eTop 5 Codependent Relationship Mistakes

We learned not to trust ourselves and instead to trust someone else’s opinion of us over our own, often spawning a lifetime of people-pleasing from our insecure attachment.

Some scholars and relationship science nerds suggest that we spend a lifetime trying to heal our attachment wounds through dating and romantic relationships.

Let’s go over five of the biggest issues or challenges for us in dating or romantic/love/sex relationships from our codependent thinking.

  • Chameloning — aka losing yourself or giving yourself away and becoming someone you’re not to try to people please
  • People pleasing

In interdependent relationships, your partner wants you to want what you want and wants to hear that from you, and vice versa.

  • Staying in a shitty situation:
  • We don’t value ourselves.
  • Again, not victim blaming, just sayin it because it’s true — it sure was for me! We don’t believe that we can have good things, real love, to be really seen and cherished and cared for, so we take the crumbs, the scraps, the person who says “I want to date you” instead of asking ourselves if we really want to date them.
  • We dont value ourselves enough to realize that we deserve better than a relationship where there is constant fighting, name calling, negation of our feelings, lousy communication, no sex, no intimacy, where we aren’t being loved the way we need to be, where we are doing most of the labor — domestic, emotional… on and on.
  • We just continue to put up with it because we learned to be really good at swimming in dramatic seas, living in chaos, and being unhappy or not having joy has gotten so normalized that we just keep on keeping on and don’t pause to say “I matter enough to me to leave a relationship that isn’t working for me.” We often don’t trust our intuition or discernment enough to acknowledge in a real way that a relationship isn’t working for us, so we stay in it instead of risking being wrong and making a mistake in leaving.

When there is gaslighting in a relationship, we get convinced that there either isn’t a problem or that we alone are the problem and so we stay because why would we leave if we are the problem.

  • Sunk costs effect.
  • When you’ve invested so much time and energy in a relationship you don’t want to leave because you’ve sunk so much into it already.
  • Fear of being alone or believing there couldn’t be anything better out there for you.
  • Low standards for yourself and how you deserve to be treated, which can go along with gaslighting or not, it can also be part of your own story coming into the relationship.
  • We also stay for structural reasons (economic, social, religious, fear of violence for leaving someone abusive or unkind, fear of losing community).
  • People pleasing we don’t want to disappoint others — which can sound like “our parents would be so upset if we split, or “what about the kids.”
  • Fear of ‘failure.’
  • Fear of change and uncertainty.
  • Narcissistic abuse.
  • As a clinician, I want to say that while IG makes it sound like everyone and your mother is a for reals diagnosable narcissist, it’s actually a very small percentage of the population that truly has narcissistic personality disorder. Some degree of narcissistic traits are more common and worth noting because codependent and narcissism often go together. The codependent wants to focus on someone else and the narcissist wants attention and the narcissist will play all kinds of mind games to keep you locked in.
  • Not seeing red flags/settling/ignoring your intuition because having someone say “I choose you” is more important than you choosing them:
  • When someone picks you, it feels amazing. Especially when you’ve not felt chosen in life, by your family of origin, because you’re from a marginalized community, because you’re queer or trans.
  • Remember a dopamine hit is an anticipatory hit. So every date or text becomes an opportunity to get that hit of delicious, amazing dopamine and validation even if you’re not really into the other person, that hit that makes your brain say “Yay, I’m worthy of love for 90 seconds!” Those feelings can override our connection with our intuition and discernment, can override that quiet voice inside that doubts the connection, that isn’t that into the person you’re dating, that voice that is trying to tell you to slow your roll. It gets steamrolled by that part that just wants to feel loved. I totally get that, it’s totally understandable, and darling — it does not serve you. It is another way that we stay out of our intentionality, and that never ends well.

5. Not choosing yourself and choosing false comfort of a relationship versus intimacy with self — not be comfortable being alone.

Dating or being in a relationship from that place is asking someone to do work that they have no business doing, strengthening our codependent reliance on others to make us feel safe instead of learning how to do it for ourselves and then looking to others to interdependently co-regulate with us.

What to do about it

Awareness:

Learn to be ok being alone

If you’re in a committed relationship you don’t want to leave, you don’t have to put your spouse on the Titanic and walk away.

Learning what you actually want and practicing saying that out loud

Learning to trust yourself and tune into your intuition

Developing the tools of sitting in the discomfort of being real and honest with yourself

Ask yourself why you want to date this person or stay in your relationship.

  • Is it really for you or to keep your date or others happy?
  • Are you avoiding anything by staying in this relationship?
  • Are there any patterns from your past you see repeating here?
  • Are you able to be yourself fully in this relationship or are you still hiding parts of you?
  • Do you feel emotionally and physically safe in this relationship?
  • Are you being heard and seen, loved and attuned to, cherished and cared about?
  • Are you putting in more effort than the other person is?
  • Is there more fighting and turmoil than there is joy?

Ask yourself what your most loving parent, the one inside you that only wants what is truly best for you always, thinks about your current situation, be it casually dating, a relationship, a marriage.

  • Does this relationship serve you in a deep way?
  • Are you showing up with an open heart?
  • Are you being met with an open heart?
  • Are you growing and is your partner growing too?

Listen in for the answers, and know this, now and always: you were born 100% worthy of love and care, and you never have to prove it or settle for relationships where you aren’t being treated like the magical wonderful human you are.

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Victoria Albina, NP, MPH

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a certified life coach, breathwork facilitator, holistic Nurse Practitioner and host of the podcast Feminist Wellness.