In a healthy relationship dynamic, each person recognizes that there must be a give-take balance for their connection to thrive. But what if you mostly, or only, give in your relationship? That’s what a codependent relationship looks like. While many believe you should simply end these relationships, they’re more complex when you consider the intricate struggles of the other partner.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at codependency, and why we should upgrade society’s view of it with a new term: prodependency.

Signs of a Codependent Relationship

A codependent relationship lacks a natural balance, which causes each person to assume the role of either the giver or the taker (not both). Typically, the taker struggles with addiction, mental illness or a poor mental state overall. Meanwhile, the giver tries to save their partner from their problems.

Codependent relationships aren’t as clear-cut as they seem. This is especially true for the givers, or caregivers, who may be so overwhelmed with the emotional stress of caring that they don’t realize their precarious position. Here are some signs of a codependent relationship from a caregiving partner’s standpoint:

You Put Your Partner’s Needs First.

More often than not, you would do anything to ensure your partner is happy with their actions. That might mean you cutting off family and friends or quitting your job.

You Make Excuses to Rationalize Your Partner’s Behavior.

Mistakes become more constant in a codependent relationship. After all, you’re willing to forgive your partner over and over for the sake of “love.”

You Feel It’s Your Responsibility to Save Your Partner.

A caregiving partner chooses to keep the relationship because they believe they can rescue their partners from their darkest problems. Indeed, experts from Mental Health America note that this belief usually affects the partner of a someone who suffers alcohol or drug addiction.

But conversations about codependency tend to blame and shame caregivers for simply looking out for their partner. For instance, as a caregiving partner, you want to help your troubled partner recover. However, the widespread logic says you must “detach with love,” so that you won’t enable their situation any longer.

While logic can come from a place of concern, it can alienate the partners of those who suffer addiction or mental illness. This side-effect is why professionals have begun encouraging people to change their viewpoints and find a better, more compassionate way to address a codependent relationship. After all, psychologists at Maryville University outline the importance of contextualizing people’s behavior through their social environment. That’s why being empathetic – not patronizing – towards their situation is the important first step. So if you’ve recognized the signs we mentioned in your relationship, perhaps you and your partner should adopt “prodependence.”

The Prodependence Model

As Scott Brassart previously discussed here at In The Rooms, prodependence is an approach that aims to encourage caregiving individuals in helping their loved ones in the healthiest, least-shaming way possible. Compared to the codependence approach (which constantly reminds you of the pain of a relationship with a recovering loved one), prodependence helps you acknowledge pain for your benefit and your partner’s. This is because it doesn’t view your relationship through the traumatic perspective of codependence. Instead, this attachment-based theory recognizes that individuals can both help and love one another amid addiction or other wellbeing problems.

Healing isn’t linear — no one medication or amount of therapy sessions can solve your mental or emotional issues. In fact, Dr. Drew Ramsey from Columbia University reveals that creative methods (like cooking together or sending each other encouraging messages) can effectively decrease depressive symptoms. Prodependence recognizes this need. It also recognizes that you and your partner are both human beings navigating the life-journey together.

If you’re struggling in a codependent relationship, we hope our article helps. If you need more help, seek out professionals to help you move forward. You can learn more about pro dependence here at In The Rooms!

Whatever you do, be careful that you’re not shamed in a “codependent” counseling approach.

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