“Сodependency fits everyone to greater or lesser degrees,” that’s exactly what Ruth Morehouse, Ph.D. and co-director of world-known Marriage & Family Health Center says.
(And frankly, I do agree with her, relying on my complicated toxic relationship experiences).
Thus, I also admit the fact that the risk of finding myself in unfulfilling, dishonest relationships that feature emotional fusion is very high.
Moreover, such unhealthy codependency can pervade any kind of interactions from work to my family connections.
Still, codependency is not recognized as a distinct personality disorder by any version of the DSM, so the co-dependent behavior is not something I should be afraid of. It’s something I should just be able to identify, treat, and overcome in order to live a fuller and happier life.
But this knowledge isn’t something I was born with. I’ve learned it from my toxic 3-year-long relationships, and I wanna share my experience with everyone:
Stopping codependent behavior
The very first thing I had to do to stop the codependent behavior is to identify it. Indeed, it turned out to be quite hard, especially because it’s about my next of kin.
The mixture of signs from this list is exactly what codependent behavior looks like:
- Lack of confidence & low self-esteem
- Depression & stress
- Having no boundaries
- Familial dysfunction
- Emotional reactivity or low expressivity
- Inability to say NO
- Excessive desire to take care of others
- Poor communication
- Fear of abandonment and loneliness
- Love based on pity
- A desire to rescue others
- Need to be liked by everyone
- Need for control over others
- Feeling responsible for others’ actions
- Inability to adjust to changes
- Putting needs & feelings of others over own needs & feelings
- Difficulty making independent decisions
Besides the above list of codependent people characteristics, taking a codependency test online and being diagnosed by a professional are also in my so-called codependency first aid kit.
How to not experience codependency anymore
Once I recognized I was in a codependent relationship by some of the ‘symptoms’ listed above, I moved on to defeat this destructive and toxic condition by setting these rules:
- I love myself with all my perfect imperfections.
- I set personal boundaries, without ignoring the need for privacy and personal space.
- I become honest with myself – don’t waste my own time and energy on something I don’t need (but somebody else does).
- I am honest with others. I don’t say YES if I actually feel like NO. I express my needs and desires.
- I make friends with myself: learn more about my likes and dislikes, things that make me happy, and things that weigh me down.
- I avoid negative thinking by changing it to higher expectation and positive thoughts.
- I do what makes me happy: find a hobby or an activity that I really enjoy even if my partner doesn’t share this interest.
- I work on my self-esteem through special programs, tools, books, and professional help.
- I stop feeling responsible for others – I live my own life.
- I spend time outside my relationship: I have a life of my own and respect my partner’s personal space.
- I believe in myself. Yes, I can do everything without others’ help. Yes, I do.
- I don’t try to advise and counsel others when I feel like they need it. I do it only if they really want to hear my opinion.
- I spend more time with people who make me a better person and help develop my personal or professional skills.
- I don’t try to be a people-pleaser. I focus on my needs and never do anything just to please others or to control them.
Dealing with people with no boundaries
When I noticed that my partner doesn’t have boundaries, suffers from codependency, and makes the relationship toxic, here’s what I did to deal with this problem:
- Identify Own Boundaries
Yes, first of all, I had to make sure that I have a clear understanding of my own boundaries, needs, and desires. What is allowed and what’s not. What is acceptable and what’s not.
- Write Down Each Boundary Violation
Also, I made notes each time my ex tried to violate my boundaries with excessive attention, unsolicited advice, unnecessary help, or undue care. I recorded my reactions too.
Then, I analyzed my behavior and decided which violations I can accept, and which ones should be stopped.
- Change the Behavior Model
Some people intentionally violate other people’s boundaries to get some reaction out of them. Thus, I changed the way I react – started ignoring it or just laugh.
Codependency is an issue of great importance, which can ruin not only a relationship but also a personality, so, never neglect to set personal boundaries and respect the boundaries of the others.