Do you feel like you must prove you are good enough to be loved by your partner? Or maybe you do everything for your partner, but you get little in return?
Or are you always busy and over-committing yourself? Maybe you always say yes to your partner.
If this one-sided pattern reflects your relationship, then you may be in a codependent relationship.
What Is Codependency?
It’s where you become excessively reliant on others for approval, identity, and feelings of self-worth.
Being codependent often stems from our childhood and the way we were raised. Consider if any of this relates to you:
- Did you have your basic needs met?
- Were there financial issues in the family?
- Were you neglected?
- Were your parents workaholics? Were you neglected or abandoned?
- Did they get a divorce? And if so, how did that impact you?
- Did you feel safe as a child? Or were you abused?
Codependency and Childhood Trauma
As children, we are vulnerable and completely dependent on our parents and caregivers for food, safety, and boundaries. However, if you’ve suffered feelings of abandonment, then you can easily take on the role of caretaker.
In other words, you’ve put your parent’s needs first, above your own.
What’s more, childhood trauma can create your belief systems, mindsets, and limiting beliefs; which can lead to repeating the same behavior in adult relationships. It can create who you are relationally as adults and determine how you feel about yourself.
If you didn’t get your needs met in childhood, then you may find you put others’ needs before your own, give of yourself to others and compromise your ability to care for yourself.
Unfortunately, dysfunctional families don’t acknowledge that a problem exists, which means the family members repress emotions and disregard their own needs.
And so, this becomes a pattern of survival. And often, family legacy.
If this is you, then you may also experience emotions of anger, guilt, grief, fear, and shame, due to feeling powerless to change or help another person.
What Are The Signs Of A Codependent Person?
If you’re wondering if you or a loved one has codependency issues, here are the most common signs to look for:
Most Common Signs Of Codependency:
- Feel most comfortable when they are giving
- Try to please others instead of themselves
- Have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility
- Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem
- Try to be all things to all people all the time
- Unable to say “no”
- Seek out chaos and then complain about it
- Get angry when somebody refuses their help
- A tendency to have self-esteem connected to “doing”
- Try to prove they are good enough to be loved
- Try to be perfect, and expect others to be perfect
- Have self-blame and put themselves down
- Feel victimized by the “selfishness” of others
Impact Of A Codependent Relationship
Giving up your needs and identity to meet the needs of a partner has unhealthy short-term and long-term consequences.
You can become anxious, exhausted, and begin to neglect other important relationships. What’s more, you may feel victimized by the “selfishness” of others.
Being in a codependent relationship can stop you from healing your past wounds.
How To Overcome Codependency?
The best way is to take responsibility for that part of yourself that is no longer needed to provide survival. This means, releasing the survival pattern from childhood by exploring childhood issues.
Sometimes it’s easier to want to change and take responsibility once you link your behavior to your childhood. I witnessed this when I worked with a woman who was in a relationship with a much older man. It started when they had an affair, and she left her husband for him.
In the beginning, he was strong, intelligent and very kind to her. It felt like the relationship she had always craved, even as a child, especially as she had experienced abandonment by her father during her childhood years.
However, after a year together, she began to feel completely lost as he became more controlling. She panicked and felt she couldn’t leave the relationship, as this started to activate her feelings of childhood abandonment.
What’s more, she carried a tremendous amount of guilt because she left her husband to be with this man. She felt she had to make this relationship work.
While working with her, it became clear that the connection she had with this man was related to sex. She was trading sex for feeling loved.
One day, she decided to leave him. As she told him, he said they should still have sex, even if they were not in a relationship. She told herself, “sure, I can just have sex with him. It’s not love. Just sex.”
The truth was that sex with this man was an unhealthy pattern connected to an untreated attachment wound from her childhood. Once she understood this, then she saw herself standing over her child self, the same little girl who had experienced the devastation of her father’s abandonment.
When she imagined sending that little girl into the room to have sex with the man, guess what happened? She never had sex with him again.
She realized she was only with him because she longed for a false connection through sex, which was hurting her because she hadn’t healed her deep-rooted feelings of hurt, loss, and anger from past wounds.
The Next Steps: Codependency Retreat
We recommend that you seek support from professionals and talk about the pain that’s inside of you.
Remember, you are worthy of happiness and love and a healthy relationship. You can have relational freedom.
We provide support and healing for those of you that are interested in a 5-day relationship intensive workshop The Glass House. Our Repair & Restore Retreat will help you begin a new chapter of your life where you will learn to no longer suffer from unhealthy relationships. We help codependents by focusing on creating healthy boundaries, building self-esteem, learning how to say “no” without guilt, cultivating deep self-care, and you will learn to define and understand your attachment style.
Our clients include family members, spouses, and individuals who struggle in the workplace or in the home with codependency.
In addition, we offer individual coaching that can be done remotely by phone, text and face time. Learn more about our Programs. We’re here to help.