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15 Signs of Codependency & Traits to Know If You Lean on Others All the Time

If you want to find out the signs of codependency, it’s likely that you’re worried about the state of your relationship. It’s not too late to change it. 

Signs of Codependency

My first serious relationship had alarming signs of codependency on both sides of the relationship. I relied on my partner for my happiness, and always had an excuse ready for his poor and controlling behavior. Needless to say, the relationship was one-sided, and I spent most of my time making huge sacrifices while he expected me to make them.

And that’s what a codependent relationship is. It’s when one person is significantly investing more into the relationship than the other partner. For example, I wanted to help my partner, and I took his struggles as my own. This made me even more connected to him than I was to myself.

If this sounds like your situation, take heart that you’re not alone. We tend to sacrifice so much in a relationship that we end up partly losing ourselves. What we need to realize is that it’s not a healthy way to have a relationship. By focusing on yourself, you’re stronger for your partner. [Read: Do you have codependent traits that make you clingy?]

What does it mean to be codependent?

Being codependent means that you’re emotionally reliant on your happiness and wellbeing. You focus on how they are and what they’re doing so much that you forget yourself. You might become needy, but you won’t see it that way. To you, you’re just being a committed partner who would do anything for the person they love.

The problem is that your own needs are second best. You’re suffering while they’re thriving.

The other situation is when one partner is doing all the giving and the other knows it. They happily take everything given to them and don’t think to question it or give it back. They enable the codependent partner because it’s not in their best interests to ask them to stop and take a step back. Why would they when they’re getting everything they want given to them on a platter? [Read: How to be less codependent & enjoy your life as it could be]

How to recognize a codependent relationship

Codependent relationships aren’t always easy to spot out right away. People who are “takers” will throw their partners small rewards here and there, making sure they come back for more. Those rewards are often enough to keep them where they are.

Of course, some people are more dominant in their relationships, and that doesn’t mean it’s codependent. But if you’re feeling like your relationship isn’t going down a healthy path, you may be in a codependent relationship.

If you regularly feel like you’re giving, giving, giving and never getting anything back, that’s a huge red flag. Relationships are about give and take. When you’re always giving and they’re always taking, everything is out of balance. [Read: How to spot selfish people and stop them from hurting you]

Alarming signs of codependency that start the pattern

Let’s cut the unhealthy pattern. Are you seeing any of these signs of codependency in your relationship? It may seem like the two of you are very close at first, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you start to feel like you or your partner can’t function without each other’s presence, perhaps one of you is preventing the other from growing.

1. Your partner’s feelings always come first

It’s normal for you to consider your partner’s feelings and sometimes put your own needs to the side. But if you’re always putting your partner’s feelings first without consulting your own, this is an unhealthy sign of codependency. If you’re not comfortable, you should be able to say ‘no.’ [Read: When you truly love someone, should you do anything for them?]

2. Your partner manipulates you during fights

Sometimes we say things we shouldn’t say when we’re arguing. But, as a relationship evolves, boundaries are built, and people learn to communicate with one another. If your partner is manipulating you during arguments, then it’s a clear sign it’s not a healthy space. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you shouldn’t ignore]

3. Your partner’s happiness is your priority

Listen, you should put your partner’s feelings as a priority, but that doesn’t mean their feelings should go before yours.

This is tricky, and yes, sometimes you will need to make sacrifices, but only to a point. If you always put their feelings before yours, this can cause resentment and codependency.

4. You don’t have a sense of personal identity

One of the clearest signs of codependency is when you start losing your sense of identity. It’s perfectly normal for couples to do things together and have similar opinions, but you’re also your own person. Your happiness should not rely on your relationship because you have other things in your life, such as friends, family, and hobbies. [Read: How to stop being codependent and have a healthy relationship]

5. You make excuses for your partner’s behavior

We all have our flaws, and sometimes we do or say things that aren’t right. But through those experiences, we learn life lessons. However, your partner doesn’t have to take responsibility for their actions because you always have an excuse for them.

6. You struggle to make decisions in your relationship

In healthy relationships, it’s normal for partners to make decisions on behalf of the relationship. You’re with your partner because you trust their discretion. However, you struggle to make decisions in your relationship. If anything, most of the decision making is done by your partner, taking away from the ideas of “togetherness.”

7. You feel your partner’s pain

When our partners go through a tough time, naturally, we empathize with them. You may feel you need to take on your partner’s emotional burden, placing it on your shoulders. You don’t want to see your partner is in pain, but when you’re codependent, you take their pain and make it your own. [Read: What does a healthy relationship look like? The steps you need to build one]

8. If you’re honest with yourself, you feel taken advantage of

You’re full of kindness and love, and your partner knows that. These qualities are what people want in their partners, but some people take advantage of them. If you’re not feeling appreciated and used, then this is one of those signs of codependency which could be used against you. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re always being taken for granted]

9. You fear being abandoned

Though you may not feel good about your codependent relationship, you fear being abandoned by them. This is one of the reasons why you continue to be in the relationship, even though you know it’s not healthy, you don’t want them to leave you.

10. You do the giving, your partner does the taking

In the relationship, you’re constantly giving to your partner, which isn’t necessarily bad. In a healthy relationship, you need to invest in your relationship. But this only works when both people are giving into the relationship. If someone is codependent, they’re taking more from the relationship then they’re giving. [Read: 16 clear signs to know if you’re in a relationship with a user]

11. You struggle to communicate your needs

Though your partner is always able to communicate their needs to you and have them fulfilled, you’re not able to communicate your needs. And if you do, your needs are either ignored or put down.

12. You avoid fighting by suppressing your feelings

Since your partner doesn’t fight fair, you avoid any confrontations with them. But, in essence, all you’re doing is suppressing your feelings, which makes you feel worse about yourself and your relationship. In a healthy relationship, you can freely speak your mind and have productive arguments.

13. You feel trapped

In the beginning, your relationship and dependency on each other were endearing and seen as signs of love. But now, you’re starting to feel trapped. You aren’t able to speak your mind, you’re needs aren’t being met, and you prioritize your partner over yourself. You no longer feel equal in your relationship. [Read: Controlling vs caring – A thin line controlling people love to cross]

14. Your partner exhibits controlling behavior

When you’re are arguing, for example, they use the relationship against you. For example, for you two to be together, they’ll suggest you stop seeing your friends or family. Or, they’ll use the relationship as a way to continue negative behavior such as drug abuse or drinking.

15. You take on your partner’s problems as your own

When you’re codependent, you can’t handle seeing your partner in pain. Though not literally, figuratively speaking, you try to take their pain away from them. But, by doing this, you end up jeopardizing your own feelings and mental health, as you become responsible for their feelings. [Read: 15 Scary signs you’re in a toxic relationship that’s breaking you]

You’re noticing the signs of codependency – what should you do?

If you notice these signs of codependency it’s time to stop, take a step back, and examine why you’re doing this. Is there a deeper issue you need to deal with, or is it simply because you have confused what love really is.

For sure, we do things or our partners, but we don’t have to do everything. Your needs matter too. It’s time to do some self-improvement work and figure out what is making you act this way and how you can improve things. You need to build up your confidence and realize that your own needs, wants, and desires matter just as much as your partner’s. [Read: How to improve yourself: 16 Powerful secrets of self-improvement]

Talk to your partner too. Maybe they don’t realize what is happening and they want to help you right the issue too. At the end of the day, if they’re not willing to help you, you have to question why – perhaps they like doing all the taking while you just give everything you have.

[Read: Am I codependent? 14 signs you’re clingy and overstepping boundaries]

As you have learned, codependency isn’t necessarily bad. But when it goes to extremes, you can lose yourself in a relationship. If you see these signs in your relationship, it’s time to make a change.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and ...
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