Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 07-18-2016 Comments: 0
Human beings are hard-wired for forming relationships. We like to connect, and romantic relationships are incredibly important in our lives. But sometimes, we can grow too dependent on another person and start developing signs of codependency in relationships.
Codependency is one of the biggest challenges we face in our relationships. Quite often, we don’t realize we enact this behavior because it is so ingrained in our culture. When someone is codependent, that person looks to someone else for a sense of self-worth, love and belonging, rather than cultivating love and acceptance from within. Without the other person, the individual doesn’t feel “whole.”
Take Cinderella, for example, a fairy tale about a handsome prince rescuing a poor girl abused by her stepmother. Similarly, we look for the prince or knight in shining armor in our own lives to “rescue” us from our current situation and expect a happily-ever-after from someone completely outside of ourselves.
Are you subconsciously repelling dates with signs of codependency? Here is how to tell if you’re a codependent dater:
Codependence may look like love, but when you are hoping for someone to rescue you, or if you feel that you “need” your partner, that is fear-based behavior, not love-based behavior. When you date, if you are searching for someone to complete you or to help you avoid being alone, you might not realize that this is a sign of codependency.
Nobody else is responsible for making you happy – that is something you do for yourself. If your moods are dependent on whether or not your dates act in certain ways, tell you what you want to hear, or if you expect them to make you happy, it is a sign of codependency.
Some people tend to be people-pleasers, so it’s natural to want to make your dates feel comfortable and happy. But this can be taken to an extreme when you find yourself ignoring your own needs in favor of someone else’s. This does not lead to a healthy relationship in the long run.
Conflict avoidance stems from fear. When you are afraid of not measuring up to someone else’s standard, or that your date will not ask you out again if you stand up for yourself or disagree with his choices, it’s a sign of codependency. Many codependent people are drawn to relationships with people who are abusive, controlling, or emotionally unavailable because of poor boundaries and low self-esteem. They are too wrapped up in fear of being abandoned or feeling unloved.
During the early stages of a relationship, codependent behavior can be a turn-off for your dates. They are getting to know you and are interested in your thoughts, opinions, and passions. But if you are constantly putting your date’s needs and happiness above your own – for example, going to Lakers games when you really hate basketball or eating Chinese food when you have an allergy to soy – you aren’t forming a real connection. Instead, you’re hiding behind a mask of fear, and your dates may question who you really are.
Fear is never healthy for a relationship. It leads to off-putting behavior. Maybe you will be distrustful of your new relationship, and wonder if he’s cheating each time he turns down an offer to go out with you to hang with his friends. Or perhaps you will start to feel clingy, which is a toxin to a budding romance.
Down the line, your relationship may suffer from codependent behavior. You might feel disconnected from your partner, or you might find that you have grown more controlling and less trusting. Or maybe you have forgotten who you truly are since you’ve been acting the part of doting, self-sacrificing girlfriend for so long.
If you think you might be a codependent dater, it’s important to recognize that you are far from alone. Many people exhibit codependent behavior in relationships without ever realizing it. There are tools you can try to work through your codependent tendencies so you can move on to happier, healthier relationships.
Many of us aren’t aware when we talk down to ourselves, chide ourselves for making mistakes, or blame our partners (or ourselves) when codependent behaviors undermine our relationships. For example, the next time you feel ashamed for giving in to your boyfriend’s wishes without considering your own needs, take a deep breath and just notice the thought. See what is behind it. Are you fearful? Angry? In pain? The first step is noticing where our minds go and how our thought patterns contribute to unhealthy behavior.
Perhaps you feel that love brings pain, or that you aren’t deserving of a partner who truly loves and respects you. Instead of buying into your long-held beliefs, challenge them. Visualize a healthy, loving relationship. Tell yourself that you are worthy of love and respect. Do and say loving, kind things to yourself as you would your best friend. You don’t have to hold on to beliefs that aren’t working and more importantly, aren’t true. Transform negative limiting beliefs into positive empowering beliefs.
If you are afraid of being without a partner, it’s a good idea to cultivate a single life instead of looking for your next boyfriend. See what it feels like to develop a new hobby, take a class or even go on a solo road trip to get reacquainted with yourself. Sometimes, when we jump from relationship to relationship, we can lose track of who we really are as we shed away pieces of our core identity with every new relationship.
This is the most important step of overcoming dependency because many of us get trapped in fear of choosing the wrong relationship the next time around. Instead of closing yourself off (and trying to avoid heartbreak or rejection), let yourself be vulnerable. It’s only when we take these kinds of risks in love that we can truly connect with someone.
For more dating advice, connect with local matchmakers in your area when you join Intrigued Matchmaking Society.