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Why Codependence in a Relationship Isn’t Healthy

Jonathan Riley

“Codependence is a silent thief, stealing away our sense of self.” – Melody Beattie

If you’ve ever heard the term “codependence,” you might associate it with intense devotion, unwavering support, or just two people being really close. On the surface, it sounds positive, yet, below the surface, it can often indicate a troubling imbalance in a relationship.

At its core, codependence means an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. It’s when one person feels that their happiness, well-being, and self-worth are directly linked to another person’s actions, moods, and validation. It’s more than just being in love or caring deeply for someone; it’s allowing the state of another person’s life to determine the quality of your own.

Here’s why this kind of relationship dynamic isn’t healthy:

1. Loss of Individual Identity: One of the most profound effects of codependence is the gradual erosion of your sense of self. If your thoughts, feelings, and actions are continually centred around another person, you may start to forget who you are outside of that relationship. Relationships should encourage growth, not stifle it.

2. Emotional Imbalance: In a codependent relationship, emotions can often feel like a roller coaster. If your partner is unhappy or upset, you might feel responsible, even if it has nothing to do with you. This kind of emotional burden isn’t fair and can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

3. Stunted Personal Growth: If you’re always focused on your partner’s needs, when do you find the time to address your own? Personal development and self-awareness take a backseat when you’re always trying to please or appease someone else.

4. The Illusion of Control: One characteristic of codependence is the belief that you can control or fix another person’s problems. This not only puts undue pressure on you, but it also deprives the other person of the opportunity to learn and grow from their experiences.

5. Resentment Builds: It’s not uncommon for the ‘giver’ in a codependent relationship to eventually feel taken for granted. This can foster feelings of resentment, as they may feel their sacrifices go unnoticed or unappreciated.

6. Fear of Abandonment: Codependents frequently have a deep fear of being abandoned or abandoned. This fear can result in tolerating unacceptable behaviours or staying in situations that are harmful because the idea of being alone seems even worse.

7. Lack of Genuine Intimacy: While a codependent relationship might seem close on the outside, it often lacks genuine intimacy. True intimacy is built on mutual respect, trust, and understanding – not dependency.

But why do people find themselves in codependent relationships? It’s complex and can stem from past traumas, family dynamics, or deep-rooted insecurities. Recognizing these patterns is the first step towards understanding and, ultimately, healing.

Understanding the implications of codependence is essential, not to instil fear but to promote awareness. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, understanding, and the freedom for both individuals to be themselves. They allow space for personal growth and self-reflection. It’s not about losing yourself in someone else but rather growing together while also nurturing your individual identities.

If reading this makes you reflect on your relationship and wonder if you might be caught in the web of codependence, it might be time to seek guidance. It’s never too late to redefine the foundations of your relationship and rediscover your sense of self. Remember, seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a step towards a healthier, happier you. My Practice Counselling Melbourne