Do you feel like your partner is your entire world? Are you constantly exhausted by the effort it takes to keep your relationship alive? Do you often have to make extreme sacrifices to meet your partner’s needs? Are you constantly enabling their bad behaviors by shielding them from the consequences of their actions? Do you take on most or all of the responsibility in the relationship? Is your entire life built around pleasing your partner? All these are symptoms of codependency and it can do a world of harm to you, your significant other, and your relationship.
It prevents you from having a healthy, satisfying relationship. When you’re in a co-dependent relationship, you basically become addicted to your partner. Your entire existence revolves around them. Your feelings and actions are dictated by their moods. You find no sense of fulfillment outside of the relationship. You’ll feel compelled to walk through fire just so you can feel loved and wanted by your partner. You’ll do anything for them no matter how much pain it causes you.
Your self-esteem takes a nosedive. Codependency can lead you to believe that you’re only valuable when you’re doing something for someone else. You think that the only way to prove your worth is by being useful or needed by your partner. Trying to fix them or care for them gives you validation and a sense of purpose. Managing their behaviors makes you feel like you’re in control, but the painful truth is that you’re insecure and you’re trying to ensure they remain in your life by doing everything to please them.
It creates inequalities between you and your partner. It takes two people to create a codependent relationship. One person is usually the giver and the other is the taker. Givers are driven by a pathological need to help the relationship survive. The fear of abandonment and loneliness makes them go to great lengths emotionally and physically to keep their partners happy. Takers love this dynamic because they end up getting more than they give. They’re typically immature, addicts, or suffering from a personality disorder.
It leads to poor, ineffective communication. It can be difficult to communicate honestly and openly when you have a codependent mindset. You spend most of the time being unaware of your own desires and needs because you’re so focused on your partner or vice versa. And when you know what you want, you might be unwilling to express them to avoid upsetting your partner. You may feel like taking care of them is all that matters, so you prioritize that over your own wellbeing and satisfaction instead of asserting yourself.
You lose your individuality. In a healthy relationship, both partners understand the need for retaining some level of independence. They carve out time for themselves and the things they enjoy doing. They have their own interests and activities that are separate from what they share with their partner. In a codependent relationship, all that goes away. One or both partners completely lose themselves in the relationship. They stop having an identity outside of that relationship. Everything in their life revolves around their partner.
It sets you up for emotional abuse. Codependency pushes you to ignore problematic behaviors like gaslighting, possessiveness, cheating, violence, and abuse. You become comfortable with your partner treating you however they like. Instead of calling them out when they behave badly, you bury your feelings. You concede to their unreasonable demands just to please them. You start to defer to their opinions and seek their approval to do basic things because you don’t trust yourself anymore.
You’ll have a hard time getting your needs met. In a healthy relationship, you can ask for what you need and your partner would do their best to meet those needs they care about you. But in a codependent relationship, you may be ignored, shamed, insulted, yelled at, emotionally blackmailed, blamed, or punished for expressing your needs. So you start to suppress those needs because you feel you partner won’t value or acknowledge them.
It makes it difficult to identify your emotions. Codependency can be so insidious. One moment you’re entering into a relationship with your own thoughts and feelings. The next, you’re checking in with your partner to see how you’re supposed to feel or respond to a situation. You abandon who you are in favor of becoming one with them that you no longer know where your feelings end and theirs begin. You stop being in touch with your own thoughts and emotions, so you end up shouldering responsibilities that aren’t yours to carry.
You lose connections with family or friends. Your partner isn’t meant to be your whole world. That’s a sign of codependency. It places your focus on your partner to the point where you start to withdraw from other important people in your life. This makes it even harder to leave the relationship when you decide it’s no longer right for you. Since you’ve abandoned or pushed away everyone else who cares about you, giving up on the relationship feels like giving up on life itself. Because without it, you’ve got nothing and no one else.
It erodes healthy boundaries. Setting limits allows you to protect yourself and prevents you from being violated emotionally or physically. Boundaries give you a sense of who you are and how you navigate the word. Codependency thrives by breaking down personal boundaries until you can no longer identify where you end and where your partner begins. You start to conflate love with letting your partner have unfettered access and control over your life so they can disrespect you, neglect you, and step all over your life without consequences.