I’ve been wrestling with the idea of co-dependency since I started writing about relationships years ago. I’ve read books on attachment styles, how being co-dependent is detrimental and how being co-dependent is actually normal.
But is it bad? Is it bad to rely on your partner and move as one single unit?
I would love to give you a black and white answer right now of either yes or no but I can’t. After years of reading everything that I can get my hands on when it comes to these kinds of relationships, I can tell you that it’s subjective.
Like all healthy relationships, there is good and there is bad. Nothing is everything is perfect 24/7. There are times when packing up and leaving makes more sense than staying. There’s an invisible string that keeps you attached to your partner and you have no idea why you feel such a strong need to stay.
Co-dependency is both bad and good. Revolutionary I know. Many people associate co-dependency with relationship addiction. It’s oftentimes described as when one person in the relationship is so attached to another person but the other isn’t as invested. This is when co-dependency is bad.
Usually, when this type of co-dependency is displayed, the ‘relationship addict’ is so absorbed in their partner that their own mental, physical and emotional health falls to the side and they do everything that their partner is thriving. A relationship addict in a co-dependent relationship would (literally) give every single thing they have, money, health, and love, in order to make sure that their partner is happy.
Let me give you some examples. Did you work 12 hours yesterday and then went home to cook dinner for your partner? Then did you guys sit together and eat it or were they glued to the TV and didn’t even talk to you? Did they even say thank you? Did they then go on to point out the flaws in the meal and then everything around the house they wish you had cleaned? There was zero appreciation for the fact of what you did and they were pointed out how you could do more?
Has your partner ever said that they’re ‘not sure’ about how the relationship is going? So, instead of telling them to figure it out on their own time and you deserve better than being a maybe in their life, you work extra hard to show them that you’re the one? Do you drop everything to go to their house and make sure they’re OK when they call you out of the blue after two weeks of ghosting?
These examples might not seem too extreme but let me tell you are they ever co-dependent and not the good kind. These are examples of the kind of co-dependent they warn you about. If you’re giving everything to someone else and they’re not giving you really anything back, then you need to evaluate and realize you deserve better.
The good kind of co-dependent, as I mentioned, exists as well. We as humans are meant to be pack animals. We need interaction and human connection in order to survive. It starts early with our parents and that does shape the way most of your connections will go into your adult life. That’s not to say that some people who have not the best relationships with their parents will have bad relationships with their partners. It also doesn’t mean people with great relationships with their parents will have the best romantic relationships either.
Either way, when you connect with someone who truly deserves and loves you for who you are, it’s natural to become co-dependent. You operate together and you live your lives as one. They’re your best friend and they’re your love. So why wouldn’t you become incredibly co-dependent on them?
The difference between good and bad co-dependency is that all of the actions that you would do for your partner is reciprocated. Your partner is just as co-dependent as you and you match. Being dependent on another person is actually a good thing. It means you’ve let down your guard enough to let someone see you at your most vulnerable and you’ve learned that you are still loveable in those moments.
Co-dependency is subjective. Just like all relationships. So only you can decide what’s right for you.
But what I hope you know more than anything, is that falling in love can be beautiful if it’s with the right person. And you deserve the right person.