“The possibility of losing her fills me with dread. I can’t imagine my life without her being here.”
“I don’t know what I would do without him. My world would fall apart. I’d be lost.”
Do those sentiments sound familiar?
Have you ever had fears of being alone? Do you yearn so deeply for the love and attention from another person that you can’t imagine being without them? Are you making extreme sacrifices just to keep this relationship, but you don’t get much in return?
You’re not alone.
As humans, relationships are, in general, what we most care about in our lives. Relationships can give us great joy. They help us to learn about ourselves and give us opportunities to grow… if they function correctly.
Because relationships can also bring us our biggest challenges, a one-sided pattern, in which you make another person your sole source of love and happiness is dysfunctional. It is an unhealthy codependent relationship.
The thing is, most people don’t realize they’re enacting codependent patterns in their relationships. Why? Because codependency often looks like intense love. But the fact is that needing another person this much usually stems from fear, not from love.
So, how can you tell if you are codependent?
9 Symptoms of Codependency
1. Feeling Unlovable and Inadequate
You feel ashamed or not good enough when comparing yourself to others. Or you go to the other extreme and think too highly of yourself. But that is most often just a disguise. You may also exhibit perfectionism to counteract your low self-esteem and guilt.
2. Trouble Communicating Honestly
You don’t know how to convey your thoughts, feelings, and needs. Not wanting to upset another person, you’re usually afraid to be truthful. Instead of saying you don’t like something, you may just pretend to be okay with it.
3. Depending on Others
You’re always afraid of being rejected or abandoned. In order to not feel lonely, you must be in a relationship all the time, even if it’s painful or abusive. Your need to be liked by others to feel okay about yourself overwrites any reason.
4. Having Vague Boundaries
Either you have loose boundaries – constantly feeling responsible for other people’s emotions and problems – or very rigid ones – closing yourself off and withdrawing from others. At times you may even flip-flop between the two extremes.
5. Denying Your Needs and Feelings
You doggedly deny your need for love and intimacy. Instead of paying attention to your own needs and feelings, you focus on those of other people. Sometimes you may come off as needy – constantly needing help – or you may act self-sufficient – not reaching out for any help at all.
6. Always Pleasing Others
You often go out of your way to accommodate others, because you have a hard time saying “no.” Saying “no” actually causes you anxiety. Therefore, you end up feeling like you don’t have any choice but to please.
7. Needing to Take Care of Others
Your need to help others often gets to a point where you completely give up yourself. You keep trying to help and fix the problem, even if the other person clearly doesn’t take your advice or want your help. And then you end up feeling rejected.
8. Controlling and Manipulating
Because you need others to behave in certain ways, you try to control how things unfold. You may manipulate them through people pleasing, care-taking, or even being bossy. However, this need for control limits your ability to widen out and share your feelings.
9. Experiencing Painful Emotions
You’re often stressed and anxious about being judged, rejected, or abandoned, or about making mistakes or being a failure. That, in turn, leads you to anger, resentment, hopelessness, despair, and even depression.