That’s Unhealthy

Why codependent relationships are toxic


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Demetria Slyt, Opinion Writer

What is codependency? Why are people saying it is toxic? Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down the family line. A behavior that prevents individuals from having a healthy relationship, and instead makes one dependent on their partner for emotional and financial support. Codependent relationships are incredibly one-sided, one partner giving up everything for the other regardless of their own health or other needs. In another way of putting it, codependent relationships are like an addiction. Are these relationships strictly between couples or can they be with family members and friends too? What are the signs of codependency? 

These kinds of relationships can be more than romantic. Codependency can occur in friendships, as well as with parents or other family members. It can affect anyone, especially those who are currently struggling or have struggled with addiction in the past or those coping with mental illness. Codependency can be learned, in many cases a dysfunctional family life may cause this behavior to emerge. That being said, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse play a hand in this. But what are the signs that you or your partner or someone you know might be codependent? Here are four big markers of codependency: 

  1. People pleasing and caretaking 

Sometimes you might feel the overwhelming need to please others or take care of everyone around you, so much so that you do not take care of yourself. You feel as if you are responsible for everything and everyone around you. If someone gets upset, you might believe it is solely your fault or that you messed up. In reality, you are not responsible for other peoples outwardly behavior or emotions.  

  1. Fear of abandonment or being alone 

You might fear that people will abandon you if you do not do everything you can to make them happy. This plays into that “people pleasing” category a little bit, many people try to please their partners or friends so they do not leave them. This fear might cause you to bottle up your emotions instead of communicating them because you do not want to make others “upset” or “uncomfortable” by speaking up about your personal needs. This can be very damaging to your mental health. 

  1. Lack of boundaries 

You may find that you struggle setting, recognizing, or even respecting boundaries with your partner or friends. Oftentimes these relationships might have one person not respecting these boundaries (that person could be very dominant or manipulative in nature) and the other individual failing to reinforce their boundaries (this person is usually submissive in nature).  

  1. Low self-esteem 

You might suffer from low self-esteem or low self-image if you are codependent. It is important to note that both people in the relationship might suffer from this and rely on each other for confidence. This might also happen if you are demanded to meet other people’s material needs or feel as though you always need validation from your partners.  

What is the difference between a healthy relationship and a codependent one? A healthy relationship often grows from trust, acceptance, and mutual respect. These are usually referred to as “interdependent” relationships that offer an equal give-and-take for both parties involved; rather than one person giving and the other taking without any reciprocation. In healthy relationships, you accept each other for your differences. You offer support and encouragement to one another without trying to change your partner to someone more ideal. Healthy relationships do not allow enabling of any kind.  

There are various questions you can ask yourself or others who might be codependent, as well. There are also a handful of quizzes online that you could take to figure this out, such as the following: It is recommended to seek the advice of a professional for further investigation or a way to recover. Codependent relationships are not healthy and there are ways out.

Demetria Slyt is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]