When we start a new relationship, we find ourselves thinking about the other person all the time. We almost feel like we are addicted to them – we want to do everything we can to make them happy, spend our free time together, and give up doing things we want to do things the other person wants to.
But, you start to notice…you’re the only one who seems to be putting forth this amount of effort. And when they don’t respond the way you hope they do, you feel rejected and unworthy of love.
You’re in a co-dependent relationship, and even though it can be painful and you’re miserable, it’s even harder to break free.
A co-dependent relationship can almost feel like a love addiction. You find your mood – and more importantly, your happiness – is dictated by your partner’s response. You seek their approval, their attention, and try to make sure you go out of your way to fulfill their every need.
It may not be you who is the clingy one. He may be clingy and emotionally manipulative. Love is not conditional, it is something that should be given free of strings or burdens. When it’s not and used to manipulate the other person’s actions, it’s a sign that that the relationship is not healthy.
Oftentimes, we hear the term co-dependent when one may be an alcoholic or have another addiction and the other person is in the role of care-giver. While this is common, it is not always the case.
Signs of a co-dependent relationship
Your happiness in your own life is solely based on the other person
Put the other person’s needs above your own at all costs
You’ve lost your own identity
You’ve changed your behavior to meet the other person’s needs/expectations
You are always in a caregiver role and enjoy feeling needed
These are just a few of the signs. Typically, if someone is in a codependent relationship, they know it; part of being co-dependent is they will not acknowledge it and try to move beyond the dysfunction.
It is possible to have a healthy relationship. Counseling is a great place to start, and works well for couples or the individual who wants to come alone to break free of this cycle.
You can learn better self-care methods so you can put your needs first. Once you start taking better care of yourself, you will see your self-esteem increase as well.
We also can work on how to set boundaries – an important life skill that can help in other areas as well. Boundaries are important and you will be surprised to find that setting clear parameters can be quite freeing!
I will also give you some tools to help you know how to help versus enable, how to support instead of fix, and how to love without strings. You shouldn’t have to do anything to be loved. When you remove the need for your worth to be determined by what you do for others, you will be able to truly love freely and to be able to find the love you need and want as well.
Co-dependent relationships aren’t just born over night; they are usually a pattern that begins at an early age. We will work on breaking free from those patterns and creating new, healthier ones so you can find the happiness you deserve.
The first step is the hardest – it’s making that call or sending that email to get started. But it is worth it.