Being codependent is a learned behavior that affects your ability to have a healthy and satisfying relationship. It is a behavioral and emotional condition that causes you to have relationships that are not beneficial to either of you.
This behavior is learned by observing family members who display this behavior and by imitating it. Any dysfunctional family where there is fear, anger, pain or shame can cause codependency. Some of the biggest contributing problems include:
- a family member with an addiction
- physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- a family member suffering from an illness
15 signs that you may be codependent
Codependent people tend to have low self-esteem and seek external sources of happiness. They struggle to be themselves and feel that they are a reflection of their partner. If you think you might be codependent, you can look for some of the following signs.
1. Feel the need to be in control
If you feel the need to control all situations, you may be codependent. You will notice the need to step in with solutions and advice, even when it is not desirable. Also, you may be frustrated if the other person doesn’t do what you wanted them to do.
You may think that they are wrong to make decisions alone, even when the situation does not involve you. If you feel the need to be in control, you can also ignore the ideas of others without even considering them.
2. You want to know what others think and do
If you want to know all the thoughts and actions of another person, codependency it could be a problem. Wanting to know what you are doing and thinking comes from feeling like a reflection of the other person. This shows that you are insecure, which causes dependency in a relationship.
It is normal for partners to know each other’s schedules, but codependency goes further. You’ll want to know every move they make, like going to the supermarket or the gas station. Also, you will constantly ask what they are thinking and wonder if they are honest about their thoughts.
3. You feel responsible for the actions of others
Another sign of codependency you feel anxious or guilty about other people’s problems. You may even feel embarrassed when your partner makes a mistake or says the wrong thing. This is a way of taking responsibility for your actions, even though you cannot control your actions.
4. You put aside your interests and needs
If you put aside your needs and wants to focus on other people, codependency could be a problem. While doing this once in a while is normal, doing it all the time is not. You may even accept things that you are not comfortable with to make the other person happy.
In any relationship, you have to put yourself first sometimes. You also have needs and wants, and you shouldn’t forget about them.
5. You are afraid of being alone
Staying in a relationship that doesn’t work is a sign of codependency. If you’re feeling trapped or leaving just to enter another unhealthy relationship, that’s an indication. Doing this shows that you are afraid of being alone and looking at others for satisfaction and happiness.
If you spend time alone, you may feel frantic or empty. You base your identity on having someone by your side and you feel incomplete when you are alone.
6. You always do more than your share
Doing more than your share all the time is a sign of codependency for several reasons. First, you are causing yourself a burnout. You can’t do everything alone and you need help to avoid stress.
If you have too many things to do, you won’t complete them properly, further contributing to your stress levels. Still, you will be afraid to speak up and ask for help when you need it. You will also likely never say no when someone asks you to do more.
Another reason that doing more than your share is a sign of codependency is because you allow your partner. You shouldn’t have to make sure your partner gets up and goes to work on time. Also, you shouldn’t have to pack their lunch every day or remind them to do things that they should already be doing.
Plus, you shouldn’t have to call and make appointments for them all the time. Your partner is not a child, and doing these things constantly for them allows their behavior and creates codependency.
Of course, sometimes you will want to do these things for your partner, but it shouldn’t be all the time. Doing things for your partner shouldn’t come at a cost to your well-being and health.
7. You feel rejected or angry when your partner spends time with friends.
If your partner makes plans with his friends and you get angry, then it is a sign of a bigger problem. You should not feel rejected or angry because it is healthy for couples to have lives outside of each other. Spending time with friends shouldn’t be a problem, but when codependency is a factor, your partner spending time with others is often a problem.
Also, if they have to talk to you often during their free time with friends, you may be codependent. It shows that you are trying to take control and power in the situation. Doing this shows a lack of respect in your relationship and for the friendships your partner has.
When you express anger or hurt, you can end up feeling guilty. Likewise, if you speak for yourself, you may also feel guilty. You will begin to suppress your emotions and remain quiet to avoid being assertive.
9. Has trouble setting and enforcing limits
Everybody should have limitsAnd you shouldn’t be afraid to include them in your relationship. Telling your partner that you don’t want to do something is essential to a healthy relationship. If you are having trouble with this, you may be experiencing codependency.
When you speak up and say you are not going to tolerate something, you are not enforcing your statement. It can linger while the behavior worsens, hurting you in the process and creating anger or bitterness.
10. You lie to yourself
Instead of solving the problems in your relationship, you ignore the problems and tell yourself that everything is fine. You will spend time convincing yourself that it is normal when deep down you know it is not.
11. You let your partner’s mood affect your day
While you surely want your partner to have a good day, you can’t let their bad mood get you down. You may sympathize and feel bad, but you should also be able to get on with your day without a negative mood swing.
If your partner’s bad day ruins your day, there may be codependency in the relationship. You may also feel that it is your responsibility to keep your partner happy. However, since you cannot control their thinking or their mood, it is impossible to change it.
You cannot allow their mood to affect your day. Otherwise, it will also harm your personal and professional life.
12. You feel unworthy
It could be a sign of codependency if you feel inadequate or don’t believe in people who compliment you. You may think that you don’t deserve the people in your life and the relationships that you have.
Feeling unworthy is a sign of codependency because you tend to trust your partner to make you feel worthy. You want them to see the good in you so much that you lower your self-esteem.
13. You put up with things you shouldn’t just to maintain a relationship
Staying with your partner despite poor health or dysfunctional behaviors it is a sign of codependency. When you do this, you are risking your physical and mental well-being. An even bigger indication that you may be codependent is if you try to minimize the consequences of your disruptive behavior.
14. You communicate badly
If you avoid talking about your feelings or keep quiet to avoid arguments, there may be a codependency problem. You may feel uncomfortable talking about your thoughts and feel like they don’t matter anyway. If you go a step further, you can say things you don’t mean just because the other person wants to hear them.
When trying to communicate, you may have trouble getting your point across. You can also express your emotions in a way that you did not intend.
You are likely to feel misunderstood and your words are misinterpreted. Talking tends to lead to arguments, withdrawal, or some other form of punishment, so you tend to remain quiet.
15. Needs approval
When you are constantly seeking approval from your partner, you may be codependent. Their opinion shouldn’t matter more than yours, and if they do, it’s a good indicator. You probably feel like a reflection of your partner, so you feel the need to get their approval and acceptance.
Another way you can seek approval is by trying to show that you are lovable. You may constantly try to get attention and spend too much time worrying about what they think of you.
If you are codependent, you may not have all of the signs mentioned above. You may identify with only a few of them, and it is still an indicator that you are codependent.
Once you’ve reflected on your behaviors and determined if these signs apply to you, seek help. Therapists can help, or you can take time to practice mindfulness and focus on yourself.