While it is a sign of a healthy relationship to allow your partner to support you physically, mentally, and emotionally, the tide quickly turns unhealthy when we disconnect from our own ability to support ourselves and struggle at overcoming codependency.
A codependent relationship signifies unhealthy neediness and clinginess.
For a love bond to survive and thrive it is crucial to change a codependent relationship, stop subverting your own needs and sense of self-worth, and get back on an even keel with your partner.
For the same patterns that foster attachment and connectivity, when exaggerated, also lead us to being emotionally hostage within our relationship.
That’s when one starts seeking help for codependency in a relationship, and breaking the cycle of a codependent relationship.
We are left grappling with the questions, “how to overcome codependency?”, looking for different avenues that offer codependency help, so we can change a codependent relationship and not lose sight of ourselves.
In the process of blending two lives, there are spoken and unspoken agreements of how this plays out, and before you know it, it may seem more like one life being supported by two people.
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If you’ve found yourself in these patterns of codependency, here are ten ways to re-establish healthy boundaries and fix a codependent relationship.
10 tips for overcoming codependency in relationships
1. Question your intentions
Within codependency patterns, it is often the case that we have lost our way in decision making within the relationship. Ask yourself if your intentions are more for your benefit or your partner’s.
When we find ourselves constantly putting our partner’s wants and needs ahead of our own, we become more prone to neglecting ourselves and building resentment towards our partner.
Understanding the intention behind our behaviors allows us a chance to act from a place of empowerment, rather than react to the perceived feelings of our partner.
2. Learn to identify your own feelings
One of the most common dynamics within codependency is over-identifying with the feelings of our partner, and under-identifying with our own feelings. Feelings provide a wealth of information and guidance.
So, if we constantly pay more attention to the feelings of our partner, we more than likely are acting in a manner more serving and attentive to them, regardless of our own emotions.
The more we can identify our own feelings, the more we can begin to attend to our own needs and fix a codependent relationship.
3. Practice spending time alone
Codependency patterns begin to develop when we start to use other people as a way to manage our own discomfort and emotions.
Not only do we need quiet time and space to identify our emotions, but time spent alone is also necessary in developing trust that we can take care of ourselves and our emotions.
Just like any relationship, trust is built over time, and our relationship with ourselves is no different. Give yourself time to get to know yourself outside of your relationship.
4. Lean into the discomfort
As humans, we are hard-wired to avoid pain and discomfort, which also leads us into fairly creative escape patterns.
But while humans are designed to avoid pain, the human experience is programmed to include it.
When it comes to codependency, we can attempt to control our own experience, avoiding the awkward and uncomfortable, by overly focusing on and caring for our partner.
The old adage, “if you’re okay, I’m okay.”
Until we learn that we have the capacity and capability to manage the uncomfortable, we will continue to find ourselves in these patterns of avoidance.
5. Practice making decisions
When we lose pieces of ourselves in a relationship, we also lose our ability to voice our wants and needs.
Allow yourself a chance to practice making decisions.
Name the restaurant you want to go to for dinner.
Say “no” to the latest invitation.
In giving yourself a chance to make such decisions, you’ll gain more awareness of yourself, and more confidence in your ability to use your voice.
6. Allow space for confrontation
Within patterns of codependency, there is a theme of compliance to avoid confrontation. We can become overly agreeable to the thoughts of our partner to keep from entering a disagreement that may be uncomfortable.
Not only can this be unhealthy, it can be incredibly unrealistic.
In two people coming together in a relationship, there are bound to be differences in opinions.
Giving yourself permission to disagree provides you an opportunity to let your partner know you, and provides your relationship an opportunity to learn how to communicate.
Confrontation, while perhaps unpleasant, is an important aspect of keeping relationships healthy.
7. Ask for help
While patterns of codependency can often look like an over-reliance on others, it is rare to hear assertive requests for support.
In order to break this passive communication pattern that fuels codependency, we must first practice asking for help.
Start off as small as you may need, perhaps asking your loved one to pass you a tissue, in order to develop a habit of openly letting requests for support be heard.
8. Learn to say “No”
Fear of rejection is one of the most prevalent fears underlying patterns of codependency.
In fearing rejection in a codependent relationship, we can develop a narrative that we must play a certain role in order to hold value within a relationship. This keeps us in a pattern of saying, “yes,” in order to maintain that role, regardless of our own needs.
If it is hard to say, “no,” within a relationship, then a “yes,” will always be undermined.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Laura Galinis, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia, with a private practice in Downtown Roswell. Laura specializes in trauma and attachment wounds that drive acts of impulsivity and addiction. Lauras therapeutic work is holistically focused with the goal of helping clients stay present and healthy in their bodies and in their relationships. Laura works with adolescents, adults, and couples working to foster healthy living and relational patterns that meet the health goals of the client. Laura has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Florida and a Master's Degree from the University of Memphis.
(Laura Galinis is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Roswell)