Written by Evi Idoghor
Codependency is a prevalent condition in romantic relationships that few people discuss. Relationships have been packaged in such a way that people believe that to be a whole person, they must have some form of romantic partnership in their lives. As such, people fall into various arrangements and entanglements to satisfy their yearning desire to be with someone.
This is not to dismiss or trivialize the need for companionship; however, the glamorization of romantic relationships over the years with romcoms and reality tv shows like the Bachelor and Love is Blind has caused people to put their partners on pedestals; looking to them to fulfill functions that only God can. If you expect 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 or are already codependent.
Codependency is something I have experienced in relationships. When I was dating in my 20s, my life was always wrapped around my partners; if my partner was happy, I was overjoyed, if he was sad, my entire week was ruined. You know how easy it is to get your life entwined with someone new when you meet them and start dating them. Thus, you desire to spend every waking moment with them, putting aside everything else you were previously enthusiastic about. Then you start to feel they are your end all and be all which is not a good place to be in. It required a bad break up, a lot of introspection and adjustments for me to become my own person in relationships.
What is a codependent relationship?
A codependent relationship, as defined by 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 problem with this is that the codependent partner is fully reliant on the other partner to supply all of their needs (emotionally, psychologically, physically, and even spiritually), which is impossible for anybody to do. After all, it was Paul, who said in Philippians 4:13, "and my God shall supply all your needs...," not a romantic partner or even a spouse.
Once the healthy partner stops meeting the demands of the codependent partner, the codependent partner is unable to exist completely within the context of the relationship or even outside of it. They become a shell of themselves because they need what the healthy partner provides to survive. Nobody should live in such a way and nobody should be able to wield such power over another.
How to manage codependency in relationships
The first step is to discuss your feelings with your partner and how they are affecting you as an individual. People may not realize they are draining you emotionally because of the traumas they carry. So, they cling to you (the healthy partner) to avoid losing you or experience the same grief that a relationship loss provided. So, communicating your feelings to this person is a good place to start.
Another way you can improve your relationship is to establish and maintain healthy and realistic boundaries. You can also seek expert help. Speaking with a therapist who is knowledgeable about such issues could be really beneficial. Also, spend time with people who can give you a fresh perspective on what a healthy relationship should look like, and then apply their advice to your relationship as needed.
If you identified with some of the traits of codependency mentioned, then it's time to make some adjustments. Place your complete trust in Jesus. He alone has the ability to satisfy all your desires according to his will. He is the one who provides us with joy, peace, healing, and whatever else we require. Relationships (at best) should push us to be better persons, partners, and contributors to society, but they should not be the be-all and end-all of our lives.
Our lives should not revolve on our partners because they did not give us that life. It is beneficial that you maintain a life outside your partner. You should have your own friends, work, hobbies, and connection with God. A partner should add value to your life, and not take over your entire life; that spot should be reserved for Christ.
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