We all know at least one person that disappears from our lives the moment they enter a new relationship. It’s considered something normal, almost expected. Have you noticed that? And when they do show up, they only ever talk about their partner or things they’ve done alongside them. Would you say this is unremarkable? Normal?
There are a few relationship habits that we believe are normal, but in reality, are codependent tendencies. This means that a person in a relationship becomes overly dependent on the other. The boundaries between the two people in this relationship slowly fade until they stop being two individual people.
It’s hard to spot codependent tendencies when everyone considers them normal, but here are a few that stand out the most.
Common Codependent Beliefs
Your Partner Will Fix Any Distress
Your partner is supposed to be there for you, to support you through difficult times. Likewise, you’re supposed to do the same for them. This alone isn’t necessarily a codependent tendency, but it’s easy to slip from that mindset into the absolute, overly reliant: my partner has to be there for me every single time I experience emotional distress.
It’s a dangerous line of thought. Expecting your partner to be there for you whenever you experience emotional distress is unrealistic and can damage the relationship. If your partner cannot be there for you every time, you might start building up resentment towards them, and you might have difficulties coping with your distress on your own. Your partner will, in turn, feel obligated to support you. They’ll end up doing so out of obligation as opposed to genuine caring.
Your Partner Completes You
It’s common to see this in media: people who find their one true love and claim that this person completes them, that they’re not whole without them. In fact, it’s so common that the idea is seen as a fundamental romantic ideal.
In reality, however, it’s very much a codependent tendency. People are not completed by their partner: they are full, whole persons on their own. The idea that your partner completes you can lead you down dangerous paths. You and your partner will find yourselves losing your personal identities. The boundaries between the two of you might be erased, and you’ll act and make decisions as though you were one person.
This supposedly romantic idea can be quite scary when you realise it erases the individual you are and the one your partner is.
You Must Spend Every Minute Together
As previously mentioned, we all know someone who disappears the moment they enter a new relationship. This seems normal to us too, almost expected. There’s a name for the earliest days of a relationship too: the honeymoon phase.
But spending every minute of every day with your partner is also a codependent tendency. You let go of any hobby you may have that you don’t share with your partner. You stop spending time with your friends and family. Your partner becomes the centre of your world, and you become theirs in return.
Breaking the Habits
A relationship doesn’t turn codependent overnight. It doesn’t turn into a healthy relationship overnight, either. Change is difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The first step is to sit down and have an open, honest communication with your partner. It’s important that you both recognise which of your habits are codependent so you can work on them.
Being able to spend time apart is also important: have hobbies that you don’t share with each other, spend time alone with your friends or family. It might sound counterintuitive, but it might make you and your partner closer too.
And if you find yourself needing additional help, don’t hesitate to seek a counselor, whether alone or with your partner. Schedule an appointment and we’ll help you in whatever way we can in couples counseling.