There are many definitions online for the term codependency or to be codependent. It can mean a lot of different things and look myriad ways in regard to relationships.
I can tell you, from our perspective (Bret, my husband, and I), what codependency looked like by stating the following definition — from Scott Wetzler, PhD, psychology division chief at Albert Einstein College of Medicine:
Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy.
He goes on to say,
One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment.
Personal anecdote: Years ago, during a marriage counseling session (for Bret and I), the therapist suggested we were basically in a codependent relationship. And I went home and I Googled that because I was very defensive,
“That’s not us!”
And sure, I could find plenty of definitions that would support my ego, where I could easily deny the truth. I mean, there are definitions online for just about anything from a psychological standpoint. It doesn’t take much for your confirmation bias to scream,
“Yeah, see! That’s not me!”
But this particular definition (above) was pretty accurate. It’s important for me to be honest and transparent because people see that we’ve been married (and together, in general) for a really long time. And they’ll say,
“I want to have a relationship like that! Hashtag goals!”
I just don’t want anyone to ever think that if your relationship isn’t perfect right now, that it doesn’t have the potential to be better. Bret and I are living proof.
Almost anyone can be in some variation of a codependent relationship. Some signs include:
- feeling dissatisfied or almost empty
- doing anything outside of time spent or a connectedness to a specific person
- recognizing unhealthy behaviors in your partner, but staying with them (to fix those things or compensate for them)
Another sign that you might be in a codependent relationship?
Giving support or catering to your partner at the cost of your own:
- mental health
- emotional stability
- physical needs
- financial security
The last sign I’ll mention in this blog:
People who are in a co-dependent relationship feel more anxiety than any other emotion in their relationship. And they spend most of their time and energy and thought processes focused on how to keep their partner happy. Or, stated another way, trying to conform to the wishes of their partner.
Tip: Listen to the feedback of people around you.
When people comment that it’s odd you are never apart or, perhaps, notice that there’s conflict anytime you two try to separate in any way.
For much more related to this topic, including:
- Why couples might tend to grow apart
- The times in our relationship I was resistant to change
- Why it’s healthy to have independence in your relationship
Then, you must check out The Chalene Show episode below:
And don’t forget to subscribe to TCS for weekly shows dedicated to your personal development — from health to relationships to happiness.