Dill and I have recently had some lengthy conversations about what constitutes a healthy relationship. Together we’ve had a good mix of what we can now characterize as healthy and unhealthy dynamics. Today I wanted to share my take-aways from years of trial and error—lessons applicable to friendships, family relations, and romantic partnerships alike.
Admittedly, in a past relationship, my girlfriend and I fell into codependency for a couple of months. At the time, it felt natural to spend all of my time with her; she was the person that I felt the most comfortable with.
Our whole worlds were centered around one another. It became routine to get lunch together every day, eat dinner together every night, and spend every waking minute of the weekend cuddled up. I started to lose touch with things I enjoyed doing when I was single—the simple things—from watching movies alone in my bed to getting wine drunk with my friends on a Tuesday night. Why? Because if my girlfriend wasn’t there, it wasn’t fun. Why should I spend time alone watching a movie when she could be there with me?
Over time, I really started to see that I was losing myself. I was no longer a full person coming from my own life to the relationship—we had melded into one person. Her needs became my needs and vice versa. This made it hard to have boundaries with her; I couldn’t communicate my needs because I was disconnected from who I was outside of the relationship.
If any of you are a recovering codependent like me, you know how painful it can be to recognize these tendencies in your relationship. Your partner becomes your safety and comfort, and it can feel like you’re losing part of yourself if you try to break the cycle. To realize that you should not be getting all your needs met from a single relationship is a rude awakening, but it’s a necessary one.
One way to know that you’re in a healthy place is by asking yourself: For whatever reason, what if my partner left my life right now? Would I lose my sense of self and need to build myself up to be a whole person again? Or would I have a balanced enough ecosystem around me (of friends, hobbies, self-care routines, etc.) that it would hurt, but I would survive?
We wish you all luck in navigating your relationships out there.
Dill & Doe