- Do you have a hard time saying no?
- Are you very attuned to other people’s feelings?
- Do you feel responsible for other people’s happiness and behavior?
- When asked “how are you?” do you typically answer with information about someone else?
- Are you worried that if you put your own needs first it will make you selfish?
You may feel like you’ve lost yourself in your relationship or that you are the one typically being relied upon while also feeling that others are not there for you.
Maybe you ignore your own needs to accommodate others to the point where you feel resentful or confused as to what your own needs even are.
You may have a hard time tolerating your loved one’s uncomfortable feelings or behaviors and may inadvertently use strategies like people pleasing or nagging to try to help them or the situation.
You may try to anticipate how other will feel so you can plan things perfectly or not share what your thoughts or feelings are to avoid conflict. Over time you may find that this often backfires and leads to further resentment and little change for everyone involved.
If this sounds like you, then you might be struggling with codependency.
Codependency is often discussed in the context of addiction because it describes the dynamic between an addict and a loved one who tries to help them, often enabling them or building up strong resentments. But codependency can occur in any type of relationship – between friends, romantic partners, siblings, parent and child – where one person feels they are solely responsible for another person’s happiness or emotional well-being.
In general, the term is now used to describe a situation where someone has difficulty setting or maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships to such an extreme that their own needs are neglected or the lose their own sense of self.
While it’s normal and healthy to want closeness, connection, and support in our relationships, codependency distorts our need for relationships into controlling, passive aggressive, or people pleasing behaviors.
Codependency is rooted in a lack of self-efficacy and authentic expression of your own needs and wants, rather than in a solid sense of community and compassion. When you don’t value yourself, you can end up catering to others at your own expense. This can lead to feelings of resentment, victimization, and even anxiety or depression. Hyper-focusing on how other people are doing, feeling, or thinking can leave you feeling drained, scattered, and stressed.
The good news is that, with the help of an experienced therapist, you can learn how to set and maintain healthy boundaries and understand your own needs. This can lead to more fulfilling, satisfying, and enjoyable relationships with less stress and drama.