Co-dependency is a term that is used quite commonly, but often misconstrued.
Back in the day it was believed that co-dependency was a good thing that meant that both parties brought something to the table, and depended on each other equally for their assets and qualities, while still respecting each other and keeping their independence. This is actually called interdependence and is the key to having a happy and healthy relationship.
Co-dependency on the other hand, is an unhealthy addiction or obsession, that results in one person relying on the other for their own happiness and self-worth, often in an abusive fashion or from the other side, putting everyone else’s needs and happiness above their own.
Co-dependency has become so prevalent that it cannot only be hard to recognize, it can also be difficult to end it in a healthy way.
Is Your Relationship Co-dependent?
To really determine if your relationship is co-dependent you need to do three things.
1. Define Co-dependency in your Own Words.
Co-dependency can be quite difficult to understand, and many people aren’t entirely sure of its definition. Putting it into your own words and truly identifying with what it means, is vital for the following 2 steps.
2. Be Honest with Yourself
It’s all well and good to understand what co-dependency means, but you also need to be able to identify it in your own life, and be honest about the fact that those behaviors are there. Once you have admitted that to yourself, then you can work on turning those negative behaviors into positive ones.
Even if co-dependency has resulted in you hiding your emotions, and convincing yourself that they don’t matter, you need to be willing to recognize those emotions. You can’t ignore them forever!
3. Be Aware of Labelling Yourself
Once you have labelled yourself as co-dependent it’s time to empower yourself, and reprogram your behaviors to allow you to move on. Giving yourself that label before you are ready to make a change is a sure fire way to convince yourself that being co-dependent is who you are, and that is just how it’s meant to be. That mindset just enables the cycle to continue and stops you from moving forward.
Not sure if Your Relationship is Co-dependent?
Co-dependent relationships are everywhere and soppy romance movies or Disney princess tales do a great job of portraying it as healthy. Let’s be honest, meeting someone and deciding that you must have them in your life to make it worth living isn’t healthy, and no handsome prince (or princess) is going to give you the infinite happiness you are looking for. You have to create it yourself.
Here are some telltale signs that you are living a life of co-dependence.
- You know you deserve better, but you love the other person so much that you put up with being mistreated.
- You convince yourself that if you wait long enough, or try hard enough, that the other person will change and love you the way you want them to. You reason that it’s worth all the pain now because things will be “great” when they finally do change.
- You feel like life isn’t worth living without the other person, and there would be no point going on without them. You truly believe that this person alone can make you happy in life.
- You feel like you can’t be yourself, or do things that will make you change or grow as a person without feeling guilty or feeling like you are deserting them.
- You feel like the other person has done so much for you and you fear that if you ever left them, that they would fall apart without you.
- You feel that the other person needs help in some way and you are the only one who can “fix” them, because you are the one that loves them and knows them the best. But they either don’t accept the help or don’t want to be fixed.
- You feel like you are trapped in the relationship, and even if you did leave the other person they would make you miserable until you took them back.
- You are confused about your feelings for the other person and often feel like you love them and hate them at the same time. Or you’re in denial of all the bad things and think the good things will outweigh them.
- You constantly escape in your own mind and imagine, or even dream, about a life without the other person.
- You start to develop habits, obsessions or addictions that were never an issue before (or maybe they were before), that only seem to be a problem when you’re with the other person.
Why Anger is the Key to Ending a Co-dependent Relationship
Co-dependency usually comes from setting weak personal boundaries and believing that if you do try to set firmer boundaries, then the relationship would be ruined.
Just knowing how your relationship has become co-dependent will never be enough motivation to end it. The motivation has to come from within, when you are at the point where you have just had enough, and you have that light bulb moment when you realize how toxic the relationship is.
It’s only then that you can really connect with your anger. It’s that anger that gives you the strength to reclaim your life and take back control.
We’ve always been taught that anger is a bad thing, but you really should listen to it. It’s our own way of knowing that our boundaries have been crossed, and it gives you the drive you need to set and maintain healthier boundaries, that are going to work for you.
How to End a Co-dependent Relationship. The Healthy Way.
So you’ve worked with your anger and recognized your boundaries. Now it’s important to end the co-dependence in a healthy way.
- Unless the situation is dangerous, don’t just run away or get someone else to end the relationship for you.
- Don’t put all the blame on the other person.
- Don’t cut ties with the other person without warning or without giving them a chance to work things out first. If it can’t be worked out, let the other person know why you feel they have done you wrong before you cut them from your life.
- Get straight to the point. Don’t tiptoe around the issue to try and protect the other person’s feelings. Be honest and direct about why things are ending.
- Don’t seek revenge. Hurting them isn’t going to make you feel better.
It’s Not Going to Be Easy
Ending a co-dependent relationship in a healthy way isn’t easy, but if you do it properly then you can be sure that you have done it for the right reasons, and not just out of fear of being let down again.
Running away only solves the current co-dependency, but understanding how the problem was created and taking responsibility for your part is an important step to healing the underlying issue, and preventing it from happening in the future.
Listen to your gut! Don’t dismiss your pain and anger, you need it to build a strong relationship with yourself which will result in future relationships functioning as they should.
It’s a tough process but in the end you will have the power to love yourself and others in a healthy way.
You don’t have to do it on your own. Get yourself a strong support team. NLP and hypnosis can be extremely beneficial to help you recognize and set your own boundaries, and give you the strength you need to make positive changes in your life.
Have you ever been part of a co-dependent relationship?