Is all your energy directed towards meeting your partner's needs? Are you the only one making sacrifices for your relationship? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? You may be codependent.
Codependency describes a one-sided, dysfunctional relationship where one person relies on the other to meet all their emotional needs. It also describes a relationship where one person enables the other to maintain their addictive, irresponsible, or self-sabotaging behavior.
To define codependency, first we must separate it from interdependent relationships. Having dependency needs is not unhealthy. In an interdependent relationship, each party can rely on the other for understanding, support, and comfort. At the same time, each party remains self-sufficient and maintains an identity apart from their relationship.
Codependent relationships occur when one party is overdependent on the other (the codependent). Codependents want to be needed, and only feel good about themselves when they are sacrificing for their partners. Without being depended upon, they feel alone, inadequate, and unworthy.
A key sign of codependency is when one party's sole purpose in life is to make extreme sacrifices in order to satisfy the other party's needs. Other symptoms can be a low self-esteem, an inability to say no, poor boundaries, problems with intimacy, care-taking, denial, painful emotions, and anxiety.
The consequences of codependency can include burnout, exhaustion, neglect of other important relationships, and enabling, i.e. preventing the other party from getting the help they need.