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How to Stop a Co-Dependent Relationship from Continuing

by Contributor

This article describes the process of how to end an unhealthy co-dependent relationship and rebuild a new and healthier relationship from the old one.

Co-dependency is when a person acts against their own personal beliefs, wants, needs, and desires to please someone else. The first step is realizing this is happening and when exactly it is occurring. If you've ever done something for someone and really didn't want to do it because you didn't want to upset the other person, you were acting in a co-dependent manner.

The second step of overcoming a co-dependent relationship after understanding that one is taking place, is to begin taking action. Stop care taking, or taking care of other people. Your friends or significant others are fully capable of taking care of themselves. There is a huge difference between caring about someone (healthy) and caring for someone (unhealthy). Children are an exception when they are very small, but even they have the ability to make their own choices and care for themselves to a large degree at a rather young age. Caring for someone actually lowers the other person's self-esteem as they can come to believe they are incapable of taking care of themselves.

When you begin taking action, the other person(s) in the co-dependent relationship will notice. You now must learn to become assertive and stand up for yourself. This is not about being selfish and it is not about being aggressive about standing up for yourself. It is about expressing your feelings openly and letting others know how you feel about having to "take care of" others. You do this by stating your boundaries of what you feel is acceptable and what is not. You can only take care of yourself and your own personal happiness must come first. If you are not happy and healthy, how are you supposed to function in everyday life and all of your relationships? The short answer is you can't.

Once you begin being assertive about changing the unhealthy relationship and others take notice and begin to cooperate, show your appreciation for their efforts. Doing so is a positive reinforcement and will encourage the other person to continue to change for the better.

If the other person continues to violate your personal boundaries, restate what you feel is right and that you will not allow it to continue. This does NOT necessarily mean ending the relationship, it means that you will not be a full participant in everything while it continues to go on. For example, if a fight ensues, you would state you are not going to be a part of it and you would remove yourself from the situation by going for a walk, drive, or even going out to catch a movie or cup of coffee. You can substitute any negative behavior that violates your boundaries with the fight in the example above. Let the other person know there are consequences to their actions and that you will not tolerate the behavior any longer.

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