Does this sound like you: in each new relationship, you find yourself repeating the same patterns despite your best intentions. Unhealthy codependency occurs when two people with unhealthy traits make each other worse by entering a relationship together. The issue is that many people with codependent traits don’t realize they’re doing this until it’s too late.
Often when we meet deeply unhappy couples, we wonder: “what drives them to stay together if they dislike each other so much?” While financial entanglement, children, and the shame of divorce play a part in keeping unhappy couples together, there is the bigger issue that one or both of these people believe that they deserve to be mistreated and to be unhappy in love.
If you are starting to become concerned that your relationships suffer from the pitfalls of codependency, here are four of the main traits that can play into creating an unhealthy, codependent relationship.
Low self-esteem or a lack of self-worth from one or both partners
To an extent, codependent partners are both responsible for the state that their relationship ends up in. In a relationship, ongoing conflict needs two willing partners, which basically means that it takes two to tango. In a codependent relationship, low self-esteem or self-worth plays a huge part in being willing to accept a relationship where you are mistreated.
- An urge to people please, even when it’s not good for you
There is nothing wrong with wanting people to like you–until it goes too far. Being an obsessive people-pleaser could put you at risk for a codependent relationship to form. This is because people-pleasers rarely say no, even when it’s something that doesn’t benefit them or hurts them. This means they rarely establish healthy boundaries in relationships. This can also mean that people in codependent relationships will forgive or cover up a partner’s addictions or problems with drugs. This program can help recover from substance abuse and help you delve into the issues surrounding codependent, enabling relationships.
- An inability to form proper boundaries
Having poor boundary control means that you will often feel responsible for other people’s emotions or they blame their own emotions on someone else. Other times, people who are codependent have too rigid boundaries and refuse to open up and are closed off and withdrawn. There are also times where people will even go back and forth between both, making it hard to know what to expect.
- Extreme reactivity
In a healthy relationship, people understand that not everything the other person does necessarily reflect on them. Sometimes, your partner will be having a bad day and might be a bit withdrawn or down. In a codependent relationship though, anything said that is perceived as hurtful, anything you disagree with will be perceived as an attack against you because of the poor boundary control. With proper boundary control, you would understand that this is just an opinion or a bad day and not a reflection of who you are or your worth.