Written by Evi Idoghor
Codependency is a common problem in relationships, particularly romantic ones, that few people discuss. Relationships have been packaged in such a way that individuals believe that to be a full person, they must have a romantic partnership of some kind in their lives. As a result, people enter all kinds of arrangements and entanglements to satisfy their aching want to be with someone.
This is not to dismiss or trivialize the need for companionship in any way; however, the glamorization of romantic relationships over the years with romcoms and reality shows like the Bachelor has caused people to put their partners on pedestals, looking to them to fulfill certain functions that only God can fill. If you want your partner to complete you, make you feel good, be responsible for your happiness, always validate you, and so on, you are either developing a codependent mentality (if single) or are in a codependent relationship, both of which are toxic.
To begin, let's define a codependent relationship. A codependent relationship, according to webmd.com, is a pattern of conduct in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity. The concern in this definition is that the codependent partner is completely reliant on the other partner to supply all their needs (emotionally, psychologically, physically, and even spiritually), which is impossible for any person to achieve. The healthy partner eventually burns out because of the stress that the codependent person places on them.
Codependency doesn’t just affect one person in a relationship - both parties can be codependent with each other, in some circumstances creating a toxic environment in the relationship. In fact, there are three types of codependent relationships: one with one healthy partner and one with a codependent partner, one with both partners who are codependent (as mentioned above), and one with an enabler who manipulates the other person to become codependent just so they can feel good about themselves. If you are in the third situation, as a codependent, please flee from the enabler; you are treading on dangerous territory.
Codependency is a terrible place to be in one’s relationship because once the healthy partner quits meeting the demands of the codependent partner, they are unable to exist completely within the context of the relationship or even outside of it since they desire what the healthy partner offers to survive. Nobody should live like that. Nobody should be able to exert such influence over you.
How to fix codependency in relationships
The first step is to talk to your partner about how you're feeling and how it's affecting you as an individual. People may not understand they are draining you emotionally because of the traumas they must have suffered, so they cling to the you, the healthy partner in order not to lose you or feel the same pain that a relationship loss provided. So, communicating your feelings to this person is a great start. (In any relationship, communication is essential.)
Another thing you can do to enhance your relationship is to create healthy and realistic boundaries and keep to them. Let your partner know that this is how things will be, going forward if they desire a functional relationship with you.
You can also seek professional assistance. The codependent partner may be struggling with some emotional trauma and now regard you as their god, capable of rescuing them from the misery they have endured in the past. Speaking with a therapist who is well-versed in such matters might be really beneficial. Additionally, spend time with individuals who can provide you with a new perspective on what a healthy relationship should look like, and then apply their advice to your relationship where necessary.
Finally, if you've done everything you can and it's still not working, it's time to walk away. You are not that person's God; you are powerless to save them. Allow Jesus to intervene and solve any situation they are experiencing.
If you're in a codependent relationship (whether you're the dependent or the dependee), or the enabler who wants someone to be completely dependent on you - it's time to rethink things. Jesus is the one on whom we should entirely rely. He can satisfy all our desires according to His will. He is solely responsible for our joy, peace, healing, and whatever else we require. No single person can supply all your needs - one day, they will resent you for it.
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Images used in this article are courtesy of Unsplash