers," which can be a little dismissive of how serious being in a codependent situation can be. When people are chronic people pleasers, it can stem from their desire to fix or solve an issue or obstacle that's affecting someone they care about, often hinging on the belief that they can then achieve happiness upon that one thing being fixed — essentially, you're putting someone else's issues on your own shoulders.
Now that we've covered the basics of what codependence is and where it often stems from, let's look at some specific signs you may be codependent in your friendships:
1. You Rely On One Friend For All Of Your Needs
It's normal to get emotional support from your friends. It's normal to make plans with your friends. It's normal to prioritize spending time with your friends and enriching your relationships with them. However, if you find yourself relying too heavily on one friend to meet all of your needs, that may be a sign you've become codependent
. Even if you're super close, it's important to have balance in your friendships; if you find yourself replacing other people in your life with just this one person, even if the relationship isn't romantic, it can still be codependent
. Did you use to call your mom for advice? Your roommate? Your best friend from middle school? If you realize you've slowly cut these people out and filled in your friend for all of these roles, it may be time to take a step back and work on those other relationships, too.
2. You Can't Handle When Your Friend Is In A Relationship
OK, so pretty much no one likes it when their previously steadfast pal get into honeymoon phase
of a new relationship where they only prioritize their partner and kind of forget about everyone else. However, if you find yourself getting annoyed no matter who
your friend dates, or how long they've been together, that might be a sign you see their partner as a threat to the time you get to spend with your friend, or even a threat to your closeness
. It's important to remember that your friend is awesome and wonderful, so yes, other people are going to want to spend time with them, too. That isn't a judgment against you, or a sign that they prefer someone else over you; it's just part of what makes us all human. Remember, balance is key.
3. You Use Them As Your Emotional Soundboard For Everything
Yeah, it's totally normal to rely on your friends for emotional support. Seriously: Sometimes nothing feels better than crying your eyes out on your best friend's shoulders and knowing they accept you and understand you no matter what. That said, it's important to have a variety of support systems and not rely entirely on one person for all your emotional needs. No matter how much someone cares about you, they simply can't be available all of the time, and they can't meet your every single need. Developing support systems with multiple people, however, will give you balance; it will prevent you from putting all of your eggs in one proverbial basket. It's also important to remember that as a friend, it's your job to offer support and care to your friends in return, too.
4. You Freak Out If They Try To Expand The Friend Group
Often when people are codependent
, it's not that they don't want to make new friends or meet new people, but rather that they have low self-esteem
and worry that if their friends meet others, they'll be left behind. Often, this comes down to issues of self-worth
and how we value ourselves; if you feel like you don't "deserve" your friends, it's easy to feel like you'll be replace in an instant, especially if your friend begins developing a close bond with a new person, or gets into a romantic relationship. Just remember: It's normal and healthy to have different friends and even different friend groups. It's not a slight or a commentary on how much you value the others in your life. When someone you're close with develops a new friendship, see it as an opportunity for you to also make a new friend, and don't sweat it.
5. You Let Them Make Major Decisions For You
OK, be honest with yourself: When your buddy asked you to move into an apartment together and it was way out of your budget, why did you agree? Or take this scenario: Your friends all want to go on an expensive cruise and it's over your mom's birthday; why didn't you mention it to them and ask to reschedule? The list could go on, but what I'm getting at is: If these moments feel too familiar, you may be codependent on your friend or friend group. If you find yourself making decisions based on pleasing others and putting yourself second, it's a major sign that you may be codependent
. This not only isn't fair to you, but it's also a breeding ground for feeling bitter later on. Remember, your friends are your friends because they care about you and value you. If you're honest with them about your needs and limits, they'll understand.
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