Relationships are a funny thing. We hear often that famous saying, “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” Isn’t that the truth?
Most times we say it in love and with laughter, but for some, this phrase is an actual statement into a deeper issue, one that supercedes fun, light and love. It’s about codependency.
What IS codependency? According to Wikipedia, codependency is the term used to describe a dysfunctional relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. Like whoa.
Aren’t we supposed to have our OWN identity in relationships?
While for most of us, we believe so, for some codependent people, the belief is that they are not complete until they are in a relationship and that person they are in love with, completes them.
I mean who can forget that scene in the Jerry Maguire movie when he says those same words, “You complete me.”
It sounds romantic and I am sure for some, it is a desire to hear these exact words but I urge you to STOP! It is another Hollywood scenario that sounds better on screen than in real life.
Remember 50 Shades of Grey? Very exciting movie and book, but think about it in real life. Think of it especially with a partner who may not be a milionaire and owns a hundred companies and looks like Christian Grey. Hey realistically most of us can’t or won’t attract that kind of guy into our lives in this lifetime (being real not pessimistic). Would it be as romantic if your guy lived on his friends’ couches and didn’t hold down a job? I thought so.
In life, we have to learn to discern what sounds more like a great fantasy or what can actually work in our life. Most times, romantic fantasies need to stay just there, in fantasy.
Here are three signs of a codependent relationship. If you notice some or all of these, hang tight. I got you. I will also talk about connections in love xo.
Signs of a Codependent Relationship:
1. Your Sense of Purpose is delayed as you tend to your partner’s needs
When I was younger, I was very much caught up in a codependent relationship with a boyfriend. I was a rising star at my college and given many blessings to advance forward in my path, but truthfully, I cared more about how he felt than my future. I remember there was a leadership conference and each college in the NorthEast United States were allowed to send two representatives from their school. Of course I was selected to represent my school and guess what I did? I threw it away to spend the week with my boyfriend.
When you are in a codependent relationship, the other person seems more important than you. Their needs, their desires, their wants are catered to and yours barely are acknowledged.
To break out of this mold, (and yes you can) the power scales need to be balanced. Start by taking inventory of a month. Are you only doing activities your partner wants to do or are your needs met? If you notice a tipping of the scales in their direction, have a talk with them and let them know that this is an issue for you and you would like it to be more balanced in your relationship. Either they will agree with you or not, and then you get to decide how that goes. But for now, start with inventory. Take an honest look at your relationship and decide how it feels.
In its broadest definition, a codependent is someone who cannot function from his or her innate self and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, or even a process, or substance.
2. You believe the other person is responsible for your happiness
In the first sign mentioned above, it is expected that the scales are as balanced as they can be to make it an equal relationship. This balancing does NOT equal out to your partner catering to you to make you happy.
One time I was arguing with a boyfriend when I was 14. I remember this clearly because of what I said and his response.
Me: ” I am so unhappy! It is your responsibility to make me happy in this relationship!”
Him: “Well then we are screwed because it is not my job to make you happy, that is your job. My job is to focus on my happiness and together we create a happy relationship.”
Lord that boy was smart. Smart and right.
No one can make you happy. YOU know this! But yet, once we get in relationships, it seems like all logic goes out the window and for some of us, we turn into whiny little babies who need constant attention.
We start placing blame when things go wrong and never think to look at ourselves. Why is this?
Sometimes we place the heavy obligation of happiness on another’s shoulder because we don’t want to face the truth that the relationship is not meeting our needs. We may know that it is time to move on but fear of being alone or dying single, keeps us in place. Then when we stay, we become unhappy and place that blame on our partners’ shoulders.
Be the bigger person. If you are not happy in your relationship, leave. If you are not happy with yourself, get help. Whatever it is, do anything but blame your partner. Because you know what? If your partner truly is the source of your unhappiness, then go back to step 1 and leave. It really is that simple.
I believe some people feel if they complain about it, it will somehow magically change to what they want. This is not how the Law of Attraction works. In fact, the more you complain about a source of displeasure, the more of it you will attract. I have tried repeatedly to share this information with several people in my life and guess what happens? Absolutely nothing. They keep complaining, and they keep staying in the rut they are in. In life, you have to know when to help and when to walk away and for these individuals, I tend to walk away.
If you can’t create a happy life using the resources you were given or have attained in life, then no one else will do it for you. This is your burden to bear. Figure it out.
3) You need to be around that person all the time
When you are with them, you feel ALIVE and full of love and happiness. When you are away from them, you call/text/snapchat often. When you can’t reach them, you are dying on the inside. If you do have peace and quiet in your alone time, it is because you know they are at work or the dentist and can’t access their phone. You feel happy and content.
Being alone is necessary. It is in our times of silence and solitude that we uncover the parts of ourselves that need the work or can do with some improvements. When you are around someone all the time, (and yes it can be the same person or different people), you are engaged in interactions. There is no time to reflect, meditate and do some self-analysis.
I think some people use people for constant companionship because they don’t want to have introspection! They know on a deeper level, there are some issues to sort out but don’t have the drive, interest or courage to do so.
I have met some highly functional and successful broken people and have been impressed! They have shrouded themselves in such a strong invisibility cloak, it would make Harry Potter jealous!
Try to factor in some alone time away from your partner. How does it feel?
If it brings up anxiety, stress or fears, then you are onto something. You may have hidden out in a codependent relationship for awhile but cleverly crafted it as, “We are a team” or “We do things together”.
No you are not. You were born into this world alone and you will go out alone. This precious partner of yours will not sacrifice their life to go with you at the end of your timeline. And more than likely, they will eventually move on and be with someone else until their end of time. This is natural because at the core of it, we each need to survive and thrive.
Now that we have some signs of codependency, let’s look at some signs of a healthy relationship. For some of you, there is a possibility to change a codependent relationship to a healthy one so why not try now? Just because you have identified being in a codependent relationship, doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in it. Here are three signs of a healthy relationship:
1) You Respect each other’s Boundaries
My partner loves riding his Harley and loves his dog. He will not tolerate anyone in his life that does not respect his need to ride and his time with his dog. I can tell you that I am not particularly interested in riding on the back of his motorcycle and I am not a pet owner or dog lover (I know shoot me). How do we make it work? We respect the boundaries.
I join him on his weekend bike rallies by either driving there with him or staying back so he can go with his friends who also love to ride. When we plan our schedules, we factor in time for him to go riding. I find something else to do. With his dog Silas, we include him in our plans and then we create events without him. We work together while respecting each other’s boundaries.
When you truly listen to your partner, you are not listening to respond but rather to understand. What makes them tick? What sets them off? And what can you do in the process to respect their process while also respecting yours?
Boundaries are needed in relationships! It lets each person know the level of safety and comfort available based on needs. Once needs are respected, each partner can relax more into the relationship and develop deeper bonds.
Take a personal inventory of your own relationships now. Do you know your partner’s boundaries? Do you respect and uphold them? What can you do differently to show respect for what your partner requires?
When you respect your partner’s boundaries, you allow room for connection because they trust you. They trust that you will not hurt them, not by your words but by your actions. This means everything to a person. I know it does for me.
If you don’t know what your boundaries or your partner’s boundaries are, no problem! Start making a list! I like to make a page with three columns and write down all the things I want in a relationship, what I can compromise on and what I cannot or will not tolerate. For example, I want a kind person in relationship, I can compromise on if they are a pet owner and I will not tolerate smokers. Once you make your list, ask your partner to do the same and it doesn’t matter if you have been together for 2 months or 20 years, start now in communicating! Boundaries can change over time as we age, so don’t be surprised if your partner says things that seem new to you. This is the process of connecting and if you stay with it, you will reach deeper levels of your relationship!
2) You have no problem saying NO to your partner
One time I was really into studying the ancient arts of tantric practice and I dragged my partner along with me. We were both in a room with our tantric teacher, me in a sarong and him in a sarong that barely covered his body. He looked delicious but uncomfortable! He went through the private session with me and loved it but he put his foot down and refused to go to a group class with nakedness where we talked about intimacy! He drew his line!
And you know what I did? I respected it. I didn’t push, beg, manipulate or anything of the sort. I agreed and found ways to continue my tantra study through books and online courses and then used the practices with him in the sanctity of our home.
In a relationship, you can say no. You don’t have to cosign to everything. Sometimes I see women doing the craziest things to please a man! Things they would never do but did it to keep his attention. Guess what happens? Invariably a breakup happens and those same women go bat s**t crazy! You know why right? Because they sacrificed their time, money and effort to be with him and they can’t for the life of themselves, figure out why he wouldn’t want to stay.
Say yes to the things that make you happy and interested to do. When my partner asks me to go visit his daughter in Myrtle Beach, hell yes please! When he asks me to go to a football game in the dead of winter, not so much.
You have to have a firm basis of stability in your relationship to be able to say no though. If you are insecure and unsure about yourself and the relationship, chances are you are going to keep saying yes to things even though you rather not. What happens is you will start to break down energetically and exhaustion sets in. You overextend yourself and you will feel it in the long run. Concerning your partner, you may shift blame to them for your tiredness or crankiness even though you were the one that said yes!
Save yourselves and your relationship this nightmare by just honoring where you are, what you need and what you can and cannot do. Trust me, they will love you for it and sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder.
3) You have a life outside of your relationship
When I do relationship coaching, I invariable start out with my clients drawing a pie chart and having them fill in each pie piece with what is needed for a well rounded life. Some write health, love, social, money, career, spirituality etc…. And then I have them color in the pie pieces on a scale from 1-10 with 1 meaning little to no effort and 10 as maxium effort.
For my codependent clients, most times the love piece is fully colored in and for the other parts there is a lot of blank paper!
Guess what happens to these same people who have break up? They absolutely crumble.
When you place all your worth, time and attention on any ONE of those pie pieces, your whole world can end if that piece is taken away. It is important to have a life outside of your relationship. Start by asking these questions:
- Do I have a daily spiritual practice?
- Do I spend enough time with my friends and social circle?
- Do I work hard enough or too hard?
- Do I take vacations?
- Do I work out daily or weekly?
- Do i spend enough time with my partner, too much or too little?
When you start asking these questions, you train yourself to see where your attention is. If you noticed in one week, you never meditated, worked out, made a home cooked meal and spent all your time at work….you can see how imbalanced a life is.
Create a life where you thrive in all areas of your life so if one unfortunately has to be removed, you can mourn in appropriation. It doesn’t consume you because there are so many other pieces that are working.
In the end, we all are pursuing happiness. If we attach this happiness to a relationship, we can create sadness by its departure.
Learn how to have healthy habits for the sake of your healthy body, positive mind and thriving soul. In return, your relationships in your life will blossom as you now have more to contribute to them than take from them. How wonderful that will be for everyone!
Until next time, stay in the love and the light
Uma is an intuitive consultant, consciousness coach, published author, inspirational speaker and the owner of Lotus Wellness Center in Northern VA.
To learn more about Uma’s classes and services, visit http://www.lotuswellnesscenter.net