In healthy relationships , couples depend upon each other for emotional support , companionship, and sharing of responsibilities like maintaining a household, paying bills, and caring for children.
While this is acceptable and even beneficial, relationships can become unhealthy when one partner has codependency habits. If you’d like to stop being codependent, read on to learn how to break codependency habits so that you can enjoy healthy, fulfilling relationships .
Related Reading: What Is Codependency - Causes, Signs & Treatment
What is codependency?
Before learning how to break codependency, it is important to understand what codependency is. A person who has codependency habits puts all of their time and energy into pleasing their partner.
In a codependent relationship, there is an enabler who needs the other person in the relationship, who is codependent. The codependent partner thrives upon their significant other needing them.
While it is not unhealthy to want to make your partner happy, what happens in codependent relationships is that one person’s entire self-worth is based upon pleasing their significant other.
They will sacrifice their one needs for the sake of their partner in every situation.
In a healthy relationship, one partner may occasionally make sacrifices for the other .
For instance, they may agree to an activity they don’t particularly enjoy if their significant other wants to do.
Or, they may quit their job and move out of state if their partner gets a dream job across the country. In a balanced relationship , the difference is that both partners make sacrifices for each other.
Related Reading: What Causes Codependency?
When a person has codependent habits, this behavior is extreme and one-sided; one partner makes all the sacrifices while the additional benefits.
Research with individuals who struggle with codependent behaviors shows that they lack a clear sense of self and feel the need to change who they are to gain acceptance from other people.
They also have difficulty separating themselves from their partners, confirming that people who seek to break codependent behavior have little sense of self-esteem outside of the validation they get from meeting their significant other’s every need.
10 Codependency habits & how to break them
Breaking codependency habits will require effort, but it is possible.
If you’ve found yourself stuck in a cycle of codependency, consider the following ten habits and how to overcome them, so you can stop being codependent:
Codependency involves spending all of your time and effort pleasing your partner to the extent that you give up your own needs and wants.
How to break it:
If you want to know how to break codependency habits, you have to begin to focus on your own needs.
Stop feeling guilty for expressing your opinion or standing true to your values if someone asks you to do something outside your comfort zone.
You jump in to help others, not because they have asked you to, but because you need to control the situation
Suppose you’re stuck in a cycle of codependent behaviors in your relationship. In that case, you probably feel the need to take control of every situation in which your partner is struggling or unhappy, even if they haven’t asked for your help.
This means you are always running to the rescue to save them from their problems.
Breaking codependent relationships requires you to step back, allow people to solve their problems, and wait until they ask you for help. You need to focus on your problems and find solutions for them.
Help yourself first.
Remember that codependent people tend to lack a sense of self, and they give up their own needs, wants, and opinions to please others.
Codependents are also prone to keeping their feelings inside since they would instead focus on others.
If you’re looking to break codependent behavior, you must be willing to be vulnerable and share your feelings with the people in your life.
Those who truly care about you will be willing to consider your feelings, even if you show vulnerability.
Related Reading: How to Share Your Feelings With Your Spouse
Individuals who want to know how to break codependency probably have a hard time saying no. Since their self-worth is based upon pleasing others, saying no makes them feel bad about themselves.
If this sounds like you and you are interested in breaking codependent habits, it is important to set boundaries . Instead of always saying, “Yes,” it is critical that you learn to turn down requests for your time or energy if you cannot give any more of yourself.
It is always okay to say, “I appreciate you considering me, but I have too much on my plate right now.”
If you find that you must care for other people, such as your friends or significant other, you display common codependent behavior.
To overcome this and learn how to break codependency habits, you need to explore why you have this intense desire to care for others.
Were you responsible for caring for younger siblings, or perhaps for your parents, when you were a child? Or, did you witness one of your parents or adult role models showing codependency habits?
Getting to the bottom of your need to care for others can help you address the issue and break free from codependency.
If this is your mindset, you must change your way of thinking to break codependent behavior. Understand that you are not responsible for the actions or problems of adults.
Suppose a friend, sibling, or significant other continues to find themselves in bad situations, such as those that involve legal or financial issues. In that case, you are not obligated to save them each time.
How to break it:
Doing so may make you feel a sense of achievement, but in the long run, you are only harming them by bailing them out every time things don’t go their way.
You need to understand that you are not a saviour burdened with the responsibilities of saving people around you. Wait for people to come to you if they need your help.
For those looking to learn how to break codependency habits, it is not uncommon to bounce from one codependent relationship to another, creating a pattern.
You may be in a codependent friendship that ends badly and then moves onto a codependent romantic relationship because this is the pattern of behavior you know.
If you want to change this, you must make a conscious effort to break the cycle of codependency in your future relationships. Establish some ground rules and make some boundaries.
If you think that’s not working, take a break from that relationship for your sake.
Remember that codependency habits involve a lack of a sense of self, meaning that you have difficulty differentiating yourself from others.
If this is the case, you must learn that there is a difference between love and obsession. In a codependent relationship, you become obsessed with your partner .
You want to control their behavior and ensure that they are always okay. Breaking codependent habits requires you to separate from your loved ones.
Develop your interests, and realize that you can enjoy life while allowing your friends, family members, and significant others to be separate from you and have their own lives.
Related Reading: Obsessive Love Disorder: Symptoms, What It is, Causes, Treatment
When all the focus is on your partner, you become stuck in a cycle of codependency. Everything that is remotely fun to you is connected to your partner.
You just don’t want to do anything for yourself and definitely not alone.
Think about things you genuinely enjoy doing and take time to practice them. Maybe you enjoy cooking, or you’re into weight lifting.
Whatever it is, allow yourself to take time to enjoy things separately from your partner. Rediscover your interests, and do not feel guilty for partaking in things that make you happy.
This is a common way of thinking among codependents, but you must take time to nurture yourself if you desire to stop being codependent.
How to break it:
Practice self-care by taking time to relax, get adequate rest, and care for yourself physically and mentally.
Maybe this involves going out to coffee with friends or attending a weekly yoga class. Whatever it is, make a habit of saying yes to your own needs.
Related Reading: How to Start Recovering From Codependent Relationships
People who struggle with codependency habits typically have a hard time separating themselves from others, such as their friends, family members, and partners, leading them to place all of their time, effort, and energy into pleasing others while ignoring their own needs and desires.
Individuals in codependent relationships feel guilty for focusing on themselves because their entire identity and sense of self-worth is based upon doing things for others. Fortunately, if this sounds like you, there are ways of how to break codependency habits.
Breaking free from codependency requires conscious choice and effort because, in many cases, it requires you to unlearn behaviors that were solidified during childhood and establish new ways of thinking and entirely new patterns of behavior.
If you have difficulty with this process, it may be necessary to seek professional intervention to learn to stop being codependent.
A licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, can help you overcome childhood issues that have led to codependency and help you develop skills for communicating assertively and thinking differently about yourself and your relationships.
For those looking for tips and advice on relationship issues like codependency, Marriage.com provides articles on various topics. We can offer helpful information on married life, dating, communication problems within relationships, and much more.