How To Know You are Codependent in Love - How To Win a Man's Heart

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February 26, 2015

How To Know You are Codependent in Love

# 1. Ask yourself the below 10 questions

Dr. Randi Gunther

When Melody Beattie first coined the expression “co-dependent” in her book, “Co-Dependent No more,” she clearly defined that behavior as being self-destructively attached in an overly-loyal, enabling relationship with an addict. More clearly stated, she described people (primarily female) who were dysfunctional in their attachment to partners who were dysfunctional in their attachment to their preferred drug.

The co-dependent woman tracked her man 24/7 in an attempt to be the person who was more important to him than his “destructive self-indulgence” and would save him from the demon who was destroying him. Because of the addictive triangle of victim/rescuer/persecutor, she would alternately be seen by him as the rescuer when he wanted off his drug and the nag/persecutor when he preferred it to their relationship.

The term has now been widely expanded. A co-dependent partner is still one who makes his or her significant other the center of the universe, doting, watching, controlling, indulging, and sacrificing, to the loss of personal integrity and often self-respect. Though these sacrificial, over-giving people’s intentions and desires are rarely meant to be harassing or invalidating, they often end up feeling responsible for their partner’s survival (usually without that person’s request or need sometimes with their resentment). They over-accommodate, over-indulge, over-forgive, and over-love. In short, they spoil a partner who is already more attached to something more important than they will ever be.

Other than the traditional love addicts attached to drug addicts, the people who often attract co-dependent partners are usually those who still live in relationship triangles, however with different points. They are often self-centered, self-promoting, and self-preserving people, who struggle with their success and seem to need a partner who will keep them on track without the concomitant power that is needed to make that possible. Those who want to “rescue” them from the situation, person, or substance that appears to be both attracting and destroying them, are willing to give up pretty much anything that matters to them if they are offered the job.

Once a co-dependent relationship starts with this kind of imbalance of devotion, it has very little chance of ever changing. Co-dependent people often tell me that they are caught between fear of abandoning their struggling partner and being remiss if they do not grant every need. Underneath, they are often terrified that all of their caring and support, at any minute, will be reduced to zero success, and that they will have failed in their attempts to “save” their partners. Along the way, they have usually given up what is important to them, put money in a psychological bank with a hole in the bottom, and trusted reciprocity-on-the-come that is never likely to happen.

So, are you co-dependent?

1. Are you attracted to partners who cannot fully reciprocate your love?

2. Do you believe that, if you just love your partner deeply enough, that he or she will eventually realize how important you are to them?

3. Do you willingly sacrifice your own needs to make your partner happy and feel grateful to have that opportunity?

4. Do you constantly make excuses for why your partner alternately accepts and then denies your influence?

5. Do you exaggerate your partner’s good qualities and consistently deny the ways he hurts you?

6. Does your partner keep telling you how important you are, but never listen to what you say or change his behavior?

7. Have you been in a series of relationships where you are not loved as much as you love?

8. Does your partner frequently resent your pushing him to change his behavior?

9. Do you feel abandoned and insecure when your partner chooses his other priorities over you?

10. Do you end up feeling “ripped off” at the end of your relationships?

These are just some of the questions that will help you define whether you create no-win relationships because you don’t make your partners earn your love and devotion and seem to not need anything until you are falling apart out of neglect. The lie about co-dependency is that your partner needs you as much as you need him. In reality, he can usually replace you much more easily than you can replace him.

Dr. Randi Gunther,

# 2. Are you willing to put up with almost anything to keep the relationship together?

Mara Fisher

Codependence is developed in childhood by how we perceive and receive love from our parents. When we come from dysfunctional homes as many people do; we are often given contradictory messages about love by our parents, such as: ‘I love you. Go away’, ‘you can’t do anything right. I need you,’ ‘I will be there for you—next time’. These messages will lead us to grow up yearning to be loved but having no healthy idea of what love looks like. Often we become givers in order to merge with another person whom we believe will give us love. This is how codependence begins.

Feelings of vulnerability are often present when we receive and one way to avoid them is to be nice and consistently be the giver. Many of us are uncomfortable with receiving, and quite comfortable with giving, as receiving taps into our own fears about being loved or unloved. Codependent personalities find it challenging to allow love in and so will become a giver for fear of feeling unloved. Giving is a way of creating the illusion of love and feeling love for the time you are giving.

Receiving requires a person to allow him/herself to be vulnerable. Many people are much more comfortable giving as it unconsciously creates a position of power.

One way to know if you are codependent in your relationship is to notice if you are willing to put up with almost anything to keep the relationship together. If this is true for you, chances are you are giving consistently and over time you may feel resentment and most certainly will feel unloved.There are Codependent Anonymous groups in all major cities that you can attend to learn more and understand yourself better. They are free.

Mara Fisher, L.C.S.W., M.C.C. –

# 3. Follow the 4 tips below

Deborah Cox

Overanalyzing comes from anxiety. In research terms, we call it Rumination, or dwelling on specific interactions and events that contain seeds of worry. Why is he acting this way? What does my bad feeling mean? Evidence suggests two things about rumination.

1. Some overthinking helps us make sense of important relationship dynamics, especially when we’re trying to learn and grow.

2. Excessive rumination relates to more severe distress.

What I see in many people who overanalyze their relationship dance is an anxious attachment style. That is, a woman’s way of coupling has a quality of desperation, negativity, and overwhelm to it. She obsesses over every expression or gesture in her partner. She finds all sorts of reasons it will never work out between them. She expects him to leave her.

This quality comes from long-ago trauma (think baby and toddler years) that disrupted her relationship with her parents. This is where we learn how to trust, love, and relax. And every kind of family trauma (e.g., natural disasters, divorce, financial stress) interrupts a child’s attachment process, even if her parents are otherwise perfect.

What to do? If you always fret and overthink each step in the dating process, you might have an anxious attachment style. Trauma therapy addresses early attachment – so I encourage you to explore EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) Therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

For now, try this mindfulness exercise for calming and redirecting your thoughts.

1. In your journal, list all the fears you have about the relationship. Worst-case scenarios: about you, about your partner, about what might happen, about what he/she is thinking.

2. Draw an elaborate box around those thoughts. Decorate the box with Zen doodling.

3. On the next page, make a list of your blessings. Include joyful moments from this relationship. See if you can list 50 things or more.

4. Take several deep breaths. Then practice shifting your attention back and forth between the pages. Notice any change in your body when you move from list to list. Breathe.

Dr. Deborah Cox –

# 4. Watch out for the below 8 red flags

Amanda Patterson

One of the ways I often describe codependency, especially to my clients, is through the usage of my hands. I will describe three types of relationships that there are, distant, interdependent and codependent. Distant is two fists far apart from each other. Interdependent is to hands supporting each other, with palms facing each other. For codependent, I use both hands holding into each other, fingers intertwined. The visual shows that there is little separation between the two hands. That is the defining factor of a codependent relationship, being unsure where one person begins and the other person ends.

There are some definite red flags that can signal codependent behaviors.

1. If you are putting the other person’s feelings ahead of your feelings on a regular basis.

2. If you do not express your needs and wants on a regular basis.

3. If you find yourself giving unsolicited feedback, even if it is amazing advice and feedback.

4. If you make decisions for the other person, without consulting them.

5. If your identity becomes surrounded around the other person.

6. If you stop taking care of yourself in order to take care of the other person.

7. If you are feeling pulled between your responsibilities and your relationship, and you pick your relationship.

8. If you find yourself doing things for the other person, only to please them and do what they want.

The list can go on and on but the bottom line is you are engaging in codependent behavior if you put the needs of someone else in front of your needs, especially when they are capable or should be capable of taking care of their needs.

If you are interested in learning more about codependency, I would recommend the book “Codependent No More” by Melodie Beattie. It is the premier book on codependency, how to spot it and what to do about it. It’s an excellent resource and a highly recommended read.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC –

# 5. Follow the exercise below


While you’re in a relationship, it’s a a good exercise every now and then to stop and sort of take inventory of the other areas of your life, outside of your relationship. If it helps, write it out and break it up into categories – health/self-care, friendships, family, work, finances, and whatever other categories make sense to you.

As you take a look at these different areas, observe which ones may be lacking attention.

Has your performance or focus at work been off lately?

Have you gotten feedback from friends or family that those relationships are being neglected?

Have you strayed from your normal health or exercise routine in order to make yourself more available to your partner?

Remember to remove guilt and self-judgment from this exercise as much as possible. It’s not about beating yourself up, it’s about simply noticing where there may lie some imbalances in your life, stemming from an overly demanding relationship. Once you’ve noticed what may be lacking in certain areas and what could improve, think about how to make those positive changes. Even just this exercise in redirecting your focus on your own life as an individual (as opposed to a member of a relationship) can help combat codependent behavior, because it helps you get back in touch with what brings you joy, keeps you healthy, and empowers you in life.

The more you build up these things, the harder it is for your relationship to hold a monopoly on your emotional state. I think many women have a hard time putting themselves first, because it feels unnatural and they believe it to be selfish. This is why really making it into a structured exercise to do periodically (like homework) is often necessary, at least until it becomes more second nature to check in with ourselves and adjust accordingly. I also want to remind women that most of us err on the side of dangerously selfless, so we have plenty of leeway to be a little “selfish.”

If you still can’t shake the belief that putting your health and needs first is selfish to your partner, I ask you to consider that it’s actually quite the opposite. People in relationships need boundaries. They need to know where your needs stop and theirs begin. They need to maintain a separate sense of self even in the most intimate relationship. This is true of parents and their children (this is why kids constantly test boundaries), it’s true of friends, and it’s true of romantic partners. If you just blend seamlessly into the other person, you both lose sight of your unique individualities, which is what made you fall in love in the first place!

Hadley Hill, MA, LPC –

# 6. Watch out for the 5 signs below


How often have you asked yourself why you become so dependent on your beaus, relying on them for many things and getting caught up in their complicated lives? How can you stop that pattern?

Sounds like the issue is really about self-esteem, autonomy and personal self-confidence. You are becoming co-dependent and that’s not a good place to be in your relationship or in your life.

Co-dependents often:
1. Lose themselves and become too enmeshed in the other person’s life
2. Are afraid of being alone
3. Look to the other person for gratification and confirmation
4. Have low self-esteem and therefore depend on others to affirm their value
5. Are skeptical and fearful of change

What you need to do is focus your attention on your own personal growth, interests and individual concerns. Ask yourself, “What do you need, what do you want, what do you deserve?” Allow your partner to do the same. This will nurture the development of a healthy, fulfilling and lasting relationship while creating a healthier, more satisfied YOU.

Your goal is to be an independent, free-thinker, a person who knows how to take care of herself, without questioning if she’s doing things right or doing things well. Your relationship is there to enhance what you already have and who you already are, and not make you into someone else to satisfy his needs. Keep in mind that you are very important in the relationship and are an equal partner, worthy of feeling special and valuable.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC –

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