There’s something comforting and lovely about being part of a team. It becomes natural to make everyday decisions based on the ˜we’ factor, and not so much the ˜me’ factor. But when the ˜we’ overtakes your complete sense of identity, it can put both yourself and your relationship in danger.
Co-dependency is a tendency to behave in ways that have a negative impact on your quality of life, relationships and definition of self-worth. Its behavior is often characterized by patterns of control, denial, low/no self-esteem and compliance issues that wreak havoc on a person’s well-being in a relationship.
Here are some signs you may be caught in an unhealthy pattern:
You’re a pleaser. You might generally be a generous person in everyday life, but this holds especially true in your relationship. You constantly worry so much that you aren’t doing enough and giving enough that it consumes you. You seek to please him in order to gain praise, acceptance and fulfillment.
You feel you can’t make decisions independently. You’re so reliant on your partner’s approval, that you can’t decide anything for yourself for fear of disappointing or angering him. It could be as simple as buying groceries, choosing a carpet-cleaning service or even where and what time to make a dinner reservation “ you feel compelled to consult with him first.
You’ve isolated yourself from friends and family. Your focus is singularly on your relationship, to the point that you’ve cut out all interaction with friends and family. You’ve either simply lost the desire, or feel you aren’t able to engage with others while in your relationship, so you avoid get-togethers and phone calls altogether. Your world becomes drastically shrunken and carefully defined and controlled.
You’ve lost interest. You once had many passions, but since becoming involved in your relationship, you’ve completely lost the desire, energy and time to pursue anything. It could also be that your partner simply doesn’t support your interests or encourage you, and you find yourself only doing the sort of activities he wishes to do.
You’re needy for the sake of being needed. An overwhelming desire to be needed encapsulates your sense of worth and value. You’ve lost sight of your own needs and values “ you seek instead to fulfill those of your partner. This need to be needed takes on many forms (both mental and physical) and you might even have sex as a means of meeting the needs of your partner without attending to your own.
Though part of falling and being in love involves abandoning yourself to that giddy sense of lost control and a desire to share completely with your partner, allowing yourself to be defined by your relationship is not. It’s healthy to maintain personal time, space and boundaries: embracing your own needs and desires in life is vital.
Though not all of the signs above can serve to diagnose a co-dependent relationship, if you sense that your relationship is chronically imbalanced, it may be time to seek help.
Are you or have you ever been caught up in a co-dependent relationship? Tell us your story.