One of the biggest problems plaguing many would-be healthy relationships is codependency. Because the negative behaviors and effects found within codependent relationships are often subtle, it can be difficult to spot codependency while looking from the inside out. Codependent relationships look slightly different from instance to instance, but the overwhelming majority share several key characteristics. If you are questioning the healthiness of your relationship, read on to learn more about eight common signs of codependency:
- Your self-worth comes too much from the approval of others.
Relationships turn from healthy to emotionally destructive when one or more parties begin to base their self-worth, and their identity, entirely on the approval of others. While it is natural to want to make your partner, friends, or family happy, you may be in a codependent relationship if you find your sense of self rising and falling–with the whims and moods of your loved ones.
- Your relationship is heavily one-sided.
Each relationship will have moments of give and take, but excessive effort and sacrificing on one side could be a sign of serious problems. If you find yourself consistently giving much more than you receive, and constantly sacrificing to please another, you may be a victim of codependency.
- You are sacrificing your health to support and uplift your loved ones.
If you are putting your health at risk by remaining with, or supporting your partner or family, you may be part of a codependent relationship. Neglecting to take care of your needs—whether they are physical or mental—is a dangerous behavior that’s often one of the most obvious signs of codependency. There should always be enough “room,” and enough resources, in a relationship for each member to stay healthy and uplifted.
- You feel excessive anxiety.
Individuals in codependent relationships can often feel extremely nervous and anxious at any given time—even when anxiety was not an issue previously present in their psyche. If you feel excessive anxiety as a result of trying to constantly please your partner, friends, or family, it may be a warning sign of a codependency.
- You ignore the unhealthy behaviors in your relationship.
Codependent individuals often have a difficult time recognizing their codependency, leading them to justify and rationalize the dangerous behaviors of their loved ones. If the parties in your relationship are abusive, demeaning, or addicted to substances/negative lifestyles, and you choose to remain with them regardless, you may have a problem with codependency. Ignoring unhealthy behaviors and character traits now will likely lead to greater problems down the road—and the longer you remain in the toxic relationship, the more codependent you become.
- You struggle to find outside sources of happiness or worth.
While your loved ones can, and should, be sources that contribute to your happiness, the inability to find joy or worth outside of your relationship is a critical warning sign of codependency. If happiness does not seem to exist for you, without the validation and acceptance of the partners in your relationship, there is a good chance you are codependent.
- You have low self-esteem.
Participants in codependent relationships tend to have serious self-esteem issues. As codependents constantly try to people-please, and to live up to the expectations placed upon them by their partners, they often feel inadequate and unworthy. If your low self-esteem developed around the time you entered into your current relationship, codependency may be the root cause.
- Your communication becomes warped and inaccurate.
The way you communicate with the people in your relationships says a lot about your level of codependency. Codependent individuals have a tendency to gloss over their true thoughts and feelings, defaulting to “I don’t care” and “That’s ok.” If you are in a codependent relationship, it is highly possible that you have become so deeply absorbed in transforming into what you think others want, or need from you, that you have truly forgotten how to express your own ideas and sentiments.
Turning away from codependent relationships can be incredibly challenging, but it is never too late to change, and to better your life. If you have grown codependent through an unhealthy relationship, working with your loved ones and a licensed therapist can help you progress, and learn to stand independently once more.