There is so much more to this term than just “being clingy” in a romantic relationship.
Many people find that their friendships, their familial relationships, and even their relationship with their work can feel codependent at times. A person who is codependent will plan their entire life around pleasing the other person.
Simply put, a codependent relationship is when one person needs the other person, who, in turn, needs to be needed – thus creating a cycle of codependency. The codependent’s self-esteem and self-worth will come only from sacrificing themselves for the other person.
So how does one become codependent?
Likely, this tendency formed as a way for you to feel safe or connected with loved ones.
Usually, a codependent behavior pattern will form in childhood when there is a caregiver who is absent in some way. Maybe you had a caregiver who was unavailable due to their being busy with work or an addiction. From this, you learned to cater to them and their needs, whether that means being an “entertainer” for the busy parent or being “pleasant” and “sweet” so as not to anger the alcoholic. Whatever the experience, you’ve learned from a young age that your needs are lesser than the needs of someone else, therefore you bend to their will.
However, this strategy (which was helpful at one time) will only get you so far as the codependent person moves further into adulthood.
Likely, the codependent will grow tired of always feeling disappointed by the other person who doesn’t seem to notice how much effort you’re putting toward the relationship.
Or, you’ll grow tired of always sacrificing your own wants and needs because you’re getting very little in return. Of course you are!
You deserve to have your needs acknowledged and met. You deserve to be in a relationship or at a job where you are seen for who you are and valued for what you bring to the table.
Maybe this means taking baby steps toward leaving a relationship where you feel codependent. Maybe this means doing some of your own inner work to identify and acknowledge these patterns in your life, and understand their origin.
Tips for leaving behind Codependency:
*Find someone (a friend, a therapist, a family member) who you trust to share your true self with. Allow this person to help you find ways to acknowledge and express your true feelings, some of which may have been buried within you for many, many years.
*Learn about and create boundaries for yourself. You can love others, but your love for yourself has to come first. Otherwise, we’re searching for approval and love outside of ourselves, which may compromise our authenticity.
*Say goodbye to abusive behaviors. When you’ve recovered from codependency, you no longer feel compelled to stay in unhealthy, abusive relationships. You know that you are only responsible for your own happiness and the weight of having to please others is off your shoulders. Lead with love and bravery and stop letting fear behind the wheel!