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Overcoming Codependent Relationships

by Karen Kleinschmidt

A codependent relationship stems from the thoughts and feelings that you need each other to feel complete. While it's healthy to rely on each other, obsessive and excessive neediness or encouraging your partner to need you is often a cover-up for the person's own abandonment fears, according to the Psych Central article, "Co-Dependent Relationships." In a healthy relationship, both partners are self-reliant and interdependent; in a codependent relationship, the sense of self is often incomplete in one or both partners.

Red Flags

Codependent behavior can be difficult to see when you're involved in the relationship, according to the Woman's Day article, "Are You in a Codependent Relationship?" Take note if you tend to blame yourself for the problems in your relationship, if you are unable to feel happy unless you partner is fulfilled, or if you think your partner will change his ways if only you change your behavior. Pay attention to your uncomfortable, painful or sad feelings to see if you usually push them away. The first step toward changing your codependency is to notice your part in your interactions with your partner.

Take Inventory

A big issue in codependent relationships is that the codependent partner does not make her wants and needs a priority. Use that as your starting point. Make a list of all the positive things you have in your life. Then make a list of what you need to do to treat yourself well, to love yourself first and meet your own expectations. Accepting your situation is essential to healing and changing, according to Darlene Lancer, MFT, in the article, "Recovery from Codependency," published on Psych Central. You may decide to take some alone time or give yourself space to recover.

Draw the Line

Codependents often have a difficult time saying no to others. If it's difficult for you, begin by saying, "I'll get back to you on that." or "I have to check my schedule." This will get you in the habit of thinking about what you want and need before you answer. Take your time before answering texts or phone calls, especially if you feel weak at the moment. If you are codependent, you may get to a point where you decide to leave. Admitting your love for your partner while putting yourself first may be exactly what is needed to provoke change within your relationship, according to Daniel Bochner, as cited in the WebMD article, "Are You in a Codependent Relationship?'

Outside Assistance

Counseling can help a couple in addition to individual counseling if one of you has an addiction or other issue, according to Scott Wetzler, author and cited in the WebMD article, "Are You in a Codependent Relationship?' Support groups can be helpful for one or both partners. Consider a depression support group if you suffer with depression. Al-Anon may help the partner of an alcoholic with codependency issues. Alcoholics Anonymous is appropriate for the alcoholic in the relationship.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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