When you feel deeply connected to someone, it can be difficult to recognize exactly what is a codependent relationship. Know the warning signs and what to watch for so you don’t get trapped in such a damaging and unhealthy relationship.
What Is a Codependent Relationship?
A codependent relationship is an unhealthy match between someone who is too focused on others and someone who is too controlling. In a codependent relationship, there is one person who is the caretaker and one person who is the taker. The caretaker is a person who will give up their own happiness, needs and goals to satisfy the other person. Oftentimes the caretaker feels as though he or she will do or put up with anything to hold on to the other person. The taker, on the other hand, is a person who feels the need to control another person. Takers usually have inner insecurities that make them worry things will fall apart if they do not control every aspect of their lives, including the person they’re with. Takers may go to extremes to get love, attention or approval from their significant other. This may involve using emotional manipulation, threats, violence or other domineering behaviors. When a taker meets a caretaker, the match forms an unhealthy dynamic.
What Are the Consequences of a Codependent Relationship?
For a caretaker, being in a codependent relationship usually means that he or she will end up sacrificing a great deal for the other person. Caretakers may feel proud to give up something important for their significant other at first, but over time the lack of inner satisfaction and fulfillment can lead to resentment and anger. Caretakers often neglect their own emotional needs as well as their life goals for the sake of meeting their partner’s demands. Takers may seem like they gain all of the benefit from a codependent relationship, but actually takers suffer from a lack of coping skills. A taker may never be able to cope with events in life that go awry, even though it’s normal to encounter struggles and for some things to be out of a person’s control. This results in increased anxiety, anger and even depression. Unfortunately, the taker may end up taking these unpleasant feelings out on their partner.
What Can I Do About My Codependent Relationship?
The first step in breaking the cycle of a codependent relationship is recognizing the problem; the next step is getting help. If you find yourself asking, “What is a codependent relationship?” you just may be mired in one. If you are constantly focusing on someone else’s happiness, if you have given up social relationships or aspirations for the sake of another person, if you are worried that the smallest detail will threaten your relationship or you feel someone is using emotional or physical coercion against you, you are indeed in a codependent relationship and it’s time to get help. Some people decide to make a clean break of the relationship while others prefer to go to couples counseling to work out the problems and hope for a future together. Whichever path you choose, make sure you are putting your health and safety first. Sources Federal Occupational Health. (2012). Are you in a codependent relationship? http://foh.psc.gov/eapnews/consortium/codependence.html Hope College. (2009). Signs of a Codependent Relationship. http://www.hope.edu/admin/hr/benefits/ads/eac/eacnews_spring09.pdf