— Interpretation of Gebo, Rune of Partnership
Partnership and co-dependence, it would seem, are synonymous. After all, how can two individuals bring their lives into each other’s sphere of influence without being co-dependent?
Is it possible to enjoy another’s company, be enriched by another’s life, while not assuming his identity or controlling her behavior? Yes. Self-awareness is one key to successfully retaining your individuality while expending and exchanging equal amounts of energy that support interdependence, or a co-creative relationship.
Interdependence bolsters both parties and both people gain something from the interaction. Interdependence allows you to stay true to your own desires and needs while also truly enjoying giving of yourself to someone else. Co-dependence says “I feel obligated to this person,” whereas interdependence says, “I want to do this with or for this person.”
Many of us have earlier conditioning that causes us to bring co-dependent behaviors into a relationship. Especially if we base our current relationship on a false ideal, such as our first love, or much younger selves, before we were mature enough to know our own needs or understand give and take. But we can retrain our brains and re-pattern our behaviors. It’s never too late to redraw your blueprint for happiness.
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5 Ways to Tell if You’re in a Co-Dependent Relationship
Here are some tips on how to know the difference between enabling, unhealthy dependence versus life affirming companionship, healthy interdependence and joyful human partnership.
Keep this checklist with you in your pocket or purse and use it to practice new behavior every time you find yourself slipping into unproductive patterns.
- Go With Your Instincts: Do you grant requests and favors to your partner that he/she never returns, ignoring that gnawing feeling in your gut?
Solution: Pause, take a deep breath and say, “Let me think about that.” Then give your honest answer.
- Isolation or Solitude: How do you feel when you’re alone? Does being alone with yourself cause anxiety or boredom, or, mild excitement at the chance for some ‘me’ time?
Solution: Anticipate as much as possible your partner’s social or business calendar and intentionally pencil in one of your favorite solo activities: Reading a trashy novel, self-pedicure, even giggling on the phone with your girlfriend.
- Controlling Others: Do you feel responsible for your partner’s feelings, deeds and behaviors? Or do you give him room to go through his own process?
Solution: Just for the social experiment, observe with kindness what your partner is doing or saying and reserve all judgement. Instead, practice being curious about others’ reactions and/ or the outcome. Remember, focusing on others to avoid our own feelings is a learned habit. Learn to break it.
- Approval Seeking: Do you offer your ideas and creative problem solving or wait for your partner to suggest a vacation, set a budget, plan a calendar, figure out a solution. A bigger sign of co-dependence is always taking back a thought or changing your mind at the slightest sign of disapproval.
Solution: Even though you may break a sweat, your knees may shake or your throat feel tight, speak up and put your idea on the table. Every time you do so and find you have not died, you are rewiring your brain to accept the positive association.
- Asking for Help: Do you feel as though you’re always asking for help, whether it’s finding your socks or getting to work on time? Or, oppositely, do you never offer to help or ask for it, choosing instead to always go it alone?
Solution: Before you ask for or offer help, take a pause to reflect and assess just what type of help you need and can reasonably expect from your partner.