While healthy relationships are dependent on love and emotional support, codependent relationships tend to be one-sided. It’s easy to gauge if you are codependent by analyzing the health of your relationships, and questioning whether or not your relationship is making you grow. If your relationship dynamics are skewed as shown below, you might be a codependent person.
A person with healthy self-esteem has a favorable opinion of themselves, and while they may have moments of doubt, they generally do feel good about themselves and their lives. A person with low self-esteem, on the other hand, continually sees themselves in a critical light. This makes it hard for them to face up to the challenges of life, because they don’t believe they have what it takes.
Codependency is rooted in a low opinion of yourself. It may not be evident to you that you have low self-esteem, because the overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt and inadequacy are easy to mask subconsciously. Sometimes you can hide those feelings under a veneer of perfectionism and not facing up to your weaknesses, until you are caught up in codependency.
You might get stuck in a relationship that is hurtful to you, imagining there is no one better out there for you. You might stay with friends that devalue you, because you live in fear of loneliness. There are many reasons codependents give as excuses for staying around people who don’t treat them right, but these explanations are all rooted in low self-esteem. It’s vital for a person with low self-esteem to manage themselves like they would their spouse or best friend. Give yourself a chance at a good relationship; the kind you’d love your best friend to have. This will allow you to change relationships rooted in your codependency.
You have poor boundaries
You find yourself continually caving into the demands of your friends or partner, and later feeling resentful about it. This doesn’t only hurt your integrity, but it’s also a very unproductive way to build relationships.
If you are always reacting instead of responding to your issues, you need to find the inner strength to say no. Ensure that you start meeting your needs and obeying your feelings first. Learn to develop a healthy skepticism concerning what people think or say about you so that you can take back the reigns of your responses. This, in essence, means an establishment of clear and healthy boundaries between what we can describe as your personal space or world and that of others. This encompasses your body, finances, spirituality, thoughts, needs or belongings.
You are constantly caretaking
Shawn M. Burn, author of Unhealthy Helping: A Psychological Guide to Overcoming Codependence, Enabling, and Other Dysfunctional Giving, says that codependents demonstrate their love by rescuing and enabling their partners’ problems, fostering an unhealthy dependence, immaturity, addiction or criminality.
While it’s natural to feel empathy for those we care about, a codependent will put the other person’s needs ahead of their own, and may in fact sense rejection if the person rejects their help. Even when it might be clear that their caretaking isn’t creating a solution, they will continue to do so, creating codependency that’s toxic and unhappy.
Caretaking is mostly found among people married to addicts or other damaged people, or those that do things their partners should do for themselves all in the name of love.
You have been in relationships deemed as abusive or over the line
Many codependents are in relationships with partners who don’t play fair, and often resort to manipulation to have their way. A codependent could be afraid or suspicious of their partner or may have partners that dictate to them what they should do, where they should go or not or even limit and curtail other relationships. A codependent in a relationship is at risk of getting hurt emotionally and/or physically.
Unfortunately, most codependents stay with unworthy partners due to their caretaking nature. They feel the need to help their abusers get better, though they do it in a very unhealthy manner. Unlike codependent relationships, healthy ones are built on communication, where conflicts are solved fast and without the use of control, anger or manipulation.