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How To Identify Co-Dependency In Your Relationship 

How To Identify Co-Dependency In Your Relationship

Navigating a relationship can be tricky. Balancing the needs of both yourself and your partner can often be difficult, but very rewarding when done right. But, when the balance between partners shifts and is not even, that could be a sign of co-dependency in relationships.

What Is Co-Dependency?

Co-dependency is a relationship in which each person is excessively reliant on the other.  The American Psychological Association has defined codependency as a “dysfunctional relationship pattern” in which the individuals involved are reliant on each other: 

  • Emotionally
  • Mentally 
  • Physically
  • Spiritually 

Co-dependency is not only something that can happen with romantic partners but can also occur with family members or friends. It is a set of behavior patterns that can occur in any relationship.

What Are The Main Causes of Co-Dependency?

A co-dependent relationship may have many causes. Poor self-concept, negative self-image, and poor boundaries are some of the most common. Some research suggests that there are biological, psychological, and social factors that may contribute to co-dependency.

Biological Causes

A biological cause of co-dependency may be the brain’s inability to inhibit, or stop, empathic responses. This could cause an overabundance of empathy which could make it easier to become involved in an attached relationship.

Genetics may also play a role in developing co-dependency. Having a parent with a dependent personality disorder or other anxiety disorder can contribute to being involved in a co-dependent relationship as you may become more prone to codependent tendencies.

Psychological Causes

The psychological causes of co-dependency may be due to negative life experiences growing up, including trauma or neglect in childhood. These experiences can contribute to the development of a dependent personality type.

Social/Cultural Factors

Some social or cultural norms may contribute to the development of being in an interconnected relationship. In particular, social norms of gender roles and subservience may be involved in the cause of co-dependency. Yet, it is important to note that politeness and passivity are not, alone, symptoms of co-dependency.

The Different Ways That Co-Dependency Can Manifest in Romantic Relationships

Finding yourself in a co-dependent relationship often means that there is an imbalance of power between partners. It usually involves one person giving more of their focus, time, and energy into the relationship than the other person.

Being in a mutually dependent romantic relationship can be difficult to spot, especially when you are on the inside of the relationship. The way co-dependency can manifest is when you, or your partner, start to rely on the other person for approval and happiness.

Being co-dependent in a romantic relationship can also manifest in:

  • Taking too much responsibility for your partner.
  • Finding yourself gravitating towards people and relationships who need you.
  • Very little compromise and never getting your way.
  • Finding yourself doing things for your partner that they should be doing for themselves.
  • Finding it difficult to identify your own emotions.
  • Feeling the need to check with your partner before doing anything

Signs You Are In A Co-Dependent Relationship

How to tell if you’re in a co-dependent relationship can be difficult because we often don’t notice signs when we’re right in the midst of them. Also, we may not quite understand what being in a dysfunctional relationship looks like. Some signs of co-dependency may include:

  • You want to fix the other person’s problems and you’re concerned with what they are thinking, feeling, and doing.
  • The relationship is one-sided. It seems that one person is the responsible, hard-working one, while the other is irresponsible and does not take responsibility for their actions.
  • You are afraid of doing or saying anything that may upset the other person.
  • You take care of everyone and everything but feel resentful about it.
  • Despite the other person hurting you, you continue to stay with that person.
  • You spend more time taking care of others at the expense of your self-care.
  • Feel resentful, frustrated, or taken advantage of.
  • You feel uncomfortable being without your partner.
  • You may be afraid of rejection or criticism.

Though there is no official checklist or test to determine whether you’re in a co-dependent relationship, these signs can give you an idea of what an interconnected relationship looks like. So you might be wondering if things can change. The answer is yes, not all hope is lost.

Can Co-Dependent Relationships Be Fixed?

Fixing a co-dependent relationship usually starts with the realization that you are in one in the first place. From there, one of the most important things you can do to change this relationship pattern is to build up your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Breaking a pattern of co-dependency can be hard, but it is worth it to have a meaningful, balanced relationship. Learning how to focus on yourself, set boundaries, communicate, and set up self-care routines are all important ways to fix those interconnected relationships.

Now, not all attached relationships can or will be worth the effort to be fixed. Part of learning more about yourself and building up your self-identity means exploring what relationships are, or are not, worth your time.

To fix a co-dependent relationship, both partners must agree. You can work on yourself all you want, but if the other person is not willing to join you in that work, the relationship has little chance of becoming meaningful. So some tips for working through co-dependency are:

  • Talk to a trusted individual
  • Seek out individual or couples counseling
  • Learn to take care of yourself and do activities you enjoy
  • Identify your patterns of behavior in relationships
  • Build confidence and self-esteem
  • Set boundaries

All these tips can help you build a stronger relationship or have the strength to move away from a dysfunctional one.

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