Relationships are, by nature, somewhat codependent. When you enter into a relationship, you and your partner agree to support each other, love each other, and make compromises for each other. Codependence can be beautiful, but it can also be very complicated.
We have all “lost” friends to relationships that seem codependent. It's heartbreaking. Sometimes, we simply miss spending time with them, but other times, we see our friends become a different version of themselves due to their codependent relationship. Maybe they prioritize different things, stop talking to us, or lose interest in the things they used to love doing.
It's easy possible to “lose” yourself to a relationship. Love is intoxicating, but there is a fine line between true partnership and toxic codependency.
Here are some signs that your relationship is becoming way too codependent.
1. You Spend All Of Your Free Time As A Pair
While it is normal to spend a lot of your time with your SO, if you are no longer making time for family, friends, or most importantly, yourself, you might want to ask yourself if you are becoming too dependent in your relationship. While it's obviously great that you want to spend time with the person you are dating, if you are turning down invites to activities you used to love, consider whether you are becoming too reliant on your partner.
Licensed psychotherapist LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, author of Smart Relationships and founder of www.lovevictory.com says that codependents end up giving up on themselves and their interests to stay in a relationship that is actually bad for them.
She says codependents often suffer from “Death By 1,000 Accommodations.” If you are constantly rearranging your schedule to match that of your partner's, you're not taking care of yourself. You can both be in a relationship and maintain your independence, so be honest with yourself. Are you prioritizing the things you love?
If you aren't, bring it up to your partner and take note of how they react. Are they open to you doing your own thing? If they get defensive or avoid the discussion and you find yourself shutting down, Dr. Wish says that can be a sign you are in an unhealthy, codependent relationship. “[If your] discussions start out OK, but then, they end up with [you] being wrong — and wronged,” she explains.
2. You Make Excuses For Your Partner
If your friends are constantly saying "we miss you" and "where have you been?" they could just be greedy friends who want to spend all of the time with you, but more likely, they are noticing that something has shifted within you.
Pay attention to what those who love you are saying to you about your relationship. They love you, and they just want you to be happy. (Unless they are terrible friends.) If your response to these friends tends to be making an excuse for yourself and why you spend so much time with your partner, that's a major red flag. “In a healthy relationship, you don't make excuses to yourself or others about your partner,” says Dr. Wish.
Explaining why your partner wants to spend a night in with you is different than making excuses week after week as to why you can't meet up or do things outside of your partnership. You know what making an excuse feels like — it doesn't feel great.
If you notice yourself doing this, think about what you would say to a friend who was constantly excusing their partner. “You would want your best friend and loved ones to be in a good relationship,” says Dr. Wish. Treat yourself as you would treat a best friend.
3. You Don't Want To "Start Over"
Sometimes, people stay in relationships because they fear being alone. Other times, people stay in relationships because they have a two-year lease together. It's incredibly hard to separate from someone who you are reliant on financially. I know a couple who broke up but stayed in the same apartment for months because of their lease (terrible idea).
It's not only finances that can make you reliant on your partner. If you are relying on them for for a sense of emotional security, you are in a codependent relationship. If you don't feel comfortable or confident in your own skin without your partner around, pay attention.
Dr. Wish says that women stay in unhealthy codependent relationships because they don't think they will find anyone better. It's incredibly scary to imagine changing what's been a constant in your life, to separate from someone you have been with for a long time. But if you are staying in a relationship because you feel like no one else will love you or "put up with you," that's actually a surefire sign you need to be on your own for a bit.
At the end of the day, you should be with someone who loves you, cares for you, and also respects you as an independent person. That's who they fell in love with, after all.
If you notice any of these red flags, your relationship may be becoming too codependent. I'm not suggesting you breakup immediately, but I am suggesting that you try to spend more time on you and the things you like doing separately from your partner. See how that feels for you, and how your partner reacts. Explain to them that you love them very much, but you want to take a painting class on your own Wednesday evenings. Giving a relationship room to breathe will show you whether your codependency is healthy or not.
Be honest with yourself about the status of your relationship. It's hard work to break a codependent pattern, but it is worth it in the end. Pursue the life that you want.