Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.
Codependent relationships can be one of the most destructive kinds of relationships you can be in because it’s often hard to know when your relationship is codependent or merely interdependent. The former is toxic, while the latter is perfectly normal and healthy. Because the distinction between the two is such a fine line, it can be easy to miss the signs of codependency, especially when many of us don’t know precisely what a codependent relationship looks like.
Relying on your partner is part of a healthy relationship, and a relationship works best when a couple feels comfortable in trusting and depending on each other. In a healthy relationship, each partner is independent and can mutually support each other. But in codependent relationships, partners often prioritize their relationship over their personal physical and mental well-being.
There's more to a codependent relationship than spending too much time with each other. A codependent relationship usually stems from more complex issues that could involve personal insecurities and your relationship attachment style. It’s also important to keep in mind that you may not be the codependent partner in the relationship and that it’s equally toxic to be in a relationship with someone who is codependent.
6 Questions to See if You’re in a Codependent Relationship
To identify whether your relationship is codependent or not, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1. Do You Consciously Test Each Other?
Do you come up with tests to affirm your love for each other? Do you or your partner threaten to leave so you can be implored to stay? Do you or your partner flirt with other people just to make each other jealous? Continually making each other prove that you want to be together is hugely destructive to the relationship, and is another indicator of codependence.
A couple in a healthy relationship doesn’t force each other to prove their love, and when one feels neglected, they can express their need for attention directly and in a much healthier way that leaves no room for misunderstandings.
2. Do You Make Excuses For One Another?
Accidentally treating each other poorly may happen even in a healthy relationship, but partners will call each other out for their poor behavior and are comfortable with discussing the state of their relationship so they can identify areas for improvement.
But because couples in a codependent relationship can tend to avoid conflict at all costs, partners will ignore or make excuses for each other’s poor behavior. When you’re always explaining away poor treatment of each other, you’re not dealing with the problem and letting it fester into something even more destructive to the relationship.
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3. Do Either of You Constantly Need Reassurance?
Do you feel like you need always to reassure each other that you’re loved? Are either of you worried that one will choose to leave the relationship? Partners in a healthy relationship are secure in the knowledge that they are loved by their partner, and will rarely feel anxious or insecure about the resilience or strength of their relationship.
Constantly being afraid of a break-up will cause one or both of you to feel the need to “cling” to each other, which is a major indicator of codependence.
4. Is Your Relationship Intense and Filled With Drama?
While many codependent relationships will avoid conflict, excessive fighting can also define codependency. Is there a lot of tension in your relationship? Deep down, do either of you enjoy the drama of fighting and the cycle of breaking up only to make up again? If your relationship is filled with excessive drama, it could mean that you are too dependent on each other and your relationship is taking up too much of your life, both significant indicators of codependency.
5. Does Your Relationship Define You?
A romantic relationship will become a major part of our lives and can influence the kind of person we become in the future, but we should never tailor our lives around the relationship. If your relationship defines your identity, instead of making up only a part of it, that’s toxic. Couples in healthy relationships often are comfortable being with their partner and can lead a fulfilling life independent of the relationship.
6. Do You Gloss Over Issues?
Disagreements will happen in any relationship, and at some point, one or both of you will feel dissatisfied with an aspect of the relationship. When conflicts or dissatisfactions do occur, do you ignore it and start to feel resentful over time? How often do you sit down and discuss your relationship, taking the opportunity to talk about areas you want to improve on together?
A couple in a healthy relationship will approach conflicts or concerns calmly, directly, and respectfully. Codependent relationships, on the other hand, tend to ignore the state of the relationship. A codependent couple will also tend to react compulsively to concerns rather than be proactive about them.
A Codependent Relationship Isn’t Doomed to Fail
You don’t have to relate to every codependent indicator discussed here to have a codependent relationship. If you answered “yes” to just a few of these questions, there’s a good chance that you’re in a codependent relationship. But this doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed to fail.
Realizing that you’re in a toxic relationship means that you can now do something about it. Overcome your fears of breaking the relationship and have a mature talk with your partner. Find a way to bring your partner on to the same page so you can work together to bring your relationship back to a healthy state. But, if that doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to consider moving on for the sake of your personal well-being and start recovering from your codependent relationship.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 KV Lo