Healthy relationships consist of both parties giving and taking, whereas codependency is a toxic cycle of one person giving to feel needed. The other person is a taker and allows their partner to give without receiving anything in return.
If you are looking for a way to save your relationship, this guide may be just what you’ve been looking for. We will explain what a codependent relationship is, and how to overcome codependency.
What is codependency?
When one person sacrifices their own needs and wants in order to serve someone else, they are considered as codependent.
This is a cycle where the giver thinks that they are sacrificing their needs because someone else needs them to do so. They need to be needed.
Codependency within a romantic relationship whether you are dating, married, or anything in between, adds intensity to the situation because you are romantically involved.
We accept actions like codependency as normal behavior because we trick ourselves into thinking that we are doing it for someone that we care about. This also makes us think that they need us to continue acting this way.
Resolution Requires A Little Bit Of Soul Searching
Self-realization can be very trialing. Often it is not until you have a rude awakening, or get fed up with the way things are that you want to make a change.
If you are reading this article, now is the time to be completely open and honest with yourself as to what direction your focus has taken. Take a moment to ask yourself, “Does this describe myself in this relationship?”
This is not a time to blame yourself, but to simply acknowledge what you are willing to allow in your space. To recognize what you may not want to allow in the future.
Addiction and Codependency
Are we addicted to being needed? Do we toss our own needs aside because of our addiction to being needed?
Addiction does not always refer to a substance such as drugs or alcohol. It can also pertain to a brain disorder that makes us compulsively repeat actions because of the reward or the emotion and stimuli attached to it.
Codependency and our addiction to it are tough realities to face. It can be damaging to both sides. So whether you are the giver or the taker and you want to heal together, it is important to see it for what it really is. Some common indicators are:
- Feeling desperate to please.
- Obsession with the idea of giving or pleasing.
- Never having space. A need to be together all the time.
- Feeling stuck in a dramatic and controlling relationship. (This can apply to both people.)
If any of these scenarios fits you, it could be a sign you are in a toxic relationship. You may have never given it a second thought due to the cycle of codependency keeping you engaged.
What is a toxic relationship and how do we recognize that we are in one?
How To Overcome Codependency in A Toxic Relationship
Being in a toxic relationship basically means that it is unhealthy and is not an equal partnership that is nourishing to those that are in it.
One tell-all sign that a relationship is toxic is that it is all “take”, and no “give”.
When you sacrifices your needs in order to give to your partner, it gives the sense you are sacrificing for the sake of your relationship, but there is no balance, leaving you feeling unappreciated and most often, exhausted.
Often, we will not recognize it ourselves. We are not always honest with ourselves when we are in an unhealthy situation, especially if we are emotionally invested. This can pertain to friends, lovers, children, and parents. No relationship is exempt. We must be diligent in self care and recognizing what truly hurts us is key.
Breaking Up With Codependency
Codependency is a dangerous habit to hold on to. When we realize that we are stuck in a cycle of unhealthy behaviors we can start to address them and find the appropriate treatment to help guide our mental health. This is necessary. Not only in this last attempt to save our relationship, but more importantly in saving ourselves from certain dysfunction.
Now this is much easier said than done. As a guide to a healthier you, here are some effective tips to start your journey.
- The first and possibly most important step is recognizing and acknowledging there is some sort of problem. Codependency will not go away on its own. It is usually linked to a root problem either on the giver’s side or with both partners. Of course, you can break up, but it will not resolve the underlying issue.
Since the issue will not go away if the relationship ends, it only has left to repeat itself in future relationships. This will continue until the giver starts to set healthier boundaries.
- Therapy can play a major supporting role in healing from the root problem to codependency. Talking to a professional that is trained to help people with relationship issues and issues from the past is just a phone call away. Some popular and proven therapies include:
Talk therapies (psychotherapy) are a gentle yet effective and thorough way to treat trauma and the disorders they have created in our lives. One way to treat codependency is with EDMR.
EDMR stands for Eye Desensitization and Reprocessing. In this therapy, you will talk about and confront repressed memories and images , working through them side-by-side with your therapist..
A professional breaks this therapy down into phases. Depending on the unique situations, breakthroughs may take several sessions.
Does EDMR Work In One Session?
EDMR does not work in one session for anyone. Yet, codependency will not be cured with one session of any therapy and that should be acknowledged before starting. This takes time, but the time is well spent and rewarded in the end.
Multi-session treatments are especially true for codependency that has been formed from a past traumatic experience.
Does EDMR work for codependency if it is rooted in trauma?
Yes, EDMR does work for those that have been through traumatic experiences. The therapist will take sessions as slowly and gently as needed to work through serious trauma. This type of therapy is becoming more and more sought after as mental health stigmas degrade.
Group or Couples Therapy
Many people choose to seek treatment for their codependency through individual sessions. Yet, going as a couple can prove to be very beneficial. This route is for those of us who choose to repair and heal together. This is not for everyone and that is OK.
Couples therapy will help both partners understand the cycle of codependency, ensuring there is no blame game. This can be very effective if both people are ready and willing to do the work and change together.
Other therapies to address codependency.
The most effective types of therapy focus on behaviors and changing them in a positive way.
Talk to a professional about your options for counseling now that you know you are serious about taking control. Whether you decide to move forward together or not you will gain from learning insight.
In the interim, you can help yourself by:
- Being mindful of your situation and your actions. Ask yourself why you respond with no reciprocation?
- Be kind to yourself. Remember you’re doing the best you can.
- Stay calm and focused. Meditation and mindful breathing will send your brain the oxygen it needs to think clearly.
- Surround yourself with people who bring value to your life.
Establishing Healthy and Realistic Boundaries
The main component, or lack thereof, codependency thrives on is boundaries. When we do not have healthy boundaries set in place to show others our limits, these lines are often crossed putting you in an uncomfortable place. These limits are set in place to protect your mental and physical health, and are a key aspect in healthy relationships.
Boundaries are not set to hurt other people. It will stop them from taking advantage of you. If it seems hurtful to them, you can consider this a red flag. In honor of the old age phrase, “Treat others as you want to be treated”, respecting these boundaries will set the foundation of your relationship.
Taking a Break
While a person is going through therapy to treat their codependency, they may find it helpful to take a break from their relationship or partner. Healing from trauma looks different for everyone and may need to be done on your own.
This does not mean get a divorce if you are married or make any serious decisions at this time. A break simply gives you the distance between the situation that you are trying to work through.
A break can give you a different point of view on your behavior and the workings of your relationship to see things more clearly. Taking a break can, in itself, help to break the cycle of codependency.
Happiness Comes From Within
Helping others is a great way to bring satisfaction and happiness to our lives, as well as theirs. It is when we begin to neglect ourselves and our needs that it crosses a boundary from helping them to hurting ourselves. This becomes a very unhealthy form of bringing happiness to our lives.
When we possess internal happiness, we signal self-respect to show others the respect we expect to be shown.
Internal happiness is a journey. It might include finding a new purpose in life, having a positive attitude, or creating space in your day to focus on yourself and your growth. It doesn’t matter. It only needs to make you happy.
Understand That Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
One symptom of codependency is needing to be such a big part of someone else’s life. Feeling the need to be around someone so much gives you no time to miss them.
Even if we are not around that person 100% of the time, we spend most of our time and energy thinking about them or doing stuff for them.
This is not loving, this is an obsession. And, it shows that we are addicted to the feeling that we get from them needing us, or needing us to do things for them.
Having your boundaries in place and breaking the cycle of constantly being connected with your partner will prove that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This in turn can actually strengthen your relationship and expand your love for one another.
Do Not Take it Personally
When your partner begins to break away from the cycle of codependency and starts to do the things on their own that you once did for them, do not take it personally or get upset.
They do still need you as a partner. We can learn to do things on our own and learning helps us to grow.
Look at it as them growing. Be proud of them, and happy for them instead of thinking that they no longer need you.
On the flip side, if you are the codependent, try to give yourself a break. Enjoy your time, practicing self care while resting your mind. Treat yourself to pleasing you!
Focus On Yourself
Curing codependency includes shifting the focus from your partner to yourself. It will take effort and time to learn how to focus on yourself, but you will feel much better when you do.
Instead of depending on other people to make you feel wanted, needed, and validated, you will soon start to….
For many people, a codependent relationship is not their first experience with displaying codependency. This may be a lifelong characteristic.
Many people struggle with this because as a child they acted this way with their parents or sibling, receiving good or bad reinforcements. Others may be insecure or have over their lifetime, been neglected emotionally. Feeling the need to be needed comes in many forms, all equally valid and deserving to resolve.
Developing Your Own Hobbies
In giving so much to another person we can lose sight of what our own interests are. What are some hobbies that you once had but have stopped taking part in?
It is time to get back in touch with things that interest you and bring enrichment and fulfillment to your life.
Optimal Relationship Health
What does a healthy relationship look like from this point forward? And, how often does a relationship survive going from codependency to healing and healthy workings?
The answer to this is different for everyone.
Going through extreme changes personally will always have an effect on a relationship. This is especially true for something like codependency, that is changing the person but also directly affecting the dynamics in the relationship.
In the end, you will both know your own limits as well as your partners and will hopefully choose to respect them equally. In the event you choose to go your different ways you will have learned more about yourself and what you need in this life.
Learn To Be Happy By Yourself
Another reason that we might cling to our codependency as tightly as we do is that we are uncomfortable with the idea of being by ourselves or being alone.
We might feel that constantly giving to someone will keep them needing us. We keep them around so that we do not have to sustain the feel of being lonely.
So here’s something to challenge you….
Something you may not have thought about in a while is what your needs and wants are. Close your eyes and really think about that for a minute.
Now go fulfill them. No excuses. Just go do it. You deserve it and you are worth it.
Saving Your Relationship
For a relationship to go from unhealthy to healthy and survive it takes dedication and effort from both partners. It also takes honesty and willingness to admit where there were previous faults.
Codependency is a toxic relationship trait. Once we move away from things that were toxic to us we can begin to heal. So is it possible to salvage this wreck we’ve created?
Of course. There is always room for true love.
You Can Learn How to Overcome Codependency
You may feel stuck in your current situation, but with this knowledge, you can find help and save your relationship or move forward however suits you best. Reach out to the professionals at Makin Wellness to talk to someone about options for therapy or to set up a virtual appointment.