Codependency in a relationship is never a good thing.
When you’re codependent, you start being entirely defined by your partner and the ways in which you’re useful to them.
If you lean on your partner for everything and find that it has become a struggle to separate your individual identity from your identity as a couple, then you may well have a problem.
If you would find it extremely tough to operate without them as your crutch, this article is for you.
Whilst relationships thrive when there is a strong, healthy bond, mutual respect, and a natural interdependence on one another, when two people find that they can’t function without the other person around, it spells trouble.
It can do damage to the other important relationships in your life, with your best friends or family feeling slighted or sidelined by your inability to do anything without your partner in tow.
It can also be a ticking time bomb…
Sooner rather than later, something is bound to happen in a codependent relationship that will light the fuse and bring the whole thing crashing down around your ears.
After all, your happiness should never be entirely dependent on just one other person.
And you should never be entirely responsible for making someone else happy.
That’s far too much pressure for anyone to handle and isn’t sustainable in the long term.
Much as it might seem like your partner is the center of your world and your happiness relies entirely on them, your happiness is your responsibility, and nobody else’s!
In the same way, it isn’t your job to prop up your partner. You should be there to support and care for them, but the burden of their happiness shouldn’t be resting on your shoulders.
If you’ve established that there’s a problem between you, then you’re probably looking for a solution.
After all, if you want your relationship to thrive long in the long term, codependency is your enemy.
It won’t be easy to change the habits you’ve developed, but if you’re determined to save your relationship and are willing to put in the hard work, you might be able to establish a healthy, caring balance.
So, without further ado, here are 10 things you can try to help break free of that mindset and overcome codependency.
1. Work on your relationships with your family and friends.
If you and your partner have a codependent vibe going on, chances are that you’ve distanced yourself from some of the other people in your life.
You probably don’t spend as much quality time with your friends or your family as you did before the relationship began.
So, as part of your effort to stop being codependent, it’s important to start prioritizing the other relationships in your life more than you currently do.
By nurturing your bonds with the other people in your lives, you develop a stronger support network and you aren’t the sole focus of each other’s lives.
This helps to take the pressure off.
2. Make your own decisions.
When you’re in a committed relationship, certain big decisions that affect you both should always be taken together.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely disregard your own wants and needs in favor of your partner’s.
It’s important for you to maintain some agency and control over the way your own life unfolds.
If you’re used to deferring all your decisions to your partner, then start with small, insignificant things that you would usually ask your partner’s opinion on.
This can be as simple as what to wear or what to have for dinner. Then gradually work up to more substantial decisions.
You can break codependency one decision at a time, weakening its grip as you go.
Going hand in hand with making your own decisions is assertiveness.
If you’ve made a decision that might go against what your partner would want, then you need to be able to say that to them firmly.
Be honest. If you don’t actually want to go out when they’ve suggested it, tell them.
That way you won’t resent being cajoled into things and you’ll both have a better idea of what the other person wants.
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4. Learn to self soothe.
When you’re in the clutches of a codependent relationship it might seem like your partner is the only one who can help you when you’re in a tough spot emotionally.
But you need to recognize that it’s not their job to prop you up.
Whilst it’s lovely to know you have someone there for you when you need them, you do also need to be able to put out your own fires and get your own ducks back in a row.
A big step to overcoming codependency is to know how to deal with your own emotional storms, without it being anyone else’s job to calm you down.
Try out different things to find tools that work well for you, perhaps turning to exercise, meditation, or music.
Making this your default reaction can help to strengthen your awareness of who you are as a person and your ability to deal with things when the chips are down.
After all, much as it might seem like the two of you are forever, you never know what might happen.
It’s important to have the tools in place that mean you could deal with your feelings should you ever break up.
5. Don’t expect your partner to be everything to you.
We’re all different, and you and your partner aren’t always going to have exactly the same tastes or wants.
Rather than forcing your partner to do things with you that they don’t enjoy – or giving them up entirely – reach out to a friend who does enjoy them.
Whilst it’s wonderful for your partner to be your best friend in many ways, you shouldn’t expect them to entirely fill that best friend role. That’s what your friends are for!
The more you can create a life outside of the relationship, the more comfortable you’ll feel not being codependent.
6. Get some clarity on what you really want in life.
It’s a beautiful thing to build a life with a partner and strive for common goals, but you need to make sure that you don’t lose sight of your own dreams too.
If you do, it’s something you may well come to regret.
There’s always going to be a certain amount of compromise involved, but you should both be compromising equally.
7. Reflect on how you’ve changed since being in the relationship.
Are there certain things that you loved doing before you got into this relationship, that you find you aren’t doing any more and you miss?
If that morning gym session was important to you, maybe it’s time to go back to it.
If you were eating vegetarian, but being with your partner means you’ve gone back to meat and you’re not quite comfortable with it, then you should reflect on the reasons why.
It’s natural that we all grow and change, but think about the things that really made you you,and promise yourself that you’ll rediscover them.
8. Treat yourself with the love you expect from a partner.
You shouldn’t be relying on anyone else to show you the love you deserve.
Be kind to yourself and encourage yourself, silencing that niggling negative voice.
Treat yourself. Don’t wait for another person to do it for you, or you might be waiting for a long time.
Show yourself that, should things not pan out the way you’d envisaged in your relationship, you’ll be just fine.
This is a key part of the codependency recovery process.
9. Consider counselling.
Couple’s therapy isn’t the answer for everyone, but some people find the only way to make significant changes for the better in their relationship is to get the help of a professional.
It can help you to air grievances and get some clarity, and mean you both actually commit to changing your ways.
10. Take breaks.
People in codependent relationships often end up spending practically all their spare time together, especially if they live together.
Whether it’s a longer time apart or even just an evening out with friends, it’s important for you both to spend time doing things separately and preserving your individual identities.
Don’t be afraid of taking however long you need for yourself. If the relationship is right, they’ll be right there waiting for you when you get back.
Healing codependency isn’t a quick thing. While you should try to implement as many of these suggestions as you can, you will need to be patient to see results.
And it’s best if you work on these things together, as a couple, with plenty of communication around the issues you’re facing. One person alone cannot fix a codependent relationship.
One of both of you might show resistance to change at times. When this happens, just remind yourself of why you want to deal with this unhealthy aspect of your relationship.