Countless women I see are struggling with issues of codependency and it’s killing their relationships (men can also be codependent). The tip off for me of codependence is desperation to make a relationship work despite countless signs that it’s not a healthy relationship. The person may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship yet stay for years because they “love” the abuser for example. This desperation often leads the codependent into twisting themselves into a pretzel to try to make the other person happy and the relationship to work.

Below are several red flags for codependency:

1. An unhealthy reliance on others to make you happy.

2. Putting the needs of others above your own needs and
wants.

3. Going out of your way to get someone’s love, acceptance or attention even at your own expense.

4. A belief that the attention and love of another is what will make you happy.

5. A strong desire to care-take another despite their constant attempts to push you away or get you to stop.

6. Frequent attempts to control the other person’s actions, behaviors, choices etc.

7. Excessive analyzing or preoccupation of another person’s actions, thoughts, deep-seated issues as you see them or feelings.

8. The grandiose belief that you know what’s best for the other person, what they need and/or what they’re emotionally hiding.

In general, codependence is almost an obsession about gaining the attention, love and affection of another person and being willing to do anything to make that happen. Often this need clouds a person’s judgment to such a degree that they fail to see the countless signs right in front of them telling them this relationship is unhealthy. If they do know the relationship is unhealthy, they often are at a loss as to how to change it or unhook from it because they can’t bear to be at odds with the person or relationship.

If codependents aren’t trying to twist themselves into a pretzel to try to satisfy the other person, then they’re often trying to twist the other person into a pretzel to try to change for the codependent. The person who struggles with codependency will often try to get the other person to see the error of their ways and to change. Codependents often think, “If s/he would just do… (Fill in the blank), everything would be fine.” They then spend much of their time trying to get the other person to just do…--so things will be okay. Of course, neither twisting himself or herself into a pretzel nor twisting the other person into a pretzel works.

If you believe you struggle with codependency your first step towards change is to get your eyes on you and off of the other person. Remember that contrary to Tom Cruise’s line in Jerry Maguire, only YOU complete you. Stop looking for someone else to do that for you.

Challenge: If you think you struggle with codependency, look at some of the signs above, read about it, get curious and be open to looking at yourself. Stop tying to figure out what’s wrong with the other person and start looking at where you’re off.

Stay tuned for Part II of Codependency: How to Stop Being Codependent

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Merlo-Booth is a relationship coach with over 15 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. She has worked with individuals, families and couples on a variety of life issues. http://www.relationalcoaching.com.

She earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pepperdine University in 1991 and has received her coaching training from Coach University. Lisa is the Director of Training for the Relational Life Institute owned by the renowned author, Terrence Real.

Check out Lisa's blog on relationships at http://lmerlobooth.typepad.com/straight_talk_4_women/