Codependency is when you rely on someone else in a relationship to make you happy or fix your problems.
It’s extremely common and it can sink even the strongest love connection.
But there’s hope: codependency can be overcome and you can still have a happy relationship despite codependent tendencies.
11 dating tips for codependents
1) Take self-responsibility
One of the hallmarks of codependency is a refusal to take self-responsibility.
You want someone else to come in and make your life complete. To be there for you when you’re down, to celebrate with you when you’re up.
In short: you want someone else to fill the various roles you have planned out and hoped for them to fill.
As the world-renowned shaman, Rudá Iandê explains in his groundbreaking free masterclass on finding true love and intimacy, often codependent people fall into a pattern of becoming a “savior” or a “victim,” doing everything they can to live up to these roles and self-sabotaging their happiness in the process.
The common feature in codependent people? A refusal to take self-responsibility.
The solution? Fully accepting that nobody else is responsible for your happiness and life fulfilment.
Date from that starting point and everything will become much easier.
2) Face childhood trauma
Childhood trauma is often at the root of codependent behavior.
This can include neglect, abandonment, physical and sexual abuse and more.
The damage done to us as youngsters doesn’t just “fade away” and in many cases, it becomes reinforced and repeated in stressful and disappointing romantic scenarios.
Codependency is essentially a feeling of inadequacy.
We feel “not good enough” and find partners who can fit into that emotional chasm and give us that drip of emotional morphine that we’ve become hooked on.
Obviously facing childhood trauma is easier said than done and the search for inner peace is no easy journey.
But being willing to face it through therapy, self-work, and beginning to face those waves of pain is the first and all-important step toward healing and integrating the “shadow” so that it can become your ally instead of a silent saboteur that keeps resurfacing to ruin your life.
3) Don’t put your partner on a pedestal
Don’t put your partner on a pedestal. They’re only human!
One of the most important dating tips for codependents is to realize that none of us is perfect and no woman or man will come along to sweep you off your feet like a Hollywood film.
Even if you meet someone who you have a very strong emotional and physical bond with, there are going to be challenges and frustrations and even times when you wonder if they’re the “right” person for you.
Don’t put your partner on a pedestal and go out into the dating world with an open mind.
Instead of thinking about how you can fix or save someone else or how they can fix or save you, think about how you can both bring great things to the table and complement each other.
All of us have different strengths and weaknesses, and that’s a good thing!
Cooperation, not codependency!
4) Caring is different than obligation
Caring about someone is healthy and beneficial.
It’s nice to know that somebody has affection for you and is interested in your wellbeing.
But feeling like you are obligated to care about someone or “prove” you care about them is far different.
If you have codependent tendencies and want to succeed in dating and have a healthy relationship then my best advice is to fully absorb the difference between caring and obligation.
I’ll be honest: it can be a fine line.
After all, relationships and marriages do involve some responsibilities, but it’s the same thing as I wrote before: nobody is responsible for your happiness or wellbeing but you.
Their voluntary choice to care for and love you is just that…their choice!
5) Encourage your partner to pursue their interests
One of the most vital dating tips for codependents is to avoid being a hog on your partner’s time and schedule. You should not be tagging along to everything with them or doing everything together.
It’s healthy and good to have your own interests, passions, and schedules.
Spending time together or going out is great but don’t try to copy everything your significant other does, or get them onboard with everything you love.
It’s OK to have your own interests and passions that you pursue and have scheduled in at your own times that work for you.
Encourage your partner to pursue his or her interests:
This is an active way to avoid becoming actively codependent in what you do every day, which only makes the emotional codependency even worse.
6) Become more self-sufficient
Becoming more self-sufficient is one of the best dating tips for codependents that I know.
Honestly, it’s great advice for everyone in life and in life…
Self-sufficiency isn’t only helpful in a relationship, it’s also helpful if (or should I say when) a relationship breaks up and doesn’t stand the test of time.
If you’re dating this is especially likely that someone you’ve seen a few times will ghost you or won’t pan out into something more serious. And this can be seriously upsetting.
But if you’ve become a more self-sufficient person you can bounce back with much more resilience.
Like philosopher and life coach Erik Paskal writes:
“If you’re codependent, the end of that relationship will devastate and destroy you. But if you’re self-sufficient, as painful as the end of a relationship or a life situation may be, you can let it go, and fly to a new branch. You have yourself, and you are in control of your own mind, thoughts, and emotions.”
7) Boost your self-esteem
Many articles will tell you to boost your self-esteem through positive self-talk, Law of Attraction ideas, vision boards, and all the rest of that…
But I’m not going to go down that route.
Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have some good self-talk going on and frame reality in a win-win way so that you start noticing opportunities instead of drawbacks.
But if you want to really boost your self-esteem you need to get beyond your thoughts and emotions.
How? By proving your worth to yourself.
Instead of telling yourself you’re a great painter and that you have great creativity and potential in yourself and watching documentaries on painters, get out a brush and start!
Even if you suck at first, you want to prove to your deep subconscious that you’ve got a lot of walks, not just talk.
By doing breathwork and improving the bridge between your autonomic and somatic nervous system you will also achieve amazing things.
I highly recommend checking out the free Ybytu Breathwork Masterclass.
8) Know your limit and stay within it
The thing about boundaries is that they’re easy to have until you have to actually put them into action.
“I’d never bail my boyfriend out of jail after he beat someone up while drunk!”
“There’s no way you’d see me trying to talk my girlfriend down from self-harm at 4:30 a.m. when she says I don’t support her enough and that’s why she’s suicidal and I know I have to wake up at 6 a.m. to go to work.”
But then the actual situation happens and you find yourself doing things… just like that — or even worse!
The solution is to set boundaries and then actually follow them.
So, how do you set boundaries and actually follow them?
My advice is to start small. No potato chips after 9 p.m. Then bigger: no potato chips at all…
Then go from there to eventually no emotionally depending on and gaslighting your partner.
9) Accept the limits of your control
One of the hardest things for any of us to do in our relationships is to accept the limits of our control. This is especially true of codependent daters.
If I had to say one of the most important dating tips for codependents, it would be to do everything you can to accept the limits of your control.
One of the best ways to do this is to think about the last time that trying to force other people to do things your way turned out well.
You’re going to realize it was…never. And those who often do bend to our wills like family and close friends only do it out of their love for us and are often far more hurt than we realize by our egotism and lack of consideration.
There’s just a very narrow range of things which can be controlled and the main one is gaining control over yourself.
It’s no small feat, either!
10) Have role models
It’s always a good idea to have role models and one of the best pieces of advice I can give in terms of dating tips for codependents is to have someone you look up to.
Maybe it’s your dad, or your church pastor, or your childhood sports hero. Pick someone with the kind of romantic life you’d love to have.
Then model yourself after them, and become the guy or girl you always dreamed of being.
As Rosemary Brennan writes, we all need a love role model:
“For me, it’s always been my grandparents. They’ve been married for 52 years and are still absolutely crazy for each other. Growing up, I knew I wanted a relationship like theirs, one that was all about friendship, respect and of course, love.”
11) What do you want?
And speaking of love role models, you have to know what you want.
Think about it:
If you met the guy or gal of your dreams but you didn’t realize they were then you could end up letting them go without ever knowing they were your best shot at a life of love.
But even more likely is just that if you don’t really know what you want you’ll end up having a hot dog romance life:
A little bit of everything thrown in, blended up, dashed with some ketchup and mustard, and pushed in between your buns.
It might taste good at the moment, but long term it’s probably going to mess up your digestion. And let’s not even think about everything that’s in that hot dog.
Plus, even if a hot dog is all you want, at least being fairly specific about the quality of it and the toppings will ensure you end up getting something worth your time.
Codependency can seem like a lonely life sentence but it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re a codependent person that doesn’t make you “less than,” “damaged” or “bad.”
It just means you have certain challenges to deal with, whereas another person may have totally different issues such as egotism or narcissistic manipulativeness.
You’re not destined to live a life of isolation or rejection, and many codependent people have amazing personalities, attractive traits, and all sorts of love to give their partner.
It’s really just a matter of slightly reframing the way codependents approach to love and intimacy and realizing that nobody else can fix or complete your life, and even the ideal partner will have bad days.
None of us is going to win the perfect love lottery and even if we do, life is short and the perfect lovers always have one who dies first.
Cheery though, right?
In any case, following the above steps will set you on the right path to self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and a healthy search for love.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting love and intimacy, but we just have to remember that the primary person who can give us the care and attention we want is always us ourselves.