Trying to explain co-dependency is a little more complex than a simple definition can offer. It is described as a heavy emotional or psychological dependence on your partner that starts off innocently but ends up disruptive and dysfunctional for both partners.
If a relationship is co-dependent, it is characterized by a heavy dose of clinginess by one partner or both, extreme reliance on your partner for a personal sense of fulfillment and a lack of self-sufficiency.
It starts off very innocently. Usually, one partner is prone to helping the other in many aspects of the relationship and often picks up the pieces, which subconsciously enables negative behavior.
The other partner is therefore encouraged to continue with their toxic patterns, which include immaturity, a lack of consideration and unreliability, without suffering any consequences for that unhealthy behavior.
Initially, it always begins with one partner trying to be supportive and simply there but with time it evolves into a constant responsibility for the other person’s well-being and life in general.
It might even feel rewarding in the beginning but with time, it starts disrupting the dynamic of the relationship.
Feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated and being trapped in this never-ending cycle of toxic behavior and enabling becomes too much to bear and it often erupts if not dealt with in time.
Breaking the pattern of co-dependent behavior in a relationship can be tricky and challenging and takes hard work and commitment to achieve but it is definitely possible and the end result will be well worth it.
Here are 4 steps to help you recover and break free from this toxic relationship behavior.
Examine your current relationship and compare it with your previous ones. Has this pattern of behavior been present before or are you just now realizing it?
What are the characteristics that you are seeing in this relationship and how can you help stop them? It can be hard accepting your role in the dysfunction of your relationship but it’s imperative if you want it to stop.
Know that being co-dependent does not mean there is anything wrong with you. It is merely an unhealthy pattern of behavior that can be improved with some introspection and perseverance.
2. Take some time to re-examine your intentions and habits
Taking a short break from the relationship might be just what you need to get in touch with your feelings again and reassess the situation. Don’t end the relationship, unless you really don’t see it going the distance.
In order to successfully end the co-dependent pattern, it’s important that both partners admit and accept their role in this and that they are willing to change for the sake of preserving the relationship.
Taking some time for yourself will help you focus on YOU and what you need and want out of this. It will give you a chance to distance yourself from your partner’s needs for once and dedicate solely to yourself.
3. Set clear boundaries
Setting boundaries often sounds like something that is between you and another person but in fact, it is for your own personal well-being.
Decide what you’re never going to condone again and stick to it. Set clear rules as to what you will no longer accept from your partner and never cross that line again. This is crucial for your own happiness in the relationship.
You will no longer let your own needs take a backseat in order to please someone else’s wishes and demands.
Communicate your needs but never change them to accommodate another person.
4. Don’t forget to love yourself
By reconnecting with your authentic self, you will find that amazing person inside you that you have been neglecting and grow to love her again.
The more you realize the importance of self-love, the easier it will be to remain confident and self-assured in what you will and will not tolerate when it comes to your romantic partner.
You will realize that your number one responsibility in life is to yourself and you will find yourself less annoyed at the actions of others. Your happiness will become your priority and you will find new joy and security in that.
Once you connect with yourself again, you will be able to break the pattern of co-dependency much more easily, as you will understand the dysfunction and disruption it brings.
As you radiate positivity, self-assurance and independence into the world, you will automatically attract new, healthy and positive people into your life and finally understand the difference between being supportive and enabling toxic, co-dependent behavior.