Are You Co-Dependent in Your Relationship?

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Co-dependency is a word we hear thrown around a lot. The question is, how do we know if we are being co-dependent in a relationship? Let’s look at some indications that can prove to us that we are co-dependent in the relationship. Once we can identify that we are co-dependent, learn what we can do about it. 

The first indication that you are co-dependent in the relationship is that there seems to be no room in the relationship for your emotions, feelings, and needs. A relationship should be a two-way street. The relationships should be about both people’s emotions, feelings, and needs.

When we are in a co-dependent role, we become caretakers of the other person. We are taking care of them, providing for them, being there for their needs, and listening to their stories. When we try to talk about ourselves, there isn’t any time for it. There is no time for taking care of ourselves. It does not seem as though the other person cares about our needs. They are focused on their feelings and thoughts.  

A second indication that you are in the role of co-dependent is when you try to build the other person up all the time and make them feel better about themselves. It never seems like there is any form of reciprocity. They do not pat us on the back or build us up. This can be exhausting. You can only build someone up so much until they must take over and start taking care of themselves.

When we try to build someone up who does not believe in themselves, it is almost impossible. We are taking away what the person needs to be doing for themselves and we are trying to do it for them. It can seem overwhelming. We are constantly trying to build them up, but it seems as though they are never happy. We need to realize that to fill a void in our lives, we must be able to fill that void ourselves. No one can make someone else happy. 

Another indication that we find ourselves in the role of the co-dependent is that we find ourselves doing other things for someone else who can be doing these things for themselves. When we start taking over and doing things for them, we are doing the things that they need to be doing for themselves. 

There are two problems with this. First, the person needs to step up to the plate and do these responsibilities for themselves to make themselves feel better to bring more self-esteem for themselves. Sometimes we must allow people to be upset or angry that they have not done things and get over that hump to start doing things for themselves.

Second, when we do things for them instead of letting them do it for themselves, we are enabling them. We may have to go through some pain and suffering listening to what they have not done. Eventually, they are going to have to do the things for themselves. 

We are in the co-dependent role when they blame us for things that have happened to them in their life that we are not responsible for. Also, when they get upset with us for disappointments and things that they’re unhappy about in their life. This is an important aspect to think about. When we are in a co-dependent role, we do not realize it while it is happening. When the other person is projecting on us, we start believing that we are the reason or the cause of the things that we are blamed for.

We need to realize what the other person is responsible for. We also need to realize what we are to blame for and what we are not to blame for. When we take blame we are allowing for the reality to come true. It is not ours to take, but we are accepting it which means in the future they will continue to blame and find fault with us. We have taken it in the past and because of this, they do not have to take responsibility for their problems.

The last example we are going to discuss is the concept that we will take mental and emotional abuse in a relationship when we are in a co-dependent role. While the other person is piling things up on us, blaming and projecting on us, as co-dependent our first response is, “What can I do to make things better?” Instead of stepping back and thinking hold on this is not my responsibility or that they or projecting on us, we want to jump in and fix the problem. We need to realize what we are responsible for and what are we not responsible for.

We need to separate ourselves from them and see ourselves as an individual as well as see them as an individual. It is important to see that just because we want to keep the relationship together does not necessarily mean that they do. We cannot keep the relationship together for both people. 

We have to decide what we are willing to deal with. There are parts of the relationship that we want to be helpful with. We want to be caring and supportive, but supportive and caring is not co-dependency. Remember co-dependency is taking over, doing things for them that they can do for themselves, and making excuses for the other person repeatedly. These are the components of co-dependency. When we do this, it is the perfect storm for a problematic situation because we are allowing the other person to not take responsibility for themselves. As a result, we put ourselves on the back burner to take care of their life and lose our identity in the process. 

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