Do you find yourself making lots of sacrifices for your partner's happiness, but not getting much in return? If that kind of one-sided pattern sounds like yours, you don't have to feel trapped. There are lots of ways to change a codependent relationship and get your life back on an even keel.
What Is a Codependent Relationship?
The first step in getting things back on track is to understand the meaning of a codependent relationship. Experts say it's a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity. One key sign is when your sense of purpose in life wraps around making extreme sacrifices to satisfy your partner's needs.
How to Know You're in a Codependent Relationship
Watch out for these signs that you might be in a codependent relationship: Are you unable to find satisfaction in your life outside of a specific person? Do you recognize unhealthy behaviors in your partner but stay with him or her in spite of them? Are you giving support to your partner at the cost of your own mental, emotional, and physical health?
Impact of a Codependent Relationship
Giving up your own needs and identity to meet the needs of a partner has unhealthy short-term and long-term consequences. "You can become burned out, exhausted, and begin to neglect other important relationships," Burn says. "And if you're the enabler in a codependent relationship -- meaning you promote the other person's dysfunctions -- you can prevent them from learning common and needed life lessons."
How to Change a Codependent Relationship
Breaking up isn't necessarily the best or only solution. To repair a codependent relationship, it's important to set boundaries and find happiness as an individual, says psychologist Misty Hook, PhD. She recommends that partners talk about and set relationship goals that satisfy them both.