Are You Unknowingly In a Codependent Relationship?
At first glance, the signs of a codependent relationship may seem obvious. You rely on each other for everything. You sacrifice your needs to satisfy your partner. You avoid conflict to maintain peace.
But true codependency isn't just a checklist of obvious emotions. At times, these patterns can be insidious, and it's not always easy to detect. In many cases, couples think they are functioning appropriately, only to realize the extent of their toxic dynamic later.
When it comes to codependent relationships, it's crucial to understand the more subtle warning signs. These signs can creep up on you, and recognizing them can allow you to take the appropriate steps towards change and healing.
You Always Want Your Partner's Approval
Before buying a shirt, you snap a picture asking what they think about it. When grocery shopping, you Facetime them a few times to make sure you're getting the right apples and cereal. Any decision requires rigorous analysis- you want to ensure they approve of your choices.
There's nothing wrong with collaborating with your partner. It's normal to come together to make executive choices. Likewise, compromise is an essential ingredient when it comes to forming healthy relationships.
With that in mind, a lack of decisiveness could indicate a deeper problem. It's important to feel like you can trust yourself when making choices. If you don't feel capable of doing that- and your partner enables the dependency- you may be in a toxic dynamic.
You're Worried This Is the Best You Can Get
Maybe you've thought about leaving the relationship at some point. Perhaps a part of you recognizes you're unhappy or uneasy.
But you quickly squash those thoughts because the fear of being alone trumps the fear of an unhealthy dynamic. Low self-esteem can cultivate codependent relationships.
If you believe that "this is the best you can get," you may convince yourself you need to stick it out In some cases, your partner may also try to convince you that nobody else can take care of you like they can. Unfortunately, this is a common emotional abuse tactic designed to manipulate you into staying in the relationship.
You Always Want To Rescue Someone Else
You can see the good in them that nobody else can see! You understand their trauma or addiction or mental illness, and you know that they are an amazing person despite their struggles.
It's possible (and healthy) to love someone unconditionally. But the constant need to rescue comes with a steep cost. This cycle often enables toxic behavior and dissuades the person from changing on their own. After all, if they know someone will always take care of them- regardless of their choices- they may be more likely to take advantage of your generosity.
You Are Fiercely Independent
If you do everything alone, you might scoff at the idea of codependency. After all, aren't you the opposite? You don't need anyone's approval or validation!
As it turns out, extreme independence can be a reaction to toxic relationships. Instead of relying on your partner for support, you turn away and withdraw. Rather than coming to the relationship for grounding, you assume you're on your own. Your partner may feel conflicted and assume they did something wrong.
Over time, this chronic pattern leads to unsatisfying, distant relationships. People often feel like you're disconnected, and you tend to feel detached from intimacy. This can lead to problems with trust and safety.
You Insist You're Low-Maintenance
Do you tell everyone that you just go with the flow? Do you believe that you don't really have much of an opinion on things?
It's possible to be flexible and open-minded, particularly when it comes to change. But low-maintenance may just be a denial tactic you use to rationalize your codependent traits. In some ways, low-maintenance can just be a disguise for low self-esteem and people-pleasing tendencies.
Think about it. We all have needs and preferences. We all have expectations for our relationships. But if you consistently tell yourself you just go with the flow, you seemingly allow people to lead your way.
In healthy relationships, both partners express their needs mutually. Even if you can't agree, there is a movement towards compromise or negotiation. You both learn how to value and respect each other for your differences.
What Should You Do if You're in a Codependent Relationship?
If you have identified that you're in a codependent relationship, you may feel angry, confused, or even sad. You might wonder if something is wrong with you or your partner.
Nothing is inherently wrong! Relationships can be complicated, but they can also improve and heal. Practicing setting healthy boundaries and utilizing healthy communication is the first step towards change.
At The Resurface Group, we support individuals and loved ones learn how to take care of themselves. We are here for you. Contact us today to learn more.