Let’s discuss co-dependency in relationships. You may be in one and not even realise how it’s impacting you.
To understand what co-dependency is, we need to see how it differs from dependence, which is a natural part of any relationship.
When you are in a dependent relationship you realise the following:
- Both parties prioritise the relationship
- Rely on each other for love and support
- Find ways to make the relationship beneficial to both
- Also have friends, activities and interests outside of the relationship.
Whereas in a codependent relationship, one of the partners gets satisfaction from making the other cater to their every need. Unless the other person makes extreme sacrifices, he/she feels unwanted; that is, their desires are far more important than the other’s. There is no social life or interest outside of the relationship, making the person lose their identity to some extent.
One would believe that the more demanding party would be happier, but the precise reason it is called codependency is because the one making the sacrifices also feels it is justified (or gives them a false sense of happiness) in order to keep the relationship going.
The reason why this happens is because one person’s self worth depends on being needed and the other one from not wanting anything in return. If one has had a parent who is needy and makes you feel guilty for wanting anything, you may grow up to be an adult who believes in an only giving relationship.
This kind of relationship leads to a lot of anxiety due to the desires of both partners. One is always worried if the other cares enough, while the other is always thinking that they have not done enough.
Even if others (friends, family…) suggest that the relationship is codependent they find it difficult to break themselves away from the relationship as they feel conflicted and guilty at the thought of separation.
Breaking up is not always the best solution, but in order to have a healthy relationship, certain steps need to be taken:
Spend more time with family and relatives and broaden you circle of friends.
Ask yourself if you helping each other or simply fostering negativity.
Set boundaries in your relationship
Setting boundaries is a subject by itself and will be discussed in my next blog
For now it is important to recognise whether you are in a codependent relationship and if you are, then you need to start by trying to spend more time with people other than your partner.
Sujatha Kumar (Clinical Psychologist, Mind Your Fitness!)