You know that euphoric feeling that comes with falling in love? We crave it – the rush of emotion, the excitement at getting to know someone new – staying in bed all weekend because you can’t get enough of each other. Much like riding a roller coaster, we like the adrenaline rush!
There’s nothing wrong with falling in love, with craving that time together. Romance is something we all desire. But what happens when your love crosses a line into something unhealthy?
Codependency is one of the biggest challenges we face in relationships.
But here’s the other thing: it’s also insidious, sneaking up on us when we think we’re fine. Instead of developing ourselves and our own power as individuals, in a codependent relationship, we come to depend on the other person as the sole source of happiness and fulfillment. Most people don’t even realize they are enacting codependent patterns, because we are taught that romantic relationships are supposed to provide so many things for us – happiness, fulfillment, love, affection, and perpetual joy! In essence, you place your power in the hands of someone else. YOUR PARTNER is completely responsible for making you happy.
This doesn’t work.
We are each responsible for our own happiness, and in a healthy relationship, both partners maintain their power. They pursue their own personal goals. They are able to give to one another without compromising themselves – their own dreams, actions and desires.
“Needing” your partner is not love, it’s fear – and this is the root of codependency – fear. Fear of being alone, of never finding someone to love, of not being “enough.”
Following are 3 ways to know if you’re in a co-dependent relationship:
You can’t live without your partner.
While it seems romantic, if the idea of living without a partner fills you with dread, or if you find yourself jumping from one serious relationship to the next, you’re enacting codependent behavior. It’s important to pursue your interests outside of a relationship, and to know that you can be independent. Be by yourself for a while so you can feel comfortable being alone – it’s truly empowering. Carrying this feeling of empowerment with you into your next relationship will make a healthy difference.
You like to play emotional caregiver.
Again, it seems romantic to want to take care of someone. But if you jump into relationships with damaged people, taking them on as “projects” and trying to help heal their wounds, you’ll be left feeling unhappy and disempowered. We are each meant to feel empowered – not by depending on others for our happiness, but by creating our own. Whether you let someone else take care of you emotionally, or you feel the need to take care of them, you are taking part in a codependent relationship. Have the strength to let them go so they can stand on their own without needing your help. This is the only way for each of you to reclaim your power, and will make both of you happier in the long run.
You don’t think you deserve love.
Many people in codependent relationships feel emotionally “incomplete,” and that they need to prove themselves or be someone special to earn someone’s love. This is not the case – love is given freely when it is healthy. We all deserve love. We are all “good enough.” If your partner is telling you to be someone else in order to “win” his love, run the other way. If he breadcrumbs you, leave him. You deserve love – it is not something to “get.” It is something two people give to each other.