Ever come home after a long day of work, stressed, tired, and hungry only to find your man on the couch with an empty potato chip bag in his lap, a video-game controller in his hands, and wearing nothing but his underwear? Or has your partner ever walked through the door with a stack of files piled in their arms, eyes tired from meetings all day and shuffling from place to place to find you lounging with a tub of ice cream and perusing Facebook while watching reruns of your favorite television show? There are going to be days like that of course, you and your partner’s lives aren’t going to always be in perfect tandem- but if you find this happening on more occasions than less, it looks like you might have a problem.
Being somewhat addicted to a relationship can blind you from the things that may need some fixing in your relationship- or even to decide not to stay in it any longer- and can range from crazed obsessions with your current (or even past) flame to underlying, quiet, yet deeply seeded and unhealthy needs. Dependency to a certain level in a relationship is natural, healthy, and can be wonderful and isn’t only applicable to work situations- it can center on anything from child rearing, taking care of the home, managing finances on different levels, or organizing daily life. Things should, however, be equal to a certain extent and unfortunately in so many partnerships, this isn’t the case.
In many relationships, particularly when there’s only one person working outside of the home, there can be a shift in responsibility, reliance, and dependence that some couples don’t know how to react to or handle. Co-dependency, or when a couple forms a relationship that feels like neither can survive or stand alone, isn’t necessarily unhealthy; but can have many negative side-effects if matters aren’t addressed immediately such as low self esteem, resentment, and built up frustrations. It is incredibly important to seek and have the support of your partner in life, but it’s just as imperative to remember to be self-reliant and find completion through yourself rather than solely finding validation or purpose through someone else, even if it is your life partner and lover.
Co-dependency, or dependency, within a relationship can be addressed by asking a few basic questions.
- What’s more important to me, this relationship or me as a person?
When loving someone, you do give up parts of yourself or accommodate to make your other half happy- but if you’re not actually feeling happy in the relationship and sacrificing things so that they are pleased, there is something wrong in the dynamic of your relationship.
- What am I giving up to be with this person?
It may be travel, it may be time with friends, time alone, doing things that you like to do and he doesn’t, wearing what you want, eating what you want- it could be anything. If the list of things you have to give up outweighs the positives in your relationship though you may want to step back and think about what you’re doing with this person.
- Are we both giving to this relationship?
Both individuals in the relationship should be giving the same amount of effort into the relationship. If you feel like you are putting in more work into the relationship or your partner is giving more thought than you are, it may be the time to address these things as you move forward.
- Do I value myself without this person?
If you find that you feel you have nothing to offer without your partner, you are indeed in an unhealthy situation. Take measures to build your self-esteem, find your strengths, and feel good about what you can offer the world and your relationship. You cannot truly be happy with anyone until you are happy with yourself.
- Does this person value me?
When you constantly feel belittled, embarrassed, undervalued, or worthless- it’s likely that your partner has something to do with it. If your spouse doesn’t take you seriously or take your thoughts, actions, or feelings into mind you’re in an imbalanced relationship of unhealthy dependency. You may need to take a moment and weigh i f your happiness is linked to this person’s vision of you and how you may need to take action into bringing yourself back up to your right place and feeling.
Once you have figured out the answers to these questions and made your decision, you may want to have your partner ask themselves the same questions. You shouldn’t be with someone because you need them; you should be with them because you want them, to share your life with them. Dramatics in the media are constantly showing lovers declaring “I need you! I love you!” and songs crooning “I need you” are abundant, but remember that needing someone can take away from the root of your relationship. Truly wanting to be with your partner or spouse is stronger than needing them, because what if one day either of you decide you don’t need the other anymore…will the ‘want’ still be there?