Being reliant on a partner for your happiness is unhealthy. Luckily, with hard work, you can learn how to overcome codependency and thrive on your own.
Learning how to overcome codependency starts with understanding the different ways we can be codependent. You can be emotionally codependent and need someone else’s happiness to feel happy. You can be codependent on someone else’s problems. Plus, you can be codependent in a relationship as a whole.
The issue with codependency is that it draws your happiness and feelings from an external source. Sure, our partners and jobs should make us happy, but they should not be the source of our contentment.
We should feel capable of functioning without that link to someone else.
How did you become codependent?
Most of us are not born with codependency issues. They can arise from our parents, loved ones, and most commonly, our romantic partners.
Codependency is often brought on by low self-esteem and a need for approval. But it can also be brought on by someone else’s influence on you. You can be codependent on your partner’s problems.
It is commonly seen that the partners of addicts are codependent. Their partner’s addiction defines their behaviors and happiness. In this case, codependence does not just plague your life but can cause you to enable your partner’s harmful behavior as well.
What led you to your reliance on others? When did this behavior first show itself? Was it one traumatic event or was there a pattern in your life that led to you being codependent?
Codependency can be seen as clinginess, jealousy, controlling behavior, resentment, and more. Codependency takes away your individuality and even your ability to function with emotional stability. That is why it is so important to learn how to overcome codependency.
How to overcome codependency
Overcoming codependency is a lot like overcoming trust issues. It is something that is deeply ingrained in your mind. You are hooked to this feeling and it is your norm, so fighting it can be difficult.
It can feel vulnerable and scary because taking the power over your emotions back puts more pressure on you, but less on your relationships which helps you heal.
There are a lot of steps you can take to overcome codependency and not all of them will work for everyone. But being able to take these steps and apply these things to your life will give you more strength and awareness of your own feelings leading you to become more self-reliant.
#1 Realize you’re codependent. Congratulations! You already did this one if you are reading this. Admitting that you are codependent or in a codependent relationship is the first step to overcoming it and is one of the hardest ones.
It is difficult to break the cycle you may have been stuck in for years. Learning how to identify the behavior that correlates to your codependency is vital to change it. Whenever you notice that you are letting your emotions be dictated by your partner, by the success of your relationship, or the like, you can alter that reaction.
#2 Know you cannot fix your partner. Those who are codependent often choose partners that they feel need them. You may be with someone you have to take care of physically or emotionally. You become a rock for your partner and constantly give without receiving what you need.
Once a relationship starts in on this routine, it is hard to break. You are constantly feeling down and drained because you are giving so much hoping for something in return, but are left empty. Accept that you cannot change your partner. Their behavior and treatment of you does not define you.
#3 Let go of control. The hard part about being codependent is that your feelings are being controlled by others but you desperately want control. You change your behavior by making excuses, keeping your mouth shut, and not speaking your truth to keep the peace. But that only clogs your emotions and leads to resentment and frustration.
#4 Be upfront. Being honest is the best way to overcome codependency. Telling your partner how you feel and how what they do makes you feel is the only way to work through this together. Come clean about how you feel without editing it down.
As someone with codependency, you don’t want to upset your partner because you feel that that reflects on you, but being brutally honest will help you rely on your own emotions.
#5 Release self hatred. Self-esteem issues lead us to crave attention and love from others. We qualify our success and self-worth through how others see us, or worse, how we think others see us.
If you can work on your confidence internally, you can let go of the need for acceptance from others.
#6 Fill your life with more. Codependency arises when we close ourselves off to the other important relationships in our lives. Since you started dating this person, have you drifted from friends and family? That can cause more of your happiness and self worth to be pulled from the person you are with most of the time.
Make time for the other people in your life. Go home and visit with family. Be sure to make plans with your friends you lost touch with. Find hobbies you enjoy or pick up the hobbies you let go of. Adding more to your life helps you live it more balanced. [Read: Madly in love? How to balance your life when you’ve fallen hard]
#7 Learn to say no. Those who are codependent aren’t just prone to enabling their partners’ poor behavior but are often martyrs. When you are codependent, you go above and beyond the norm. You go out of your way to say yes even when you don’t want to do something. So you please them, and that should please you, but often leaves you feeling empty.
Be bold and say ‘no’ more often. You don’t have to do the things your partner expects all the time just because they want it or are used to it. You are your own person and free to make your own choices.
#8 Know your worth. This step may be harder to accomplish and comes with time and practice, but it is very important. Once you can do this, you know you are excelling in overcoming your codependency. Demand the respect you deserve. Speak up for yourself.
#9 Enjoy your alone time. One big part of being codependent is having a fear of being alone. A lot can go into that, but practicing self-care when you are alone is vital. Take baby steps to get there.
Go to the movies alone. Go have lunch by yourself. Take a walk. And don’t think of alone time as being lonely. Think of it as sharing your own company.
#10 Go to therapy. There is no shame in asking for help. Codependency is a hard phenomenon to overcome at all, and even harder when you are going it alone. Find a therapist that will take that journey of self-growth with you. They will dissect what led you here and help you work your way forward as a stronger and more independent person.
Learning how to overcome codependency is not something that happens overnight, but with awareness, practice, and help, you can thrive on your own.