Perhaps you’re getting frustrated with some of your relationships. You might feel like some of your loved ones rely on you for far too much. But no matter what they ask of you, you feel obligated to provide it.
Even when you wish you could take a step back from the relationship, you feel a sense of responsibility towards them. You feel like your identities have become intrinsically linked. Maybe you feel unhappy with these relationships, but at the same time, you don’t know who you would be if you walked away.
These relationship characteristics all point towards codependency. Codependency is a common problem in romantic relationships, within families, and even between friends.
Here’s how to recognize codependency and take steps to overcome this issue.
Recognize the Signs
When you’re in a codependent relationship, you may feel like your needs are always coming second to someone else’s. In many instances, you feel like they are taking advantage of your kindness and commitment to the relationship.
You often have to neglect your own needs because your well-being comes in second place. But simultaneously, you worry that stepping away from the relationship would leave you feeling lonely and unmoored.
In a codependent relationship, it can feel like your identity is entwined with another person.
Break Down Beliefs About Your Relationships
If you’ve recognized these signs of codependency in your relationships, it’s time to reflect on what you believe about these relationships and why.
Do you feel a sense of duty to the person in question? Maybe you worry that if you try to make decisions for yourself, the relationship will end, and you’ll be responsible. Or maybe you believe that if you put yourself first, other people will think you’re selfish. By figuring out the roots of these beliefs, you can come up with ways to move forward.
Separate Healthy and Unhealthy Behaviors
It’s important to note that everyone will face times of need in which they need more support than usual from their family and friends. But in healthy relationships, this support will be reciprocated between both parties.
If you have to maintain relationships with people with whom you have become enmeshed, remember that a close, mutually supportive relationship looks very different from a codependent relationship. You deserve to have your own needs met and to be able to make space for yourself.
You can begin by setting and upholding boundaries in your relationships that give you the independence and autonomy you need. For instance, you might feel annoyed that your loved one expects you to be available for them at all hours of the day.
You may want to silence your notifications at certain times and be clear that you have your own responsibilities to attend to. If you are a primary caregiver for a dependent and cannot just step away on a whim, you may want to look into hiring more support or getting in touch with other relatives who can pitch in so that you can get some breathing room.
It can be very difficult to overcome a codependent relationship on your own. This is especially true if you’re struggling with codependency in your marriage or with relatives whom you live with.
And if you’ve realized that you would be better off without these relationships, figuring out your new path in life can be challenging. In these instances, it can be a good idea to seek the professional guidance of a therapist.