Throughout the years, clients frequently come to me saying “I can’t get my partner to do what I want them to” and “I’m emotionally and physically exhausted from feeling like my relationship is one-sided”.
I work with clients to have more fulfilling relationships by exploring codependency.
The term “codependent” was first used in reference to spouses of alcoholics. However, these characteristics have been found to be much more prevalent than originally thought. There are two definitions of codependency that resonate with me: 1.) “Doing for someone else what they can do for themselves”, this means emotionally and physically. 2.) “The inability to separate your feelings from the feelings of others”. Codependency often manifests as trying to control the outcome of a situation.
If you feel like your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being is dependent solely on your partner, ask yourself these questions:
Do you feel anxious more than any other emotion in your relationships?
Do you think that the people in your life would not be able to function without your constant efforts?
When someone refuses your help do you get upset?
Are you resentful when your efforts go unnoticed?
When your partner makes a mistake do you feel humiliated?
Is the majority of your time spent worrying about your partners’ feelings and needs?
Does it feel like you often make sacrifices for you partner and get little in return?
Is it difficult for you to say no?
If you answered yes to the majority of these questions you may be experiencing some codependency in your relationships. Are you saying to yourself, “Yes, but I like taking care of the people in my life.” While general empathy and compassion towards others is a healthy and necessary component of relationships, codependency becomes toxic when our ability to function independently (mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically) is compromised.
One of my very favorite books is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I quote “Whatever problem the other person has, codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling, and behaving toward ourselves and others that can cause us pain. Codependent behaviors or habits are self-destructive.”
Codependent traits begin at a very early age and are learned, which means it takes time to break the pattern.
One effective way to begin to take control back of your life is through setting healthy boundaries. You can go to my website www.zoeticcounseling.com to sign up for my free cheat sheet on that topic. As always be compassionate and kind to yourself, because growth can be challenging, painful, and messy, AND beautiful and empowering.