8 warning signs you're in a damaging codependent relationship, according to expertsGet the Full StoryRyoji Iwata Follow Unsplash
Codependency might mean slightly different things to different people, but essentially it's when one person is sacrificing more for their relationship than the other.
In romantic relationships, it's when one partner requires excessive attention and psychological support, and often this is partnered with them having an illness or an addiction which makes them even more dependent.
A codependent couple will not be good for each other. Usually, they will get together because one or both of them has a dysfunctional personality, and more often than not they will make each other worse.
For example, people involved with narcissists will find themselves giving and giving, but it's never enough. Their partner will keep moving the goal posts and making unrealistic demands until the victim is completely burned out.
It's important to remember that in a healthy relationship, it's normal to depend on your partner for comfort and support. But there's a balance between each partner's ability to be independent and their ability to enjoy mutual help, and if that balance is off, that's when things get messy.
We asked 8 relationship experts for the warning signs you could be in a codependent relationship. Here's what they said:1. You start filling in the gaps
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"The first sign of codependency creeping into a relationship will involve one person starting to take on the responsibility to keep in touch and connect. As a partner pulls back in how much time, effort, and care they are giving, the other partner instinctively fills in the gap by working harder to stay bonded. As soon as this happens, the relationship has shifted in an unhealthy direction towards codependency."
— Shannon Thomas, therapist and author of "Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse"
2. You want to 'fix' your partner
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"It all starts out like a fairy tale, but then your new partner starts to show some signs of unhealthy behaviors. Do you find yourself making all the sacrifices to support your partner? Do you feel like you lost yourself and you need the approval of your partner to be whole? Healthy relationships are created when both partners have mutual respect, trust, and are always honest with one another. Codependent personalities tend to be people-pleasers, thriving on helping others or even thinking they may 'fix' them . When caring for another person stops you from having your own needs met or if your self-worth is dependent on being needed, you may be heading down the codependent path."
— Tracy Malone, founder of Narcissist Abuse Support
3. You lose all your boundaries
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"One way of looking at a codependent person... is she is an over-giver. She always feels overly responsible for someone or cares too much for someone. She really feels like she needs to keep giving and giving, and overcompensating. These women can be really strong, but the problem is they don't grasp the need for boundaries. Boundaries are actually really useful with people you care about, but in a codependent person's heart, 'boundaries' is a very dirty word. They think 'the moment I care about you, I drop all my boundaries. I let you disrespect me, because I believe you have a story, so I over-explain away every single thing for you.' In other words, you give more credence to their story than to yours. You have to have firm boundaries, because when you don't have them, or you're not aware of them, you fall into the codependent trap."
— Perpetua Neo, psychologist, expert in toxic relationships, and creator of Detox Your Heart
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