4 Signs Your Relationship is Codependent

With the stresses of life, especially in college, it is often hard to tell if your relationship is healthy or not. You may think you and your SO are meant to be (and maybe you are!), but that is not always the case. In order to help you tell if your relationship is codependent, which means you and/or your SO are clinging to each other for certain needs, we’ve talked to Carole Lieberman, M.D., a Beverly Hills psychiatrist. Read on to learn the telltale signs and good luck!

1. You’re only going to each other for comfort

If you’re turning to your SO (or your SO is turning to you) for reassurance you perhaps didn’t receive as a child, you are relying on each other for comfort that you shouldn’t be. “A codependent relationship is one where you (and/or your [SO]) are desperately clinging to the other to fill needs that were never filled by your parents during childhood,” Dr. Lieberman shares. If you’re desperate for love or need to be comforted all the time, there will be no room for the relationship to grow. An SO should be someone you can turn to, but not someone that you need to rely on for happiness.

2. You feel addicted to one another

If you feel like your relationship is addictive, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. “You feel addicted to your [SO] and terrified that [they] will abandon you,” Lieberman says. “It’s not love. It’s unhealthy.” If there is ever a moment that you feel you can’t live without your SO, your relationship may be codependent. You should not be worried about your SO breaking up with you or leaving you for someone else. If your relationship is healthy and happy, that won’t be an issue.

3. Your relationship is taking over your life

If you’re putting your relationship before other important things in your life such as academics, friends or family, you are likely doing damage to your life. “Codependent relationships gradually take over your life because you are willing to do anything and everything to keep your [SO] connected to you,” Lieberman shares. Doing something your SO asks of you even if it’s not what you want to do isn’t a good sign. By putting your SO before everything else, you can compromise your future, relationships and even your health.

Bridget Higgins, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, says, “My ex, who I just recently broke up with after a two-year relationship, definitely affected my relationships with others. He always wanted to hang out, and I found it hard to say no. In short, time with my friends and family got cut so much shorter.” A healthy relationship should be about balance, and you should recognize if your SO is taking away from other important aspects of your life.

Mollie McKinley, a junior at High Point University, shares, “I dated a boy last year who completely tore me away from my friends. I was in a sorority, and he would make me feel like it was the wrong choice. He had me focusing more on him than my academics and other personal relationships.” When you end these kinds of relationships, your happiness will increase and you will be able to enjoy things you truly love again.

4. You’re losing interest but can’t let go

If you are realizing things you dislike about your SO, or they seem less interested in you, it may be a sign that you are staying together for the wrong reasons. “If you realize that there are more and more things that you don’t actually like about your significant other, even though you’re desperate to hold onto [your SO], you have to ask yourself whether you’re using [them] like a pacifier to cope with the stress of college,” Dr. Lieberman says.

“Similarly, if [they seem] to be losing interest in you, checking out other [people] or being less available except when [they want] sex, these are signs that [they have] been using you in the same way,” she adds. “It’s time to end the relationship, and get involved with a sport, or a club or into therapy.” You shouldn’t stay with someone you no longer feel the same way about to use as a stress reliever—find something else that makes you happy.

If you start to realize that your relationship is codependent, it may be time to talk to your SO about what you’d like to change. Rather than automatically end the relationship, here's a list of things to try:

  • Tell your partner that you'd like some space
  • Take a break from the relationship
  • Put aside a few days each week to do things for yourself
  • Find an activity that helps you cope with stress
  • Do something new with your SO

If you’re staying together for the wrong reasons and using one another to cope with the stresses of college, your life won’t improve. You should be in a relationship with mutual effort, love and appreciation for one another. Getting out of a codependent relationship is the best choice for your health and happiness. Stay strong, collegiettes!