so media, and indeed society in general, has this horrible habit of glorifying and romanticizing codependent relationships. i really want people to be educated about them and why they’re unhealthy, so i’d appreciate if everyone could help me spread this around! feel free to add anything in the comments you think i’ve overlooked.
what is a codependent relationship?
a codependent relationship is one where the parties involved are unhealthily dependent on one another. it does not have to be a romantic relationship, but can be platonic, familial, etc. it will usually posses one or more of the following traits:
- one or both people feeling incapable of handling the world without the other
- one or both people feeling as if you are incomplete are unwhole without the other
- one or both allowing one to have an inordinate amount of control in the other’s life; living in a way to please them; significantly altering one’s self or behavior to meet the other’s standards
- one or both prioritizing the other’s needs and wants above one’s own
- one or both having an unwillingness to go about life without the other
why is this bad?
besides the blatantly obvious reasons, here are some of the negative impacts/possible if not likely outcomes of a codependent relationship:
- inability to cope or go about daily life without the support of the other
- increased anxiety/depression/hyperactivity/indecisiveness without the other
- increased jealousy/over-protectiveness
- falling apart of outside relationships due to prioritization of one (loss of friends basically)
- emotional and/or physical isolation from everyone besides the other
- loss of individuality and control over one’s life
- suffering of one’s individual education/career
- refusal of separation when the relationship turns abusive
- loss of free time
- unhealthy obsession with the other
- increased responsibility of carrying the entire emotional burden of another person
some of the effects of a breakup from a codependent relationship:
- bouts of depression/anxiety
- suicide/self-harm/addiction/binge eating/other self-destructive tendencies
- worsening of effects of pre-existing mental illness
- inability to reconnect with other people
- loss of direction in life
- a WHOLE wealth of other problems that would not fit in this list honestly
a common misconception is that intensely attached relationships like these are beneficial for people with mental illnesses because of the extra support given, when in fact it will often exacerbate the symptoms over time as the individual loses the ability to cope on their own and prioritize the other person above their own well-being.
there are varying degrees of severity of codependency, but that does not mean that ones that are lesser are not still unhealthy.
steps you can take to prevent codependency in a relationship if you are concerned:
- discuss boundaries. lay out with your partner a basis (or schedule if need be) on which to spend time with one another that does not cause your other relationships, career/education, and personal time to suffer severely.
- make room for personal time with friends, without the other person. maintain your outside relationships. if you ignore them for the sake of your partner, you’ll slowly lose them, and won’t have anyone else by the time the relationship has run its course. this will also ensure that you can maintain individual relationships with others on your own without the influence of your partner. (also, anyone would be able to tell you that trying to spend time with two people that are attached at the hip is very uncomfortable, and oftentimes devaluating)
- find other emotional outlets and support than just the one person. find friends who can help you with your problems too, so the entire weight of them is not put on your partner and you have somewhere to go for help and support if you lose them.
- take a time-out. spend a couple of weeks to a month apart, not spending extensive time together. while this may seem daunting, it will help you reassert authority over your own life and readjust to not being dependent on them. this also gives you and your partner time to take a breather and reflect if things are getting intense.
- break it off altogether. this can be a terrifying, if not unthinkable, prospect. but if you cannot be together and maintain your own lives and personal agency despite your best efforts, then you need to call it quits, no ifs ands or buts.
you, your sense of self, and your ability to go about life without leaning completely on another person is more important than any relationship could ever be. it is not romantic or even CLOSE to ideal to unable to be away or without another person, no matter what any show, book, or movie says. this does not mean you are alone or that other people don’t matter, but that what matters most is you. feel free to love a person with all you have, but don’t let that be ALL you have.
now go out and form some healthy relationships, okay?