Signs of Codependency, Not Authentic Love
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not designed to objectively suggest that if you or your significant other is having experience of the following thoughts or behaviours, that they are codependent. These examples are supported by research and are referenced in the reference list at the end of the article. If you, your partner to somebody you know, suspects that they may be in a codependent relationship, then it is important to signpost them to speak to somebody about how they are feeling.
Have you ever stop to think about whether what you’re feeling in your relationship is genuine? Do you or your partner exhibit behaviours which challenge the authenticity of your relationship? Perhaps you are thinking in a certain way which has you questioning your true feelings for your significant other?
This article explores some examples of what people may think or experience as a result of being in a codependent relationship compared to those who are experiencing authentic love. These examples are designed to give an insight and not objective fact about what everybody may experience nor is it to discredit that if you are having codependent thoughts, that you are not genuinely in love with another person.
What codependent may sound like : I need you and you need me. I cannot live without you and I know that you cannot live without me.
What an authentic love may sound like: I chose to be in a relationship with you in the same way that you chose to be in a relationship with me. I enjoy being in your company and appreciate spending time with you however I am also happy having my alone time. I do not rely on you alone to make me happy.
It goes without saying that in order for a relationship to be considered codependent, there has to exist a level of dependency either from one person or both parties involved. Making somebody else feel responsible for your happiness and your wellbeing is a form of emotional manipulation. Choice is an important factor in any relationship. When individuals feel that they are making a choice in any relationship, this promotes autonomy and allows an individual to feel that they have a sense of control. When people do not feel like they have a choice, this causes pressure and can cause individuals to feel ‘trapped’ or that they cannot actively be in control of what is happening in their relationships. People should be in relationships with each other because they WANT to and not because they feel that they NEED too. Dependency limits both people involved (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021).
What codependent may sound like: I need you to feel okay otherwise I will not be okay.
What authentic love may sound like: You are your own person and are allowed to experience feelings without judgment from me.
Peoples feelings should not be dependent on others and to enforce this, it could come across as emotional manipulation. Individuals should be free to experience their own emotions and feelings without being made to feel that their mood or how they are feeling is indicative of how their partner feels or that they SHOULD be okay in order for their partner to be as well. When your identity is based solely on ‘people pleasing’ others and you feel responsible for everyone’s wellbeing, you might find yourself reacting to situations rather than acting out of your own volition (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021)
What codependency may sound like: You should know what I need. If I have to explain it to you, then you clearly don’t listen to me or understand me properly.
What an authentic love may sound like: I will communicate my needs to you openly and not just expect you to know what I need.
A codependent mindset makes it hard to communicate effectively as the people are often unaware of their own wants and needs and when people are aware, they may be reluctant to express them (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021). Dishonesty can also develop as a habit by which people are more interested in maintaining a sense of control than actually communicating. In order for any relationship to be successful, individuals must learn to communicate honestly and effectively.
What codependency may sounds like: If you do not support me, I will guilt trip you so you understand that I am not happy.
What authentic love may sound like: I will ask for support from you and others when I need it. I will not take my anger out on you if you cannot support me in the way that I need at the time.
Stress can play a huge factor in any relationship; especially when there are communication and boundary issues. Codependent partners may feel insecure about being abandoned, being alone and not being supported by their respective partner. As a result, they may end up taking their frustration out on their partners and blaming them unnecessarily which can cause stress between partners.
What codependency may sound like: I will blame and shame you for not doing what I want you to do.
What authentic love may sound like: I respect your boundaries and will do my best to discuss them with you if I overstep them. In the same way, I will inform you about my boundaries and communicate how I want to be treated and spoken to.
People in both roles in a codependent relationship tend to have problems recognising, respecting, and reinforcing boundaries (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021). Having boundaries is about having respect for each other and also recognising that individuals are not responsible for other peoples’ happiness. Setting and maintaining boundaries is an important skill which cannot be ignored in any relationship.
What codependency may sound like: You would do what I asked if you truly loved me.
What authentic love may sound like: I understand that there will be times when we disagree on things but that does not dictate whether you love me or not. We will communicate those differences openly and resolve any differences with love and respect.
Typically, neither person in a codependent relationship has very good self-esteem (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021). This will often involve seeking approval or validation from others and wanting to have a sense of purpose. If these factors are not met, then this can lead to further insecurity, controlling behaviour and emotional manipulation.
What codependency may sound like: I need to feel wanted and needed by you. I don’t feel valued by you if you don’t show me that.
What authentic love may sound like: I am valued and worthy without needing approval from others. My role is to be a supportive partner, not a therapist or to try and fix other peoples’ problems.
One of the major signs of codependency is either feeling a sense of responsibility towards others to take care of them or to expect others to take on that role towards us. An example of this may stem from childhood, when the caretaker learns there may be negative consequences from failing to take care of a parent’s needs (Fort Behavioural Health, 2021). This fear of something bad happening causes people to take care of others rather than it being out of genuine affection which may indicate codependency.
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Behavioural Health, F. (2022). 9 Warning Signs of a Codependent Relationship. Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://www.fortbehavioral.com/addiction-recovery-blog/9-warning-signs-of-a-codependent-relationship/