Healthy Codependence vs Unhealthy Codependence
Human beings are social creatures and we have an inborn desire to form interpersonal attachments with others. All relationships have an aspect of healthy codependence, or interdependence, which is necessary for a relationship to thrive. Sometimes, when one person is unable to find satisfaction outside the relationship or within themselves something seemingly healthy can turn the corner into unhealthy codependency.
An interdependent relationship involves two people who are willing and able to take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, actions and internal satisfaction. Their self-worth is not based on approval from their partner, so they are able to respect and support each other without fear of losing themselves or sacrificing their own happiness. Interdependent relationships allow room for each partner to pursue their individual interests and goals, while also providing support, encouragement, and commitment to one another.
Codependency, on the other hand, happens when there is an excessive emotional or psychological reliance to feel “ok” on a romantic partner, friend, parent, or child. A codependent dynamic sends the message “I need you to need me”, and is often commonly seen in relationships where one person requires support due to an illness or addiction.
When it comes to recognizing when a healthy relationship has become unhealthy, or even toxic, awareness is half the battle. Here are 3 major signs that you may have fallen into a codependent dynamic:
1. You deny your own needs to make your partner or loved one happy.
Finding yourself neglecting your own self-care, physical health, financial health, and emotional well-being to meet the needs or desires of your loved one can be an indicator of codependency.
2. You either refuse to acknowledge or even enable your loved one’s addiction, poor mental health, juvenile behavior, inadequacies, or indiscretions.
You may, in fact, enjoy the feeling you get when you are able to rescue your partner or prevent them from experiencing the natural consequences of their actions. It may make you feel important or feed your self worth. If you have a tendency to remain in relationships with someone you know is destructive or dysfunctional, it may be an indicator of codependency.
3. You rely on one person to make you feel whole, complete, and satisfied in life.
You may feel a constant longing for validation from someone or something outside of yourself. If you believe that one person is completely responsible for your happiness and sense of self-worth, it may be an indicator of codependency.
If you recognize these or similar patterns of codependency in your relationship, working toward making a decision to put your needs first, set boundaries with loved ones, and make your mental, emotional, and physical health a priority can benefit you. Remember, the most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship you have with yourself.