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  • Amelia Harshfield

what's it like to be codependent?

Updated: Apr 21

There is a lot of information about the technicalities of being codepedent, but I've noticed they don't go into what it feels like. It's an important part of the process because it usually makes you understand your situation better. It also can make you feel heard and understood with this challenge of being codependent. It might lead to less confusion about what you are going through and seem more normal. These are crucial steps in the path of healing.


First, what does it mean to be codependent? It means you get a gauge of your self-worth from others, most likely your partner. So if they aren't happy with you then you likely have low self-worth and believe you have little value. Not everyone with codependency has the same situation nor experiences the same things. So below is not an entire snapshot of your situation. But it is some of the points about how co-dependency can make you feel.


Having codependency means you can find it difficult to relax around people and your partner. It's like you are always waiting on your partner to be happy, however, there is always something else they aren't okay with. So you're waiting for the other shoe to drop with them. Because you can't predict the next issue coming, you may feel like have to be on guard for all the things that can go wrong. When you are in these situations it's extremely stressful for you and your body. Your body is essentially in fight or flight mode. To feel what that does to your body (which you might not be aware it's doing), take a couple of deep breaths and relax. Now think of things going wrong for your partner, their irritation, and anger with it. How is your body responding now to it? Can you feel it tightening? How your body feels is a great indicator of what is going on inside. So tune in and see how you are physically feeling. Do you like this feeling? How often are you feeling it?



Additionally, you probably feel like you are to blame for the things that go wrong with your partner. You might not feel like you can be yourself, speak your mind, and have a different opinion or interest from them. They might express their frustration with you having these differences. If you say the wrong thing or make them unhappy, you often assume you have to deal with their emotions. That further leads to you being anxious around them and feeling like you can't be your full self.


You say yes to your partner more than you should, while struggling to say no. You likely have a hard time saying no to your partner. You may be a source of lots of 'yes'es. You may not know what boundaries are or how to set one. You might believe if you say no to someone that will hurt or be painful to them. You probably become burnt out because you don't understand what you need from yourself and what you need from others. You may not understand it's important to put yourself first and that your needs matter. You likely learned to put other's needs first. This can lead to you being completely worn out and tired of taking care of everyone's needs before your own. All of that can lead to resentment towards the people you are saying yes to. You may wonder "how can they not see all the work and effort you are putting into the relationship? They hardly put the same amount of energy into the relationship."


All the effort you put into others without practicing healthy boundaries probably leads to you feeling alone in the relationship. Healthy relationships are mutually beneficial, meaning both partners put effort into the relationship and receive benefits being in it. In dysfunctional relationships, love is not mutually reciprocated between the partners for various reasons. Those with codependent behavior often attract those who cannot or aren't interested in meeting their needs. The codependent partner can end up feeling left out and alone. They're doing so much and getting little in return.


It's important to understand that you're not alone with how you feel. There are others with the same challenges. What you need to understand is there are healthier ways of functioning and you can have the relationship you want. You just need to learn new behavior. It takes time and being ok with failing forward.


If you are interested in learning more about how to become free from codependency and become more of who you really are, join our Facebook Group: Find Freedom. It's an interactive, positive, and supportive group. We would love to have you!


Photo credit: IB Wira Dyatmika on Unsplash



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