The Five Warning Signs That Your Partner Is Codependent

If you recognise any of these, a relationship expert shares why the alarm bells should start ringing.
It's important to know the signs.
LeoPatrizi via Getty Images
It's important to know the signs.

Codependency in a relationship can cause a whole host of problems for both you and your partner – and you might not even realise you’re in one.

A codependent relationship involves a power imbalance between two people – one normally acts as the other’s ‘caretaker’, with their sense of identity based on how much they can make their partner happy and meet their needs.

In turn, the other partner will make the most of this and gain validation from having their needs met by their caretaking other half.

Mix this together and you’re left with a relationship where both parties have an over-reliance on one another.

But how can you identify if codependency is part of your relationship’s dynamic?

January is Codependency Month, and to mark it Lovehoney has partnered up with relationship expert Ness Cooper to help people identify and free themselves from these toxic types of relationships.

According to Cooper, codependency can be seriously harmful because “when someone falls into an unhealthy codependent relationship, the individual self can become lost and this can affect the individual’s ability to communicate their needs and even consent in situations.”

The five signs of codependency in a relationship

Cooper has shared the five big red flags that should be setting off alarm bells if they seem familiar in your relationship.

They push boundaries

If you’re in a codependent relationship, your partner will often push your boundaries and have you questioning your beliefs, while simultaneously expecting you to conform to theirs.

They put you down often

People who engage in unhealthy codependency will often start taking control of the situation early on with comments that will put you down. They may pick apart and criticise even the tiniest things, like what you wear or even the food you pick for date night.

They lie to get their own way

If their lying is more than just a slip of the tongue and happening regularly, particularly when used to control other parts of your relationship, then this is a major red flag that you’re in an unhealthy codependent relationship.

They always put the blame on you

Often they will blame you for things that aren’t your fault and find issues with your efforts to please them, rather than thank you as they should in a healthy relationship.

This often has a very negative impact on your self-esteem, and can make it harder to leave the relationship even early on.

They constantly check in on you

Your partner may try to control your schedule and closely monitor your actions. Even if you’re doing a task they asked you to do, you may find your phone buzzing non-stop with texts checking where you are and how long you’ll be.

This can cause feelings of panic, and a sense of pressure to always live up to their expectations.

How to get out of a codependent relationship

The key to getting out of an unhealthy codependent relationship is to work on maintaining an individual sense of identity away from your partner, Cooper explains.

But if you do find yourself in an unhealthy codependent relationship, it’s important to recognise this as early as possible and try and address it with your partner.

According to Cooper, “this might involve talking to your partner about problems in your relationship and looking to find solutions – or it might mean walking away from the relationship altogether and focusing on your own wants and needs.”

“Discovering ways to satisfy your own needs and find pleasure alone can be a huge confidence boost, and help you find freedom from an unhealthy relationship. And the new year is the perfect excuse to gain your freedom and sure your relationship with yourself is the most important in your life.”