Codependent relationships are some of most destructive you can be in — because you don't always know how to tell if you're in a codependent relationship in order to change it. It can happen slowly and, the truth is, you often miss the signs because people don't have a great understanding of what codependency actually is.
"Codependency has become a buzzword, and people sometimes misunderstand what it means to be codependent. It is important to remember that in a healthy relationship, it is absolutely OK to depend on your partner," Holly Daniels, PhD, LMFT, clinical systems director at Sober College, tells Bustle. "Humans are biologically wired to be in relationships, and relationships work best when two people are able to trust one another, lean on one another, and comfort one another. In a healthy relationship, there is a balance between each partner’s ability to be independent and their ability to enjoy mutual support with the other partner. In some relationships, however, one or both partners value the relationship much more than they value their own health and well-being. This is called codependence."
But it's not just about spending too much time together — although that can be part of it. It's a more deep-rooted issue that comes down to your own insecurities and the type of attachments that develop in your relationship. And Daniels says you may be able to tell if you're prone to codependence by taking a look back at your childhood.
"Codependence isn’t something you just fall into — it is a dynamic that stems from insecure attachment — a pattern of relating that is formed early in our lives," Daniels says. "The number one way to know if you are likely to engage in a codependent relationship is to look back at your childhood and see if you had healthy or secure attachments with your parental units. If your parents were able to model for you a healthy balance of being able to rely both on other people and on yourself, you probably won’t fall into codependent patterns. But, if you didn’t have the healthiest of relationships with your parents, you might be prone to codependence."
But being in a codependent relationship doesn't necessarily mean you're insecure or submissive. "You might be the codependent person in the relationship, or you may be in a relationship with a codependent person," Daniels says. You may be in a relationship where your partner is dependent on you.
If you want to figure out whether or not your relationship is codependent, you need to ask yourself the tough questions. Daniels suggests that you ask yourself the following: