In honor of Independence Day, I thought it would be good to take a look at codependence vs independence in relationships.
First, I think codependence often gets a bad rap and people often get a little defensive at the idea that codependence could be showing up in their relationship. Sometimes codependence is appropriate and even necessary. Take infants for example, they are fully dependent on the adults around them and the adults charged with their care need to work pretty hard to meet all of their needs. The trouble comes for many parents when their baby begins to grow and develop and need less or needs differently. The same is true of adult relationships. Very few individuals or relationships remain static over time which means how we relate to each other and the roles we each play need to change and be flexible in order to accommodate that growth.
The most succinct definition of codependence I have ever found is Beattie’s from “Codependent No More:”
“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
While this definition is far from perfect… it is a great start. Most people bristle at “obsessed” and immediately proclaim, “I’m not obsessed so this isn’t me!” Well…. What about the last time you had a crush on someone or you interviewed for a job you really wanted or thought someone you are close to was mad or upset with you? Did you find that your brain often started thinking (maybe even obsessing) in detail things you said/didn’t say, did/didn’t do even when you didn’t want your brain to go there? Anytime we feel overwhelmingly that we needa specific outcome, we are flirting with codependence. See how easy it is?
So how do you know when your relationship has veered into danger?
- When you aren’t aware that you are focused on your partner’s feelings
- When your partner’s feelings determine the outcome of a day or a situation
- When you the opinions and needs of other people who you are about and how care about you are totally disregarded for your partner’s
- When you feel like you have to be a certain way in order to please your partner or else you may lose their love or favor
- When you disregard your own needs and feelings to make your partner happy
- When you feel like you are regularly/consistently walking on eggshells with your partner
Of course, your partner’s opinion and feelings should be important to you and even a factor in big decisions you make for yourself. Your feelings and needs also be an important factor in how you make the same decisions.
Next time we will look at how to adjust in your relationship when you find that you have strayed from a healthier dynamic.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to live your best life, call me and let’s get started!