5 Signs You're In a Codependent Relationship

Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including romantic partnerships, friendships, and with family members.

These relationships are one-sided, dysfunctional, and unhealthy. Mental Health America describes codependency as, “a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.” How can you tell if you’re in a codependent relationship? Look for these 5 signs and symptoms.

1. You spend all (or most) of your time thinking about the relationship

Codependents are uncomfortable at the thought of being alone. This fear and insecurity causes them to obsess over the relationship, analyzing every word and action. In this dynamic, it’s also common to go above and beyond in an attempt to influence your partner’s happiness.

2. You always say yes, even at the expense of your own wellbeing

As part of going the extra mile to please, codependent people put their partner before themselves and say yes to everything that’s asked of them. They’re driven to please the other person, and their sense of worth comes from feeling wanted and needed.

3. The relationship is a defining part of who you are

People in codependent relationships often lose their own interests, passions, and desires. Their entire sense of identity is wrapped up in the other person. In healthy relationships, each individual maintains their sense of self while being a supportive partner.

4. You have low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is a common symptom of codependency. The site, GoodTherapy, offers a good explanation for why this happens, writing, “Codependency may cause feelings of shame and worthlessness. A person may believe they do not deserve happiness. If a person does not value themselves, they may try to get others to value them. The sense of “being needed” can prompt internal gratification, even if the recipient of care does not show gratitude.”

5. In relationships, you always give more than you receive

According to Dr. Shawn Meghan Burn, author of Unhealthy Helping: A Psychological Guide to Codependence, Enabling, and Other Dysfunctional Giving, “In the codependent relationship, one person is doing the bulk of the caring, and often ends up losing themselves in the process.” One person becomes the giver, and the other becomes the taker. This tendency can have a big impact on the giver as they “overexert themselves physically and emotionally in order to please their partners.”

6. How can I recover from codependency?

Every codependent relationship is different, and you may or may not identify with these signs. To learn more about yourself and how you depend on partners, consider codependency counseling and therapy. Your therapist will help you understand why you feel and act the way you do in relationships, and can teach you how to develop healthy and mutually fulfilling partnerships.