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The mistakes you don’t know you are making


A very common problem I see and have lived myself is co-dependency. This is a relationship pattern that focuses on others at the expense of yourself. It relies on external validation. Seeking approval from others, seldom from yourself.


It is common for co-dependent people to be people pleasers.


What causes co-dependency?


Co-dependency results from not being able to fully love yourself, be independent of others, give yourself love, attention, or validation.


Couples often become co-dependent because each person cannot recognise their own worth without feeling cared for and/or needed by the other. In other words, co-dependency is caused by an underlying sense of self-rejection and self-abandonment.


You may use various forms of manipulation to attempt to get their love and approval to feel worthy.


Identifying the traits of co-dependency that are hurting you is the first step to change. It may take years to become ready to let go as there is a painful withdrawal process that must be undertaken.


Symptoms of co-dependency:


Taker symptoms:



Caretaker symptoms:


Signs you’re in a co-dependent relationship:


  1. You make your partner responsible for your feelings; that is, you make it, so your unhappiness is tied to your partner’s actions instead of taking responsibility for yourself for how you feel.
  2. You feel stressed around your partner, and you often feel irritated and frustrated with your partner. You are more relaxed around others than around your partner.
  3. You feel stagnant and stuck in the relationship. You don’t know how to bring life back into the relationship. You feel that you are settling and that perhaps you are with the wrong partner.
  4. You have frequent fights, and you blame each other, believing if only the other would change, everything would be OK.
  5. You are tuned in to your partner’s feelings but tend to ignore your own feelings or often don’t even know how you feel.
  6. Your judge yourself harshly, which might manifest as you are pushing yourself to look good and perform right in order to get the attention and approval from your partner.


If you’ve realised you are co-dependent that’s the first step, acknowledging. Co-dependency does not have to be a permanent reality.


Where do I start?


So what are the mistakes you don’t know you are making? Working out the root cause of your pain is the key.


Healing or mending involves fixing your relationship with yourself, improving your relationship skills, and doing the childhood work (in no order). Beginning to lessen the dependence on other people is the way forward.


1. Start saying no


Saying no takes practice. Start with the safest people who are okay with you saying no and start with the “baby nos.”


2. Co-dependents don’t do conflict.


What results is festering resentment and anger and swinging into a victim. Begin with voicing what hurt you have; it is a liberating experience. It has the potential of changing the dynamics of your relationship because it creates awareness of what you’re feeling, something which may not have been apparent before.


3. Therapy can help:


Where you are validated that you did the best you can given your circumstances and you can make a different choice when you are ready.


Letting go of co-dependency is not an easy task as for some it’s a lifelong way of being. Little steps with some self-compassion and kindness can go a long way.


Tune in to my Empowered Marriage Podcast to learn more. This fortnight’s podcast is available now and discusses this topic in more depth.


The mistakes you don’t know you are making https://www.powerofchange.com.au/empowered-marriage-podcast/


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