Looking for how to stop being co-dependent?
Are you constantly prioritising your partner's needs above your own? Do you find your mood entirely dependent on how your partner feels? If these scenarios sound familiar, you might be in a co-dependent relationship.
These are common feelings that many individuals face, and it can be difficult to distinguish between whether you’re simply being selfless or completely losing your individuality. We are here to help you identify unhealthy codependency and work towards a healthier interdependency in your relationships.
Co-dependency vs. Interdependency
First things first, what exactly is co-dependency? In a nutshell, it's when one partner excessively relies on the other for emotional, psychological, or even physical needs, often neglecting their own. This can lead to a cycle where both partners feel unable to function independently.
Co-dependency is an imbalanced relationship dynamic that can contribute to depression or low self-esteem over time. For those struggling with co-dependency, it can be difficult to build healthy and mutually satisfying relationships.
A healthy, interdependent relationship has no power imbalance, where both partners have mutual respect for each other. You’re able to rely on your partner for mutual support but also still maintain your individuality and self-identity.
If you feel like you’re sitting more in a co-dependent relationship, here are tips to kickstart your journey towards healthier and more fulfilling interdependent relationships.
Guide To Recovery from Co-Dependency
1. Identify your attachment style
Attachment styles are developed during childhood and can have a huge influence on the ways we act and relate to others as adults. Many co-dependent people display insecure attachment styles, causing them to have a fear of abandonment.
To identify your attachment style, see our attachment style guide here.
By identifying your attachment style, you can become more aware of how and why you act in a certain way in relationships, and work to address unhealthy patterns of behaviour.
2. Improve Your Self-Esteem
Research suggests there may be a link between co-dependency and low self-esteem. If you struggle with self-worth, it can be difficult to advocate for your own needs and set boundaries.
If you can work on your self-esteem, your increased confidence will translate into self-reliance. Please remember you sometimes we do need to lean on others for support in life, but when you’re in a codependent relationship, that need and codependency is overwhelming and can be crippling.
You can build your self-esteem by challenging unkind thoughts, avoiding comparisons, trying new hobbies or self-care, or working through these issues with a therapist.
3. Reclaim Your Space
Remember the things you loved doing before your relationship? It's time to revisit them! Whether it's a hobby, a fitness routine, or just spending time with friends, reclaiming your space is essential. It's not about distancing yourself from your partner but about rediscovering your individuality.
Create a life outside of your relationship so that you can be more fulfilled within your relationships.
Open and honest communication with your partner about your feelings is key to working through issues. It's okay to express your need for space and independence. Most likely, you will find your partner is supportive and understanding, and helps you to meet your needs where possible.
5. Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries doesn't mean you're pushing your partner away; it means you're establishing respect for your individual needs. Discuss these boundaries with your partner and respect theirs too. It's about finding a balance that works for both of you.
Spend time considering you need to be healthy and happy in your life. Perhaps you need to dedicate time to yourself each day, or you need your family to call before they drop by your house? Voice your needs and make sure you and your time are respected and valued in all your relationships.
Communicate your boundaries in a firm and respectful way, and make sure you work to uphold them going forward.
6. Work with a Therapist
Co-dependent behaviours may have an underlying root cause embedded in past trauma or childhood experiences, or attachment styles. If you have been asking yourself ‘How do I stop being codependent’, it might be worthwhile seeking individual or couple's therapy.
A therapist can help you to understand the dynamics of your relationship, set boundaries, boost self-esteem, and improve your mental health so you can engage in more fulfilling relationships.
Seeking a balanced dynamic where both partners maintain their individuality is key to a fulfilling and healthy relationship. It strengthens the bond you share and fosters a deeper respect and understanding for each other.
If you're thinking, "This sounds great, but I need a little more guidance," consider booking into online or face-to-face therapy. It may be a helpful tool that can help you both navigate the complexities of your relationship in a supportive and safe environment.