The appeal of fairy tales and romantic comedies is tough to resist. If only life were that simple and satisfying.
However, if your idea of love is all-consuming, you may be on the road to codependency (more about that in a minute). Everyone wants to be happy, but it’s not healthy to depend on someone else for that happiness.
Terms like “soul mate” are alluring, but a well-rounded life is not about getting everything you need from one person. Not even if that one person is yourself. It may feel logical to seek out your perfect match but it’s unnatural to leave your happiness in the hands of others.
Your Partner Can Be Your Primary Power Source, But…
One of the best things about a healthy relationship is feeding off each other’s energy. This dynamic is a beautiful feeling, but again, you need more power sources.
Friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, and more — your happiness grows from all these relationships. Most of all, it grows from your relationship with yourself.
What Is Codependency?
The 1970s were an odd time. Barry Manilow (go ahead, google him) was a singing sex symbol. Anyway, one of his biggest hits was “Can’t Smile Without You.” The title gives away the vibe, but some of the lyrics include: “I feel sad when you’re sad/I feel glad when you’re glad.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is codependency in action.
Codependency is a learned behavior that is sometimes called “relationship addiction.” According to the official definition, it is “characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence —emotional, social, and sometimes physical — on another person.”
Codependency is tough to identify. On the surface, others may see you and your partner as being “made for each other.” However, a closer look will expose the reality that your happiness is dependent on others — specifically your partner.
5 Signs That Your Happiness Depends on Others
1. You’re Always Compromising
Do you merely go along to get along? How often do you take a stand even if you think it may upset your partner? Keep track of the times you let them choose what’s for dinner or what movie to watch, or how to rearrange the living room.
2. Seeking Reassurance and Validation
Have you been called needy or clinging? If so, it may be beneficial to analyze your behavior related to how reassurance and validation create happiness for you.
3. You Mirror Your Partner’s Moods
Re-read those song lyrics above. Do they sound familiar? This element is tricky because many people will feel sad when someone they love is sad. You can be sad for them, but you don’t have to always be sad with them.
You and your partner need to have your independent lives. If you feel jealous or threatened when your spouse enjoys spending time with others, this warrants examination. More ideally, you should seek to find joy in their autonomy.
5. You’re Afraid to Be Single or Alone
Do your perceptions of happiness have a default setting of “in a relationship”? It’s fair to want a partner but not okay if you can’t even imagine being happy without one.
Finding Balance Through Therapy
Hashing through the emotions of a relationship can feel like navigating a minefield. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Therapy is a proven path towards healing and recovery. Your sessions can become a place where you identify the patterns that shape your life and relationships-for better or worse.
Don’t let yourself suffer alone. Reach out to learn more about how to find happiness or yourself whether or not you’re in a relationship