Communication, Codependency & Boundaries
Are you being breadcrumbed by your partner and emotionally unsatisfied in the relationship?
Are you suppressing your own needs to get care and love from a challenging partner?
Do you stay with your partner even though you recognize harmful and unhealthy behavior patterns?
Are you experiencing communication problems and boundary issues in your relationships?
Have you given up your own identity, career, interests, and needs to meet your partner’s needs?
Do you find yourself devoted and sacrificing for your partner at the expense of your self-care, emotional, mental, and physical health?
Codependency is a behavior pattern whereby you allow yourself to depend upon your partner’s approval of your self-worth as a human being and a partner in your relationship. There are effective ways to learn to establish a healthy relationship. Learning how to confidently inform your partner that they have crossed a boundary line within a relationship can be intimidating and scary. Most of us did not learn how to communicate effectively in relationships and lack skills in this critical task.
Effective communication is essential in authentic and clearly stating your thoughts directly, honestly, and with integrity. We often make the mistake of assuming what our partner is feeling and thinking, and we are often wrong in our assumptions.
Do you struggle to communicate effectively?
The lack of communication skills is reflected in the misunderstandings causing arguments and conflicts in a relationship. If we preemptively jump to conclusions, we do not allow our partner to share their thinking and feelings. Likewise, you lose out on the opportunity to create meaning and understand your partner’s perspective and gain new insight and understanding in the situation. Each individual deserves to have honesty, respect, and fairness.
Instead, provide a safe, non-judgmental, and non-blaming space to share information and feelings and view the situation from another perspective. Ask yourself, “Are my actions contributing to the situation”? “What is my part of the problem?”
Being accountable and responsible for your behavior and actions in the situation is an important stepping stone in the process of healthy communication.
Establishing healthy boundaries, maintaining, enforcing, and respecting one another are essential in a relationship. If you feel invisible and find it challenging to communicate your wants, needs, and desires because you believe that no one will listen and worry about how your partner will react, then developing practical communication skills and establishing boundaries can help break the boundaries of codependency in relationships.
· Use ‘I’ statements to share your thoughts and feelings about the situation that you are experiencing.
· Instead of blaming your partner, express what you want to have in this situation positively.
· Provide your partner with a concept of what that would look like so they have a clear picture.
Symptoms of Codependency
Here is a list of symptoms of codependency and being in a codependent relationship.
Avoidant & Anxious Attachment Styles
Codependents experience dysfunctional attachment styles due to unmet and inconsistent needs during infancy and childhood, leading to unhealthy attachment styles in relationships. Often, you may feel anxiety in social events causing feelings of being self-conscious, anxiety, nervousness, and uncomfortable social situations.
Low Self-Worth & Self-Confidence
Feeling that no one will accept you for who you are, not lovable, not good enough, or feeling insecure. You tend to over-give and overwork yourself to be accepted and loved by your partner. You do not feel worthy of being loved and feel that you have to be perfect. You tend to be overly critical of yourself.
Being codependent creates the belief that we do not have the agency and power to say No to our partner. You may sacrifice their desires, wants, and needs to accommodate your partner while ignoring yourself and neglecting self-care.
Boundaries are meant to establish healthy connections between ourselves and others. When these boundary lines are blurred, it becomes hard to distinguish a healthy boundary regarding your emotions, thoughts, and needs feeling overly responsible for your partner’s feelings. You may begin to resent being taken advantage of, and the relationship becomes one-sided, with you giving more than you are receiving in the connection.
When a partner expresses their viewpoints, you tend to take it as a personal attack and overreact by becoming angry and defensive by the diversity of opinions. In a healthy relationship, one can communicate and see various perspectives as alternatives with different perspectives of a situation.
You tend to rush in immediately to resolve your partner’s problems and issues and deprive them of the opportunity to brainstorm and figure it out. Although you may be compassionate and kind and have good intentions in being helpful, your partner may not be open or need your help. As a result, you may feel rejected, unappreciated, and unloved when they do not listen to your suggestions or accept your help.
Being codependent in a relationship limits your ability to leap of faith and risk sharing your feelings. Addictions are common with alcoholism and being a workaholic so that you feel that you have control. You often may feel the need to control your partner and others around you by insisting that they behave in a certain way and placing unrealistic expectations on your partner.
You may find it challenging to communicate and expressing thoughts, feelings, and desires in a relationship. Of course, if you don’t know what you think, feel or need, this becomes a problem. Being honest is difficult because you do not want to offend someone, so you may pretend that you like something when you do not like it. Due to these factors, being authentic and genuine to yourself is complex, and communication becomes dishonest and confusing in a relationship.
As a codependent, you may find yourself spending time fantasizing about the relationship and what you would like it to be. Moreover, you may be analyzing and overthinking your partner and causing anxiety, depression, worry, and fear in catastrophizing situations.
Often, there is a real fear of being abandoned by your lover or partner regardless of being independent and taking care of yourself. Being rejected by a partner may cause you to feel depression or loneliness when alone and without a relationship partner. Due to these thoughts and behavior patterns, you may feel trapped in an unsatisfying and unfilling relationship making it extremely difficult to end a dysfunctional, emotionally unsatisfying, and disappointing relationship.
Being codependent often entails believing that the problem lies with your partner and not taking accountability for your contribution. You may want to complain about the situation or try to change your partner. If that does not work, then you may move on to another relationship. Sometimes, it may swing in the other direction, where you want to be independent and deny your needs for a caring and loving relationship. Often, though codependents will cater to their partner’s needs, neglect their desires, and neglect time for themselves.
Emotional Intimacy Issues
You may experience difficulty with being authentic, transparent, and close with your partner in an intimate relationship. You may become fearful that you will be ridiculed, judged, and rejected, or you may be scared that you will be engulfed and lose your autonomy and independence. You may become detached and distant with your partner, believing that your partner makes unreasonable demands for your attention, care, and love. Your partner may complain that they are always alone and that you do not create quality time together. You may feel conflicted in wanting a partner and relationship and wanting to have autonomy and freedom.
The first step for treating codependency is obtaining individual therapy with guidance and support to help change these dysfunctional patterns into healthy behaviors. These codependency symptoms are deeply embedded maladaptive habits. However, therapy can help identify and challenge codependency and provide effective treatment to establish healthy, meaningful, and satisfying relationships.
Co-dependency. (n.d.) http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/co-dependency.
Morgan Jr, J. P. (1991, September). What is codependency?. Journal of clinical psychology, 47(5), 720–729 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1097-4679(199109)47:5%3C720::AID-JCLP2270470515%3E3.0.CO;2-5/full.
Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence. (n.d.) http://coda.org/index.cfm/meeting-materials1/patterns-and-characteristics-2011/.
Seltzer, L. F. )2014). Codependent or simply dependent: What’s the big difference? https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201412/codependent-or-simply-dependent-what-s-the-big-difference.