What is a Codependent Relationship?
In a codependent relationship, the caretaker puts the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs over their own. As a result, they frequently lack the ability to care for themselves – emotionally and physically — and spend a significant amount of time ensuring that the other person is cared for.
Codependence is generally characterized by excessive helping, clinging, and dominating behavior. Furthermore, the caretaker puts the other person’s wants, feelings, and thoughts before their own. Because of this, they frequently are unable to take care of their mental and physical needs, and instead spend a lot of time taking care of others. This happens often when one person in the relationship is an addict.
Once you have recognized whether you are codependent you may ask “can a codependent relationship be saved?” Below we talk about how you might go about this and what to be aware of.
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Signs You’re Codependant
First, it’s important to understand if you are codependent in your relationship or not. If you are still unsure below we list several signs to look out for.
You Have Stopped Taking Care of Yourself
You could find it difficult to satisfy your own needs or desires.That frequently leaves little time for yourself because you’re putting so much effort into the relationship.
You Don’t Do Many Fun Things Any More
Guilt is a terrible thing and can drive us to isolate. You may be afraid to leave the addict or person you’re caring for alone, and as a result you never leave the house or do things you enjoy without them. The otherside of the coin is that the addict may not even notice the effort youre putting forth to ensure they don’t have to be alone, leading to hurt feelings.
You Believe You Have the Power to Change Someone
The only person with the power to change how they act is the person themselves. They have to want to change, and make pro-active choices. No matter what you do, or don’t do, the other individual in the relationship has the power to make their own choices about it.
You May Find Yourself Anxious When They Are Gone
Needing them in the same vicinity as you becomes an almost obsession for some. You may find you feel anxiety when they go away for long stretches of time.
You Need Their Approval
You may hold their opinion about your own, or your own feelings may echo what they feel.
You’re Not Fully Happy in the Relationship
You can find it difficult to even recognize your own needs if you’ve consistently put someone else’s needs before your own. You might find it challenging to describe how the connection makes you feel specifically when you do think about it.
Types of Codependant Relationships
There are three main types of codependent relationships, each keep the codependent person trapped in a cycle. You may find that some of these overlap for you, or you may even be in a dynamic with all three types.
Remember, it’s always more important to take care of your own needs and self, before the needs of others. Navigating relationships with addicts can be especially difficult, which is why it’s important to encourage your loved one to reach out for help from services such as Sanctuary Recovery, rather than trying to fix the situation yourself.
When the other person is an addict: When there is addiction, it fosters the dynamics of infidelity because your loved one’s affections are focused on something else. Finding out the truth can leave you confused and hurt.
To make this worse, the addict may have dysfunctional communication patterns such as lying, making empty promises, threats and love bombing.
When you change your own life to fit in to this new person who lies, manipulates and struggles with addiction, you may be trying to gain control back over your life. By believing you can change them, or bring the old them back, you’re just perpetuating the cycle.
When the other person becomes abusive: Addicts aren’t always in control of their own actions in the same way they were before. This does not excuse anything but explains how abuse may begin. An abusive relationship is no longer balanced. It automatically becomes a power struggle between both people involved.
What makes this worse is that the abuse is rarely all the time but comes and goes. This may make it more tempting to stay, or you may even forget/dissociate episodes of abuse in the quiet moments, leading you to stop trying to leave.
As abuse goes on, the codependent will try to placate the abusive person to avoid further abuse. This can lead to isolation as you struggle to make more excuses and hide from the shame it causes.
You put the other on a pedestal: Peer pressure or insecurity are some names for this form of codependency. More than living to satisfy ourselves or a higher power, we try instead to please others.
Your attachment style: Sometimes how you were raised will heavily impact how you act in relationships. One attachment style frequently referred to as codependent is an anxious one. A person with an anxious attachment type could feel that they truly want to get close to someone, but they are afraid that they won’t be accepted by them.
Can a Codependent Relationship Be Saved?
You might be asking if saving a codependent relationship is possible if you’re in one. The quick answer is that a codependent relationship can be healed. But both parties must want it, and if your partner is an addict, they must get help on their own.
Reaching out for assistance is one of the first stages in mending a codependent relationship. This is a crucial stage because if you’ve been in a bad relationship for a while, you might not even be aware of how your behavior can hurt you and others.
Below are some ways you can heal codependency in a relationship:
Step 1: Self Love
This can be hard when you feel low and defeated from a turbulent relationship, but it’s important to try. You can start this by treating yourself how you wish others would treat you.
Step 2: Find Yourself
Often, in the depths of other’s addiction or abuse, we lose ourselves. It’s important to remember you first in every interaction. Look back on the things you used to enjoy or find new ways to experience joy again.
Step 3: Find New Things to Love
Keeping busy with new hobbies is another way to keep yourself grounded. The more time you spend on things you love doing, the more you will respect your time.
Step 4: Make New Friends
Codependency, especially with an addict, can make us feel ashamed, and so we push people away. The first step is to reach out to old friends and tell them the truth. Stay truthful, and talk out about what is happening in your life to the people you trust. The more honest you are, the more feedback you receive, the more you will heal. If you cannot gain old friends back, make new ones. Joining a group like AI-Anon will help you find others going through a similar situation.
Step 5: Learn to Set Boundaries
This is not an easy task for anyone, but it’s important to learn. Study books on this, learn what real boundaries look like, and set rules in place for how much you are willing to take. The hardest part, of course, is sticking to it. You can tell others not to treat you in certain ways, but when they do, you need to take action against it healthily.
Step 6: Get Therapy
This is the most important step. Having someone to help you navigate through this is important. Both individual and family or couples therapy will help you, and the addict or other person in the relationship find a way to heal together. You will learn new things about your relationship, see abusive patterns you couldn’t see before, and hopefully come out the other side in a better, stronger relationship than before.
Sanctuary Recovery Foundation
Putting your mental health first should always be your main priority. You cannot support anyone if you have not been supported. To find help for your addict today, contact us to discover the benefits of living with others who have the same desire to build a sober and healthy life.