What codependency looks like is when one person slowly becomes much too dependent on the other person. Over time, one person takes too much responsibility for keeping in touch and connecting. The other person does too little, pulls back and withholds care, time and effort. Often, this will happen early on while dating.
As one person withdraws, the other trys to make up for it by over functioning and working way too hard on the relationship. You are over functioning for their under functioning. When this starts to happen, and you are making all the sacrifices in support of your partner, you are on your way to an unhealthy codependent union.
The more you lavish attention on them, and the harder you try to get them to be caring and loving, the more dismissive and distant they become. You become codependent, taking on the responsibility for getting them to spend time with you and care for you. In order to avoid being codependent, it is important that you let your partner take responsibility.
Taking Responsibility For Someone Else Is What Codependency Looks Like
Each person needs to take responsibility for sharing their own inner feelings and thoughts and being together. If you do this for your partner, you are letting them know that they don’t have to do any of the work in the relationship. You will do it for them. That is what codependency looks like.
You may have started dating by feeling very confident and excited. At first, it feels like a fairy tale. But, as time goes on, you start to doubt yourself. If your partner is critical, after awhile this will effect your self esteem. Your self worth takes a nose dive, and you start to have a hard time making decisions.
If you feel like you’re losing yourself and need too much approval from your partner in order to feel good, you might want to stop and heed the warning signs.
For example, if one person is drinking excessively or binge eating until they are sick, resist the urge to join them or make it ok by denying there is a problem. Patterns of denial are common in codependency. Embrace your feelings and trust your gut instincts. Know that how you feel is important and valid. If it feels bad, you might be headed down an unhealthy path.
Losing Yourself Is What Codependency Looks Like
Codependents base their self worth on being needed, often at the expense of their own needs. In a healthy relationship, people treat each other with respect, trust, and are always honest with one another.
So, don’t give yourself away just so you can be loved. If you do, you will lose yourself. Then, you will feel empty and alone. Tell yourself that you deserve to be loved as the full and whole person that you are. You may need to learn to like yourself and feel worthy of having a partner that you can trust. It may take time to trust that a loving partner will come into your life.
You might tend to manifest codependency through extreme care taking, becoming a people pleaser and trying to fix your partner. Or it might take the form of rescuing. Coming in and saving the day. When you are helping at the expense of your own well-being, that’s when you know you need to examine your own codependency.
Boundaries and Setting Limits
Setting limits and having boundaries is an important skill to have while dating and beyond. Don’t let someone disrespect you just because you feel sorry for them. Don’t explain away bad behavior because they had a bad day or a bad childhood. Making excuses for bad behavoir is what codependency looks like.
You are allowed to set limits about what behaviors cross the line. Having a difficult time does not give people permission to treat others badly. If your partner does not have a handle on their disrespectful behavior, don’t take that on as something you have to put up with or fix. Being aware of this while dating will help you not fall into a codependent trap.
Don’t Lose Yourself, Maintain Your Own Activities
Make sure you maintain your own life, separate from your partner. Notice if they are maintaining their own life, too. Schedule time to see friends and family, or spend a night alone so you can unwind. Do things on your own and then you will have more things to talk about when you’re together. This is an important way to set limits.
It is so important to be mindful of maintaining the balance between time together and apart. Especially if you decide the relationship isn’t working. If you have nothing and no one else to turn to, it makes it much harder to leave.
If you are making too many sacrifices in order to take care of your partner’s needs, have a hard time saying no, keep quiet to avoid arguments or feel trapped in your relationship that is what codependency looks like.
Take Your Time And Really Get To Know Your Potential Partner
It takes three to six months of regular dating to really get to know someone. So, don’t give yourself away and decide that they are ‘the one’. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Because you really won’t know if this is right for awhile. See if you have a consistently positive, loving and caring experience with this person for a good six months.
In the meantime, you can practice maintaining healthy boundaries, and standing by your own truth. That way you can honor your integrity whether others approve or not.
Don’t be afraid to value your own body. Your body is also part of setting limits and boundaries. We live in a culture where sex is recreational, rather that being an expression of love. If you are looking for love, it’s ok to reserve your body for a relationship that truly deserves it. You can wait for sex, and make sure the person your dating is really someone who will value true connection and love.
Childhood Family Dynamics Can Help You Understand What Codependency Looks Like
Growing up in a dysfunctional family can lead to codependent relationships as an adult. If your parent was unreliable, unavailable or you had to take care of them instead of your parent taking care of you, you might be repeating the same dynamic in your adult relationships. You learned to repress your feelings and disregard your own needs, which sets up an unfulfilling pattern that you might be bringing into your present adult relationships.
These dynamics are often ingrained and very difficult to change on your own. Psychotherapy is very good for learning how your childhood issues connect to dysfunctional patterns in adulthood and the roots of codependency. Knowing where it all comes from helps you make changes and learn better relationship skills.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing EMDR is very helpful for healing from the sometimes traumatic roots of codependency.
Neurofeedback can also help your nervous system to calm down, making you more resilient and able to make the desired changes.
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