How to Stop Being Codependent

Authored by Helen Parson

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas Matta

How to stop being codependent

An unhealthy relationship isn’t good for either individual. The mental impacts of an unhealthy relationship can be overwhelming, but it isn’t just your mental state that can be damaged. You physical well-being can also be hurt in an unhealthy relationship. Some individuals experience the same issues over and over again in relationships. Every time a relationship ends, they express their desires for the next to be different. Unfortunately, the same mistakes are made and the relationship becomes toxic over time.

Emotional dependency on a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband can lead to a toxic relationship in which you need that person to function on a daily basis. Codependency is a term used to describe a relationship in which two individuals with dysfunctional personalities create and/or bring out the worst in each other. Imagine being in a relationship with someone that only makes you feel worse about yourself and others, yet you cannot get out of that relationship for a variety of reasons. This is a codependent relationship and it can cause your mental and physical health to deteriorate.

Codependent personality

Often times, the term codependent is used to describe a ‘needy’ person in a relationship. While this can be accurate on occasions, there is so much more to being codependent than simply being ‘needy’. A person that is codependent on another individual makes sacrifices in life to improve their partner’s well-being, happiness, and mood. These can be major sacrifices in life to grow the other person’s happiness.

At the same time, the individual making all the sacrifices receives nothing in return from their partner. In the end, the person that is codependent has a change in mood and happiness. In fact, their mood and happiness are often in direct correlation to their partner’s overall well-being. Over time, you begin to lose your identity and everything you do becomes attached to your partner. Your identity is lost and you take on your partner’s identity.1https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J020V14N01_08

Codependent persons crave the approval of their partners. The partner typically has a dominant personality. They usually get a sense of satisfaction over controlling their partner and thrive off the codependent person’s need to be around them.

What are the signs of codependent behavior?

Signs of a person’s codependent behavior:

 

  • Difficulty making decisions without advice from their partner or others
  • Difficulty communicating to their partner or friends
  • Difficulty expressing their feelings
  • Difficulty beginning new projects without support from friends, family, a partner or others
  • Feeling worthless unless needed by others
  • Possessing an obsessive desire for the approval of others
  • Possessing low self-esteem or a lack of confidence in themselves
  • Possessing an unhealthy dependence on family, friends, and a partner
  • Unable to care for themselves
  • Avoiding disagreements with others due to a fear of disapproval
  • Possessing an obsessive need for support from others
  • Feeling helpless or vulnerable when left alone
  • Possessing no personal identity or interests outside of their partner’s
  • Possessing an exaggerated sense of responsibility for another person’s actions
  • Making extreme sacrifices for others’ happiness
  • Desperately seeking another relationship immediately after one ends

 

Codependent personality traits may lead to unhealthy, relationships with a partner, friends, and/or family. If you possess one or more of these traits, it doesn’t mean you are trapped in a codependent relationship. You can make positive changes to your life by finding out how to stop being codependent and leaving toxic relationships.

How to stop being codependent

To find how to stop being codependent on others, you must first realize that you are in a codependent relationship. This starts by understanding the signs of being codependent on another individual. In a romantic relationship, one partner is known as the enabler.  on others, you must first realize that you are in a codependent relationship. This starts by understanding the signs of being codependent on another individual. In a romantic relationship, one partner is known as the enabler. The enabler has an emotional or physical need that is quite severe. The other individual in the relationship is the codependent personality. They are willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to meet their partner’s needs. The couple’s personalities will become entwined over time and can no longer function independently.

Once you recognize that you are in a codependent relationship, you will need to put in time and effort to overcome it. The best way to stop a codependent relationship is to get professional help from a trained individual that can help you separate yourself from the mental and physical destruction of the relationship. This is the first step to overcoming a codependent relationship once you have recognized that you have an issue.

A well-trained psychologist can provide you the help needed to end unhealthy behaviors. Individual and group therapy sessions are great ways to express yourself and to learn techniques to overcome codependency. You may seek out couples therapy to take a deep dive into the inner workings of your relationship. Unfortunately, enablers may not want to seek out couples therapy as it shines a light on their destructive behavior and desire to take from a codependent personality without giving anything back. A therapist or counselor can uncover your feelings that have been suppressed over time.

What options do codependent individuals have?

Codependent individuals have more options than just therapy sessions. In fact, you may seek an alternative to professional help, at least to begin with.

How to Stop Being Codependent, 9 strategies include:

 

  • Short periods of separation from your partner to create independence
  • Establish “me time”, start a hobby or activity you enjoy
  • Don’t focus your life on your partner
  • Spend more time with family or friends to create a support circle
  • Stop making extreme sacrifices for your partner’s happiness
  • Establish boundaries in your relationship
  • Focus on how to stop being codependent
  • Do things that make you happy even if your partner doesn’t approve
  • Do not accept physical or mental abuse from your partner
  • Get treatment for any drug and/or alcohol abuse experienced by yourself or partner

 

Codependency is a form of addiction. You are addicted to pleasing your partner, friends, or family members in a codependent relationship while the enabler is addicted to the gratification of your neediness. Becoming aware of your situation, you can overcome your codependent behavior and have a more fulfilling relationship with others. Better understanding of codependency can lead to you living and functioning in a healthier relationship.

 

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Our good friend, Vince DiPasquale talks on how to stop being codependent

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    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J020V14N01_08
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