That’s Not Love: It’s Codependency

Codependency_Therapy with Luvie

“I can’t stop thinking about her.”

“I’m just so OBSESSED with him.”

“I can’t live without her!”

While these statements can seem endearing on the surface, in a particular context, these phrases can be evidence codependency.

I often encounter individuals grappling with the subtle yet intricate web of relationship codependency. In session, as we explored the dynamics of their relationship, sometimes we had to face the hard truth that “That’s not love. It’s codependency.” It’s a hard pill to swallow and is not an easy truth to deliver. However, depending on the relationship, recovery for both partners is possible, and with intentionality, the relationship has the potential to flourish.

There is a slew of codependency signs that can be found here, but one of a key sign of codependency is an overwhelming reliance on others for a sense of self-worth and identity. Individuals in codependent relationships often find it challenging to make decisions independently and may sacrifice their own needs to meet the demands of their partners. A codependent relationship lacks boundaries and does not allow space for individualism, for example, individual interests, hobbies, leisure time, and self-care activities.

Understanding the stages of codependency will help you identify where you are and where you need help. According to PsychCentral, the beginning stage of codependency can look like “obsessively thinking about a partner, rationalizing problematic behaviors, and having unhealthy boundaries.” The next stage can be identified by signs of depreciating self-esteem. Over time, this behavior can escalate into a cycle of acquiescence and enabling dysfunctional behavior, such as manipulation, nagging, and guilt, leading to an unhealthy and unbalanced dynamic within the relationship. The late stage of codependent relationships can look like relational stress with physical ramifications including but not limited to insomnia, headaches, temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder/jaw pain, digestive problems, eating disorders, and sciatica, as mentioned in PsychCentral. Mental manifestations include anger, resentment, and depression.

Recovery from codependency is a transformative journey that involves reclaiming your sense of self. Establishing your own identity is the first step, allowing you to rediscover your values, interests, and aspirations outside the context of the relationship. Rebuilding a relationship with yourself becomes crucial and it involves self-reflection and self-compassion. Setting boundaries and prioritizing your well-being without feeling guilty is a learning process, so self-compassion and grace for yourself are a must.

Self-love is the cornerstone of codependency recovery. Cultivating a compassionate and nurturing relationship with yourself is essential for breaking the habit of constantly seeking external validation. Independence follows as you begin to recognize your ability to navigate life autonomously which will boost your confidence and self-esteem. Embracing personal growth becomes an empowering aspect of recovery, where you explore new interests and passions that contribute to your physical, emotional, social, and overall well-being.

As a couple, understanding and addressing codependency within a relationship is a pivotal step toward fostering a healthier and more balanced connection. It’s important to recognize that codependency often arises from unmet emotional needs and ingrained patterns of behavior. To begin the journey of improvement together, both partners should embark on a path of self-awareness. Take the time to reflect on your own emotions, needs, and patterns of interaction. Identify areas where you may be overly reliant on the other person and consider how to establish healthier boundaries.

Effective communication is the cornerstone of overcoming codependency. Couples should strive for open and honest dialogues where both partners feel safe expressing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage each other to communicate calmly and respectfully, fostering an environment where concerns can be addressed without fear of judgment. Building a strong support system outside the relationship is equally important. Cultivate connections with friends, family, or support groups, as these relationships can provide valuable perspectives and emotional reinforcement.

In addition to fostering effective communication, prioritize personal growth by pursuing individual interests and goals. Celebrate each other’s successes in breaking codependent patterns and remain patient throughout the process. Seeking professional help, such as couples therapy or individual counseling, provides guidance in identifying underlying issues and developing healthier coping mechanisms. Remember, the journey to a healthier relationship is a collaborative effort requiring commitment, self-reflection, and mutual support.

Recovering from relationship codependency is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth. It involves recognizing patterns, peeling back layers, and embracing the courage to create a life independent of codependent dynamics— all of which is possible through the courageous partnership of therapy. Therapy offers a safe space to explore the roots of codependency, providing tools for establishing healthier boundaries, effective communication, and genuine connection.

Seeking therapy is a powerful commitment to your well-being. At Better Life Counseling, we provide individual and couples therapy for codependent recovery individuals and couples. Call us today for a free consultation at 470-854-2944 or schedule an appointment today!

Know that healing and growth are possible. You deserve the freedom to build relationships grounded in authenticity, mutual respect, and healthy love.

Share the Post: