The timeless adage that “no man is an island” simply means that as human beings, we do not do well or flourish when isolated from others. This concept goes well beyond the first relationship we experience when we are born with our parents or guardians(which is one of complete dependence, in case you were wondering), and more into the types of relationships we have throughout our lives. Or another way of looking at it is the relationships we chose for ourselves.
For most, the average life is filled with hundreds, if not thousands of different relationships. Some of these will be personal friends, work associates, gym acquaintances, doctor and patient, parental, spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, familial, and the man who serves you your coffee every morning – the list goes on. However, while each of those relationships ultimately provides you with something, as most people can testify, not all relationships are created equal. And in some instances, being in a relationship can be just downright unhealthy. Welcome to the frightening world of the codependent relationship.
Although not the only type of unhealthy relationship a person could find themselves in, a codependent one is most certainly among the worst. Originally coined as a way to describe people who were in a relationship with an addict, the term has since been broadened to include any type of dysfunctional helping relationship in which one party enables and even supports the others negative behavior.
Typically, a codependent relationship is characterized by being one-sided, with one person relying on the other for all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. Sadly, codependency is learned behavior, and is of the nature that it can easily be the past down from one generation to the next; that is until the behavior is first recognized, and secondly, stopped. Which begs the question – how would you know you’re in a codependent relationship? Fortunately, we have an answer to that question.
When a relationship starts, it can be a wonderfully sweet thing to witness. Usually, in its infancy, that most couples find themselves wanting to spend every moment with one another. They text each other as soon as they wake and right before they go bed. And for a while, making time for them, to see them, and to do things with them is your number one priority. And you know what, there is nothing wrong with that. This is completely normal at the start of most every relationship. However, in time, usually this “unbridled affection and attention” tapers off, and the two parties find themselves in a more comfortable, confident, and assured situation. But what happens when that doesn’t stop?
The hallmark characteristic of a codependent relationship is that one person is dependent on the other for all of their emotional support and validation. As such, it only stands to reason that if you are dependent on one person for such an essential feeling, you would want to cling to them for dear life - but that’s the problem. Are you constantly texting your partner, nervous when they don’t respond, do you follow them around, spend hours on their social media accounts, are you overly accommodating to your partner? If so, then chances are you are being incredibly clingy and likely are ok with that. Which in and of itself should be an indicator that you are in a toxic relationship.