Have you ever found yourself in a one-sided relationship where you felt as if you were the one doing all the giving, all the caring, while receiving nothing in return?
If this dynamic sounds familiar, it’s likely you’re trapped in the web of codependency, a pattern of behavior where your self-worth and identity hinges on the approval of another person.
Codependency was first defined nearly half a century ago to describe unhealthy relationships characterized by excessive control or compliance, often with one partner lacking self-sufficiency and autonomy. Through constantly sacrificing for others and ignoring their own needs, codependents find self-esteem by winning a partner’s approval. Because they lack self-worth, codependent people have great difficulty accepting from others.
How can you tell if your relationship is unhealthy? Here’s a list of common feelings and symptoms associated with codependency. If you identify with any of the statements below, you may be in a codependent relationship.
- You feel as if your life revolves around your partner
- You cancel plans to accommodate the whims of your partner
- No matter how hard you try, nothing you do is ever good enough
- You’re a classic peace-keeper and people-pleaser
- You’ve found yourself in relationships with addicts, drug users, or have been verbally or physically abused
- You’re always smiling and try to appear cheery, even when you’re feeling mad or sad
- You play the role of caregiver in your family or with your partner
- You feel ashamed about what’s really going on inside your relationship – but keep that secret to yourself
- Your mood is dictated by your partner’s mood and behavior
- You feel devalued or disrespected in your relationship
- Anxiety is the emotion you feel most often in your relationship
- You spend a lot of time trying to conform or balance your partner’s wishes and preferences
If you see any of these signs of codependency within yourself or your relationship, it’s essential to recognize dysfunctional patterns and educate yourself about the consequences of remaining in an unhealthy dynamic. Remember, healthy love is about creating partnerships that are inter-dependent and characterized by mutual respect and honesty. Recovery is possible through emotional healing and redefining the way you value yourself.
Join Melody Wilding and EmpowHER for a Twitter chat all about codependency Thursday, April 23 at 7pm EST. Follow the hashtag #HERchat to join the conversation!