So by now you’ve hopefully read the first two installments of my, The 3 Deadly Sins of Codependency series. If you haven’t, check them out! You’ve heard a little bit about how being too attentive or invested in the lives and problems of your loved ones could be a sign that you’re unhealthily navigating your relationship. While it can be hard to judge where the line is for those two habits, this next one is pretty easy.
As a young adult, most of my friends are unmarried. Many of them are indeed in committed relationships, but at this point few have had a serious partnership that has ever lasted more than a year and a half. I mention this, because my last Deadly Sin of Codependency has a huge contextual element to it. A habit that might not be healthy for a 20-year old who has been dating their partner for 6 months, might be perfectly normal and conducive to a happy relationship for someone who is, say, 35 and married with a toddler.
So with that caveat in mind, I come to my next warning sign…
When “me” becomes “we”.
- My roommate asks if I want to go to a movie on Sunday. “Sure!” I say. Sunday comes around and she double checks if I’m still in. “Of course!” Then the response, “Your boyfriend to?” There’s an assumption that all invites and events will include the SOs, even without specifying beforehand.
- I text in the group thread our friends are on, “Anyone want to go out tonight?” For once there’s actually a resounding “Yes!” Everyone is down for a ladies night. But then, oh-so-predictably one person asks, “Can my boyfriend come?” Most of us have boyfriends and yet, only one person felt the need for theirs to tag along.
- I ask if my friend wants to grab brunch over the weekend. Her response? “I have to check with XX to see what our plans are.” It’s not quite asking for permission, but it’s definitely depending on someone else’s calendar. Shouldn’t you already know if you have plans?
Those are some of the examples that I come into on a daily basis with the friends I believe to be codependent. It’s interesting, because their relationships never start off like this either. For the first couple of months I can make plans with my roommate and not assume her boyfriend is included in that. And yet, around the time that I notice some of her codependent habits start creeping in…this inevitably becomes one of them.
I can only speak from the perspective of a young, unmarried woman in a large metropolitan city. But I have to guess that even if you were in a relationship that had lasted longer than 4 1/2 years (like me), or were married, or had kids, etc. that maintaining a bit of independence in your lives would still be healthy. From my experience, if you don’t have your own social lives or hobbies…how will you ever have anything new or insightful to talk about?
Finding your “me” again.
If you found yourself on the opposite end of any of my above scenarios, I hate to say it but you might need to spend some time adjusting your habits so that you are being mindful of you again, and not just on the person you’re dating.
- If you’re making plans with another person or couple, confirm that you’re going as a couple.
For one, there are two separate people who need to check their calendars. If you’re only speaking to one person, they need to give their partner a heads up. And for two, if my partner can’t come because I didn’t realize it was an open invite, there are few couples that I would personally choose to third wheel with…and you might not be one of them.
This is just being courteous. On the other hand, this might also help keep you mindful of how often you’re making quality time for your other relationships instead of lumping in your friend and boyfriend time together. This is fun every once in a while, but if that’s the majority of how you see either of them, it’s really not valuable time with either group.
It’s like eating a bag of Doritos in front of the TV. The reason they tell you not to do it? Because you don’t realize you’re eating 1000 calories in 10 minutes. When you stop and actually think about what you’re eating – in this case, who you’re making time for – you’ll also be more mindful of how that looks and whether or not you’re balancing well.
2. This one is so ridiculously simple. If no one else is bringing their partner to an event, night, or gathering with your close friends…you shouldn’t ask to. It’s perfectly normal and understandable to clarify if it’s a friends-only thing, but that is different than straight up asking if your boo can come. Why? Because it’s likely your friends might feel obligated to say yes without really being excited about the addition. Just don’t do it. Don’t ask, don’t bring. Still not sure?
Times where it’s okay to ask to bring your boo:
- Parties/events at a friend’s home with more than a small handful of guests. Less than 6? Nope. They would have clearly invited your beau if they wanted to.
- Activities (going out, festivals, whatever!) with close friends and acquaintances. It’s a group thing? Oh, Jane is bringing her coworker and Jimmy might make an appearance later? Yes. Your guy or gal can come.
- Established double, triple, quadruple dates. If your friends are bringing their partners you clearly can do.
And that folks…is pretty much it. Otherwise, repeat after me, “Don’t ask, don’t bring.”
3. This is also very simple and yet so many women my age fall into it. Not only that, they’re often times encouraged. If you don’t have plans, then you don’t. have. plans. Now, this one does depend on context because if you have commitments such as children or pets, you do check with one another before you commit to something else that could perhaps take up an entire chunk of the day. But otherwise? Nope.
Nope, nope, nope…nope. NOPE.
You don’t live together? You don’t have pets? You don’t have kids? And…you guys don’t have plans yet? Well guess what? You’re free to do whatever someone asks you to do with them. The only response you should give is a yes or a no. And if your go-to is to check with someone else about your calendar, then plain and simple, you’re not balancing your life well. It’s not about being considerate to your boo, it’s not about being in a long-term relationship, it’s being codependent.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments!