I believe most people have codependent tendencies. The more I learn about codependency the more this becomes obvious to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think having tendencies is the same as actually being codependent, but I do think they can lead to habits which in turn can become full fledged unhealthy relationships.
Like most things, codependency is an issue that’s easier to see in others than it might be to recognize in yourself. This is in part because it manifests itself in many different ways and often times, in completely opposite ways depending on the person. I was first introduced to codependency when watching my mother’s love-life. She knows it’s her Achilles heel. That being said, I didn’t realize that I too was codependent until the summer after graduating from college. That’s because I always had the perception that codependent relationships were mainly romantic ones. After all, that’s how my mother’s codependency manifested itself. However, once I started going to therapy myself and began reading Melody Battle’s book, Codependent No More, I was able to start recognizing patterns within myself that seemed unhealthy. And I learned that you can become codependent on just about anyone. Friends, family, or lovers.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you have a couple people in mind who you think act a little codependently. Or, maybe you’re concerned for yourself. So what are some habits that I’ve learned to be aware of? Well, I’m glad you asked! This series will take a look at some warning signs that could indicate your behavior is subtly evolving from that of a present, loving, person to a dependent one.
Disclaimer: These patterns are purely from my own experience and research into codependency. I am not a psychologist or doctor. So, while I can’t diagnose you, the idea is to get you to do the reflecting and decide for yourself what areas might need some adjusting so that you can lead a more peaceful, drama-free life.
The first sign of this series is one of my personal weaknesses:
Being overly invested.
It’s normal to feel protective. It’s normal to feel concerned when your loved ones are in a pickle. But when you start to feel more invested about a loved one’s personal relationships or obstacles than they even are, it’s time to take a step back and remember that this is not your problem. I know, I know…it can sound cold hearted. Women especially are taught that we’re supposed to be nurturing, giving, and at times downright sacrificial. Because of this, it can be challenging for us to really step back and let other people deal with their own problems. And it’s not a bad thing to help! What makes this turn unhealthy however, is when helping or caring for a loved one ends up negatively affecting how you interact with another person. To be more specific, when you’re loved one isn’t angry anymore, you should learn to let it go too.
What can this look like? Well luckily for you my family has a plethora of codependency issues so here are some examples:
- There’s a mundane or difficult task that someone has to do, but they’re not getting around to it. You’ve reminded them, you’ve shared your concern or thoughts about why it needs to get done (and soon!), you’ve sent them resources and information, and yet after months of pestering nothing changes. Unless they’re under the age of 25 and you’re their parents- let it go. Stop stressing about it. Stop bugging them about it. It’s not your problem.
- Your friend is in a relationship and spends all of her free time with their partner. They plan their activities, social life, and calendar around this person. You’ve told them you wish you saw them more. You’ve told them they spend a lot of time with their SO. You’ve basically begged for 1:1 time and yet, nothing changes. Let it go. They’ll probably destroy their relationship with their own codependent behavior but you’ve said all you can say. It’s not your problem.
So moral of the story? Don’t be more invested in someone else’s issue than they are. You’ll find yourself in a losing battle. And, if you notice that your finding yourself repeatedly in this position, that’s when you might have to evaluate yourself and potential codependency habits.
Want more? Read the next part of this series where we focus on the next deadly sin: Being overly attentive.