9 co-dependent behaviors you should always avoid in a relationship, according to psychology

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Navigating a relationship can often feel like walking a tightrope.

You want to support your partner, but there’s a fine line between helping them and becoming co-dependent. It’s the difference between being their rock and being their crutch.

Co-dependency in a relationship means you’re relying way too much on your partner for your happiness and self-worth. And let me tell you, that’s a slippery slope.

With this in mind, I’m going to share with you 9 co-dependent behaviors to always steer clear of in a relationship. Because trust me, recognizing these signs can save you a lot of heartache down the line. So, let’s dive in!

1) Losing your individuality

In the early stages of a relationship, it’s normal to want to spend a lot of time with your partner.

But when you start giving up your own interests, hobbies, and friends to always be with them, it’s a red flag.

This is often the first sign of co-dependency: losing your individuality. It’s when your world begins to revolve entirely around your partner, and you slowly start to lose sight of who you are outside of the relationship.

Remember, you are two separate individuals with unique interests, passions, and friends. It’s essential to maintain those aspects of your identity even when in a relationship.

2) Feeling responsible for your partner’s emotions

Let me tell you about a time when I found myself in a co-dependent situation.

I was dating someone who was going through a tough time, and I found myself constantly worrying about their emotional state. If they had a bad day, I felt like it was my job to fix it. If they were upset, I felt like it was because of something I did or didn’t do.

This is another common sign of co-dependency: feeling responsible for your partner’s emotions. It’s when you find yourself taking on their feelings as your own, and feeling like you’re the one who has to make them happy.

But here’s what I’ve learned. It’s not your job to manage anyone else’s emotions but your own. You can be there to support your partner, but you can’t control how they feel.

It took me some time to figure this out, but once I did, it was a game-changer for me and my relationships. It allowed me to provide support without losing myself in the process.

3) Struggling to say no

In a co-dependent relationship, one person often has difficulty saying no to the other. They may feel an overwhelming need to please their partner, and worry that saying no could cause conflict or even lead to their partner leaving them.

This ties into a psychological concept known as the “pleaser personality“. Pleasers tend to have low self-esteem and fear rejection. They believe that they must always say yes and meet their partner’s needs in order to be loved.

But this can lead to a cycle of resentment. When you’re always saying yes, even when you want to say no, it can breed resentment towards your partner and create an imbalance in the relationship.

4) Having an excessive fear of abandonment

A core feature of co-dependency is an excessive fear of abandonment. If you constantly worry that your partner will leave you, or if you feel you can’t survive without them, you’re likely in a co-dependent relationship.

This fear can be so intense that you tolerate harmful or abusive behavior just to keep your partner around. You might even find yourself making excuses for their behavior or blaming yourself for their actions.

But here’s the thing: a relationship should never make you feel more anxious than secure. It should uplift you, not bring you down.

So, take some time to work on loving and accepting yourself. Once you do, you’ll realize that you are enough just as you are, and you don’t need someone else to validate your worth.

5) Neglecting your own needs

In a co-dependent relationship, one partner often neglects their own needs to cater to the other’s. Whether it’s your health, your career, or your mental well-being, nothing should take a backseat in your life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of constantly trying to meet your partner’s needs. But doing so can lead to burnout, resentment, and a loss of self-identity.

Make no mistake, it’s not selfish to prioritize yourself. In fact, taking care of your own needs is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship. It ensures that you’re not just giving all the time but also receiving.

6) Feeling incomplete without your partner

There’s a famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire that says, “You complete me.” It’s romantic, heartwarming, even tear-jerking. But it’s also a perfect example of co-dependency.

Feeling incomplete without your partner isn’t a sign of true love. It’s a sign that you’ve lost your sense of self in the relationship.

You are whole all by yourself. You don’t need someone else to complete you or make you feel fulfilled. That’s your job, not your partner’s.

At the end of the day, love should be about enhancement, not completion.

7) Overstepping boundaries

I remember a time when I was always trying to fix things for my partner. Whether it was a problem at work or a fallout with a friend, I felt like it was my responsibility to make things right.

This is another sign of co-dependency: overstepping boundaries. It’s when you find yourself constantly stepping in to solve your partner’s problems, even when they haven’t asked for your help.

What I’ve learned is that everyone needs space to handle their own problems and grow from their experiences. By always stepping in, you’re not giving your partner the chance to learn and grow for themselves.

8) Constantly seeking validation

In a co-dependent relationship, you might find yourself constantly seeking validation from your partner. You might depend on them to make you feel loved, worthy, or good about yourself.

Seeking validation from your partner might make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run, it’s not healthy. It can lead to a cycle of constantly needing reassurance and can strain your relationship.

Remember, your worth is not determined by someone else’s opinion or approval. You are valuable and worthy just as you are—and you don’t need anyone else to validate that.

9) Ignoring red flags

The most crucial thing to remember in any relationship is to never ignore red flags. If your partner is controlling, abusive, or disrespectful, these are glaring signs of an unhealthy relationship.

In those co-dependent relationships, it’s easy to get caught up in a tangled web of excuses and minimizing serious issues. But trust me, sweeping those red flags under the rug is like playing with fire—things are bound to blow up sooner or later.

Always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore the red flags. You deserve a healthy and loving relationship.

Final thoughts: It’s about self-love

When it comes to navigating relationships, there’s a profound connection between our behavior and our sense of self-worth and self-love.

Co-dependent behaviors are often rooted in a lack of self-love. When we don’t value ourselves enough, we tend to seek validation from others, fear abandonment, and neglect our own needs.

But remember this: love should never cost you your peace or your identity.

Whether it’s falling into the trap of constantly seeking validation or feeling incomplete without your partner, these behaviors are signs that you’re losing yourself in the relationship.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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