Relationships are no easy task. Whether you are in a romantic relationship or maintaining bonds with family and friends, you are bound to experience the ups and downs of building healthy connections.  My life experience has been full of healthy – and some not so healthy – relationships. After ending some less-than-ideal partnerships, I came to learn about how I show up in relationships and the attachment patterns I gravitate towards.

The term codependency has become more commonly used over the past decade. Despite it’s frequent use, the term codependency is not a new concept. It was used in Alcoholics Anonymous to describe the relationship style between those who had loved ones with substance addiction issues. Codependency is defined as a dysfunctional relationship pattern where a person is psychologically dependent on (or controlled by) another person who has a pathological condition (such as an addiction issue) (American Psychological Association).

It can be powerful to check if you are in a codependent relationship, as often times people do not even know they are in one.

Unsure if you are in a codependent relationship? Here are some of the signs:

  1. Feeling the need to ask for permission or needing to check in about whether you can live your life or do things you feel called to. A person in a codependent relationship will find themself in relationships where they cannot fully be themselves. On my journey, I wanted to attend workshops and join other communities but found myself asking my partner if they were on board, in which they would agree, but then come up with excuses as to why I should not. This left me doubting my decision to join and just staying home.
  1. Doing things for the other person even if it makes you feel uncomfortable or pushes you past moral/ethical boundaries. Often this can show up with a partner feeling pressured into sexual experiences or doing something that could be harmful to self or others.
  1. Feeling a sense of loss of self or struggling to find time for yourself. I have found that if I am not mindful of my codependent tendencies, I will easily return to giving up all my time to support my partner or run around caring for others. Ensuring we spend quality time in self care mode – even if that means scheduling a day off for just you – we can build that sense of love towards ourselves.
  1. You are the only one that apologizes in the relationship even if the other person has played a part in the conflict. This can be a sign of some major pathological issues and can be quite defeating. It takes two to tango and if either person in a relationship is unable to admit their faults and talk from a balanced perspective, then the relationship is most likely tainted with a dash of unhealthy codependency.

Obviously, this list is but just a taste of how codependency can manifest itself. The question is what can you do to create the changes and build healthier relationships?

  1. Learn to set boundaries – learning to say No and stand up for what you believe in is part of our life journey. It can also lead to you opening the door to more meaningful relationships. In the long run when you can honor yourself, you allow others to honor you too.
  1. Take steps to begin forming new connections and doing the things you love. This may come with some resistance from others, but it is important for you to stand up for yourself. This will add to more passion and excitement in your life.
  1. Change your mindset – often the cause of codependency is related to childhood neglect and trauma. You can shift your mindset by exploring affirmations, spiritual/personal development techniques, or speaking about your challenges with an empowering friend.
  1. Learn about attachment styles for children and adults. Knowledge is power! When you understand why you form relationships the way you do, you can have the power to create change.
  1. Speak with a Professional. When things seem to be hitting a wall and breaking the cycle seems to much of a challenge, then speaking with a therapist or joining a support group like Codependents Anonymous may help with creating lasting change inside and out.

Though creating healthier relationships is not always easy, I do believe it is possible. Once you make the decision to maintain these forms of healthier bonds, the right people will show up on your path to support you and show you what a secure relationship is like. Be open to the possibility!

Written by Fola Veritas