Codependency Counseling: Struggling to Feel Wanted
Codependency is excessive emotional reliance on someone else. It can put a strain on relationships. It can cause a separation of your own thoughts and feelings, pushing them aside simply to keep other people happy. In this article, we’ll take a look at various signs of examples of codependent relationships, plus consider some treatment options including codependency counseling.
Examples of Codependent Relationships
Here are several examples of what codependency looks like in relationships.
Sarah feels like she must do everything with other people. She was abandoned by her parents at a young age. When her friends go to the bathroom, she must follow quickly behind because she is afraid they might talk about her behind her back. When her fiancé talks to a woman, she feels the need to walk up and assert her title and make her presence known.
When someone says, “I need to talk to you,” she immediately begins to sweat and is overwhelmed with the potential conversation that lies ahead. When her boss says she did “okay” on a project, she immediately gets down on herself, assuming that her work was subpar and unappreciated.
Bobby has been married for five years. He grew up in an abusive home and automatically finds himself in the driver’s seat of his relationships and situations. He feels the need to always know where his wife is. He follows her around the house and attends every event with her. He likes to read through her text messages when she is not around her phone to make sure she is not cheating on him.
Tina has been dating Dan for three years but is uncertain why Dan has not proposed. She is constantly working to do anything and everything to keep Dan happy because she cannot bear the thought of living life without him. She never argues, even when she does not agree with him.
Codependency can feed into your relationships, causing you to fall apart easily at the first sign of struggle. Codependency can stem from childhood abandonment, abuse, anxiety, depression, stress, or a variety of other factors.
Signs of Codependent Behavior
Here are a few warning signs of codependent behavior:
You are constantly seeking assurance. Initially, assurance-seekers might harmlessly want to hear they are loved, but it can eventually become necessary to hear certain validating statements to find happiness and confidence in who you are. For an individual who is told everything is his or her fault as a child, he or she might eventually crave and need to hear that he or she is loved and appreciated in order to function.
Simple statements, such as the following, may indicate constantly seeking assurance:
“Do you love me?”
“Are you going to ever cheat on me?”
“Are you mad at me right now?”
If you feel like you cannot function without your significant other or friends validating you, this is in indicator that your relationship might not be healthy or is heading toward an unhealthy direction. Everyone wants to hear that they are loved, beautiful, and important; however, one cannot fall apart at the thought of not constantly hearing it. It should not be the “gas” that keeps your car moving.
You feel the need to take care of everyone’s problems. If you are obsessed with ensuring everyone else is happy, it might be an indicator that you are dealing with codependency. While we should all work to care for the needs of others, we cannot endlessly work to ensure their happiness.
Emotions need to be felt. Struggle is a part of life and relationships. If you are constantly saying, “Tell me what to do. I will do anything to make you happy right now,” it might be time to examine your relationship habits and sense of self-worth.
You are obsessed with other people’s opinions and relationships. Perhaps you find yourself desperately needing likes on social media photos to feel beautiful. Maybe you long for the day when your mom or dad says they are proud of you and are working tirelessly because you must hear it.
Maybe you constantly tell yourself you will be happy when you get the promotion, or you base your happiness off the emotions and accolades of your spouse. Basing your happiness and joy off someone else’s opinion is a slippery slope. Your life might always feel like a roller coaster if you constantly base your value in the opinions of other people or things.
You let go of your own ideas and beliefs just to make other people happy. If you find yourself doing things you know are immoral and you are compromising who you are and what you believe, it might be an indicator that some relational reflection needs to take place. You can have healthy relationships and have a difference of opinion. You can have a good marriage and talk about what you really believe and feel.
You are terrified of conflict. You might refuse to set boundaries. Perhaps you just follow what other people say because you are afraid that they might leave at the first sign of a disagreement. You might find yourself always in the backseat of conversations and close relationships because all you want it to keep everyone happy.
This might be an indication that there is something to address below the surface. Trying to avoid conflict is good, but sacrificing who you really are and what you believe can be dangerous.
If you are struggling with low self-esteem, have been abandoned, and always feel the need to be needed, know that you are not alone. You do not have to compromise who you are and what you believe to have good and healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships are not perfect ones. In fact, healthy relationships can get messy because they dig into the nitty-gritty of thoughts, feelings, and trauma. They dream together, cry together, celebrate the triumphs, and hold hands through the disappointments of life.
If you are struggling to find validation because of something you have been through, know that God sees your past, thoughts, feelings, and loves you for who you are. He wants to hold your hand through your journey. He wants to bring you out of the pits of despair and see you dancing, singing, and enjoying life.
If you are struggling with a sense of value and self-worth, take some time to journal your thoughts. Write down what is weighing you down. Write down, by name, who you feel like you are trying to please and why.
As you begin to navigate this journey to discovering the beautiful and hope-filled life God has for you, take some time to write down and apply these verses:
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10, ESV
Letting go of people-pleasing can be hard, but it can give you freedom and peace.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5, ESV
When you feel anxious about whether you can trust others, you can always turn to God and renew your trust in him.
“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV
Focus on pleasing God more than pleasing others, and ask him to test your heart for signs of codependency every day.
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7, ESV
As anxieties rise, cast them onto God as if you are casting a fishing line into a pond, far away from you. Then trust him to take care of you.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” – Psalm 118:6, ESV
No one can threaten your love or security when it is secure with God. Lean on him and you’ll be less worried about what others think.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19, ESV
It’s easy to focus too much on the past. But God wants you to focus on the hope and joy that’s possible in the future, especially when you let go of codependency.
If you feel like you would do anything just to hold on to a relationship, it might be the perfect time to address what you are really feeling and dealing with under the surface. If you are struggling to determine your own needs and emotions, it sounds like the perfect time to schedule an appointment for codependency counseling with a Christian counselor.
Someone who is struggling with codependency might have lost sight of his or her own needs and emotions. He or she might be unsure of how to navigate thoughts and emotions because he or she has pushed them to the side for too long. A Christian counselor can help you sort out your feelings and identify codependent tendencies so you can be free from them. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you overcome with codependency counseling.
“Pensive”, Courtesy of Mohammad Faruque, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stressed”, Courtesy of Baptista Ime James, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drinking Coffee Alone”, Courtesy of Verena Yunita Yapi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading the Word”, Courtesy of Gift Habeshaw, Unsplash.com, CC0 License