There’s no doubt that love feels good. Most of us desire companionship and commitment and unconditional support from someone else. We love the feeling of falling in love, although it can be as enticing as it is frightening. When we’re in a healthy dynamic with someone, we can learn, grow, and become a better person as a result of the relationship. Codependency relationships, however, have a dark underside that stunts learning and growth.
Codependency can create a sense of imbalance, a layer of toxicity, a feeling of suffocation. It enables ineffective boundaries and festers on manipulation and control. It’s imbalanced, and it can cause damaging effects to both parties.
Let’s examine the warning signs.
1. INEFFECTIVE OR DYSFUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION
Do you say what you mean, and do you mean what you say? Do you feel safe and comfortable telling your partner what you want and need? If not, you could be in a codependency relationship. In such a relationship, it’s difficult to practice honest and assertive communication.
Ineffective communication might look like the constant feeling of walking on eggshells. It might mean resorting aggression or shouting to feel heard. One or both parties may use manipulation tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or passive-aggression to communicate.
This volatile communication can trigger resentment and confusion among both partners, as it makes it hard for each person to respect one another. Long-term, this can evoke major complications like the betrayal of trust and chronic lying.
2. NEED FOR POWER AND CONTROL
In healthy relationships, both partners trust each other freely and mutually. While there might be intermittent moments of insecurity and fear, they are not the normal status quo.
Codependency relationships thrive on power and control because one or both partners struggle from low self-esteem. Thus, there is often a pervasive sense of neediness and clinginess to the other person. Those feelings can perpetuate a vicious cycle of jealousy and controlling behavior.
This behavior can be subtle or obvious, and it often starts out “innocently.” It can start with complaints or protests to spend more time together. It can look like requests to “stop” hanging out with other people. Over time, it can turn into more destructive patterns of emotional abuse or even physical violence.
This need for power and control makes it challenging- if not impossible- to trust the other person. Even if someone hasn’t done anything wrong, one partner may have constant anticipation and fear of getting hurt. This thought pattern often causes dangerous cycles of behavior- all of which impact the level of respect within the relationship.
3. LACK OF INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY
While it may seem romantic to meld to another person, this glue-like attachment is often indicative of codependence. Why? Because we are all individuals, and we all have individual needs, desires, and lives outside of our relationships.
If you don’t know your own hobbies or interests, if you don’t have quality friendships outside of your partner, if you spend every waking moment together, you don’t reap the benefits of cultivating a unique sense of self. You don’t attune yourself to your needs. Not only can this become unattractive to your partner, but it can leave you with an incredible sense of hollowness if the relationship falters.
Individual identity exhibits confidence and self-respect. And while other people can and should add to your quality of life, they should not be the sole determining factor.
4. SUBSTANCE USE OR OTHER COMPULSIVE AND ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR
Relationships with active addiction can be incredibly tumultuous and volatile. Whether it’s one or both partners struggling with addiction, the erratic and toxic behavior naturally spills into the core of the relationship.
When left untreated, addiction progresses into serious, chronic illness. It ravages both the individual and the surrounding loved ones. It steals and lies and manipulates, and it can seriously wreck relationships.
Healthy partners choose addiction recovery, and they choose to support loved ones entering recovery. They value learning a new way of living and a healthier way of coping with stress. They embrace identifying and facing problems- rather than avoiding, suppressing, or numbing them.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON CODEPENDENCY RELATIONSHIPS
Relationships can be incredibly healing- or incredibly detrimental. They can help us become the best versions of ourselves, or they can be the culprit of horrific emotional decompensation.
Are you or a loved one struggling with codependency? Healing and recovery are both possible. Within a safe and supportive luxury rehab, you can learn to restore your self-esteem and improve your relationships. Learn more about our dynamic codependency relationships treatment approach today!