Are you feeling overwhelmed and unable to get everything done? Maybe you have a hard time telling people “No.” If so, then it may be time to explore the symptoms of codependency. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the common signs of codependency, as well as tips for recovering from codependency.
1. People Pleasing
People-pleasing is one of the most common symptoms of codependency, and occurs when someone is unable to say no to people or requests, despite feeling uncomfortable. People-pleasing may lead to a sense of guilt and anxiety when it comes to making decisions, and can even result in a person becoming completely burnt out trying to satisfy others. When people-pleasing has crossed the line into codependency, it can lead to a range of damaging emotional and mental effects, including feelings of anger and resentment, depression, hopelessness, and despair.
Neglecting to assert your boundaries, preferences and desires in your relationships signals to both others and yourself that you are not worthy of having anything “your way.”
2. Difficulty Making Decisions
One codependency symptom is difficulty making decisions. You may have problems figuring out your own feelings, or have very porous emotions, resulting in a lack of decision-making skills. A codependent will leave details up to everyone else, to avoid being responsible for upsetting anyone with their preferences. They may end up polling friends before making decisions because they don’t trust their own judgement. Additionally, they may feel an extreme need for approval from their partner, friends and colleagues, and may become dependent on them for appreciation.
3. Fear of Being Alone
For those suffering from codependency, they may feel they cannot be content without the presence of another person. They may feel despondent if they have to spend time alone. Codependents also have a tendency to stay in relationships with toxic or abusive people, often feeling that they shouldn’t let others down, or that they are not worthy of two-sided relationships.
Everyone should prioritize their own self-care, which includes healthy alone time, as well as time for hobbies and other enriching activities. Codependents often sacrifice this time and instead dedicate it to others or engage in numbing activities like doomscrolling that help them avoid their painful feelings.
4. Avoiding Confrontation
It can be difficult to stand up for yourself in an argument, especially if you’re in a codependent relationship. Codependents often avoid confrontation because they’re afraid of being judged or rejected. As a result, they may not express their opinions or feelings even when it is appropriate, leaving them feeling unfulfilled and unheard. While it is important to be able to express yourself and have your needs met, it is also important to remember that arguments do not always have to be negative. They are often a healthy way to express emotions, set boundaries at work and at home, and come to an understanding with people.
5. Oversharing / Feeling the Need to Check in Constantly
Codependents may constantly check their phones in anticipation of messages from their partner or friends. They also tend to over-disclose information early in a relationship, ramping up intimacy before they are sure they are able to trust someone.
6. Trouble Identifying Your Emotions
People who are codependent often confuse the emotions of others as their own, and have trouble tapping into what they are feeling. They often have difficulty recognizing how they feel and what their needs and wants are. Codependents may even feel guilty for having these needs, or find it hard to express them. They may have forgotten all their important goals and dreams in life, having prioritized those of their partner or family.
7. Elevating the Needs of Others Above Your Own
Elevating the needs of others above your own is one of the most telling signs of codependency. If you are consistently sacrificing your own needs for the benefit of someone else, it is likely that you are in a codependent relationship. It is important to take time for yourself and prioritize your own needs in order to maintain a healthy relationship with both yourself and others. If you find yourself in a situation where you are constantly putting your own needs on the back-burner, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship dynamics.
8. Controlling Behaviors and Fear
Controlling behaviors are also a common codependency symptom. These behaviors often stem from an underlying fear of abandonment, rejection, or betrayal. Sensitive people try to control the reactions or actions of others in order to ease their own discomfort or anxiety. A codependent person may spend a lot of time thinking about what others think (but haven’t said) and how to change others. They may also engage in many passive-aggressive or manipulative acts including guilt trips in order to get their way.
You can learn more about how to break out of these behaviors by understanding the Karman Drama Triangle. This is a behavioral model which describes different roles played out in relationships that enable unhealthy drama to continue. The Power of TED book explains this concept simply.
9. Feelings of Anger and Resentment, Depression, Hopelessness
The other symptoms of codependency can lead to a host of negative feelings, such as anger and resentment, depression, hopelessness, and despair. Codependents often see themselves as the victim in their relationships because they are unable to confront issues head on or deal with their feelings and preferences directly in relationships.
When the feelings become too overwhelming, it can lead to a feeling of numbness, which can be a sign of emotional exhaustion. It is important to acknowledge these feelings, and seek help from a professional if needed. With the help of an experienced therapist, it is possible to learn how to cope with these feelings in healthier ways.
Does this Sound like You?
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, it may be time to assess your relationships and think about how you can address your codependency in order to have healthier and more fulfilling relationships in the future.
- Recovering from codependence can take many years. Talk to a therapist or counselor to get help with this process.
- Join a women’s circle for healing with other women in a supportive environment, or a support group for codependency such as CODA.
- Work with a coach to learn how to tap back into your desires, emotions and preferences while bringing boundaries back into your relationships.
- Read to educate yourself on the Family of Origin issues that contribute to codependence and ways to heal.
- My post I don’t know what I want anymore has some tips on how to address codependency on your own.
- Learn more about self-care in my post A Shower is Not Self-Care and What is Grounding?