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How to Not Be Codependent & Learn to Stand on Your Own Feet

If you find yourself relying upon someone else for your happiness and anything else in your life, it’s time to learn how not to be codependent.

how to not be codependent

Life can sometimes be hard, and sometimes, instead of standing on our own feet, or understanding how to not be codependent, we end up losing ourselves even more.

When you go through a rough patch, it’s normal to feel like your confidence has been knocked. You find it difficult to make strong decisions and you always second guess what you’re doing.

The thing is, you have to find the strength to build yourself back up again or you run the risk of always being stuck in the same rut. The danger, in this case, is becoming too reliant upon someone else for that strength you need to find.

In that case, you need to learn how not to be codependent.

For sure, it’s not easy to stand on your own two feet when you’re struggling, but you have to live your own life. You can’t wait for someone else to make all your decisions for you. Similarly, you can’t rely upon other people for your happiness either.

Codependency is an extremely easy trap to fall into, but once you recognize what you’re doing, you can get out of it just as quickly.

[Read: Am I codependent? 14 signs you’re clingy and constantly overstepping boundaries]

What is codependency?

Codependency means that you rely upon someone else to an unhealthy level.

If they’re unhappy, you are. When you need to make a decision, you ask their advice to the point where they basically make the choice for you. You’re unlikely to do anything without them. Basically, you’re not living your own life anymore.

A codependent relationship is very one-sided. It’s likely that one person has all the power and the other person just goes along with everything.

Of course, it could be that one partner doesn’t even realize what’s going on – it’s not that they’re grabbing the power because they want it. In that situation, one partner gives everything to their partner and expects them to do everything for them in return. [Read: Do you have codependent traits that make you clingy?]

However, in some toxic situations, it can be that one partner is the enabler and the other is being taken advantage of. That’s when control issues can take hold.

Regardless of how codependency arises, it’s a negative thing that needs to be addressed.

By learning how not to be codependent, you gain your independence once more. [Read: How to spot codependent behavior early and regain your self-identity]

The red flashing light of warning

You love your partner, you can’t stand it when they’re not with you. You think about them almost all of the time. Ah, the first flourishes of love! Of course, as time goes on, the constant need to be by their side does fade a little, but you miss them a little, all the same.

This scenario is normal and even healthy, but what happens when you feel bereft when your partner is away from your side, and you can’t function independently?

Red flashing light time!

In this case, you’ve become dangerously codependent. You need to remember your independence. This is another very common situation and usually occurs in people who have low self-esteem. [Read: How to give space in a relationship and not drift apart]

Everyone has certain dependencies on their partner, usually emotionally and physically, but what about your own life and your own needs? It’s healthy to have your life as a person in your own right and your life as a couple. The two mix and overlap, but you always maintain your independence, and your sassiness too.

We don’t want to highlight the negative here, but if you’re codependent on someone else, what happens if they leave? Hopefully, they won’t, but what if they do? How will you function? [Read: How to stop the codependency for a healthy relationship]

What does it really mean to be codependent on your partner?

Let’s take a step back and define this for you. We don’t want you panicking and thinking you’ve lost your identity just because you feel better around your partner. It’s normal to feel different when you’re in your couple bubble, but codependence is an excessive reliance upon your partner, usually for your emotional needs.

Of course, it’s not that you can’t complete day-to-day activities, that’s not what this is about. It’s about the way you feel and how you handle your emotions.

Someone who is overly codependent has a low EQ. EQ means emotional intelligence and dictates the way we can control our emotions and deal with others around us. It also dictates how we form attachments to others, and whether we’re able to remain independent, or whether we go down the line of losing ourselves. When you’re codependent, you’re losing yourself. [Read: 15 signs of a taker in a relationship – Are you a giver or a taker?]

For instance, your partner might have to go away for a couple of nights for work. During those nights, you’re bereft.

You should be taking the opportunity to have some ‘me’ time, perhaps go out and see friends, have a solo Netflix and chill evening, and enjoy the foods that they don’t like but you love. But instead, you sit wallowing, waiting for the phone to ring.

When the phone does ring, your emotional surge of happiness is almost like a drug-induced high, which lasts for a while after the call has ended, but is then replaced by sadness and a longing once more.

It’s no fun and to be honest, it’s not attractive either. [Read: How to overcome codependency and learn to thrive on your own two feet]

How not to be codependent and find yourself once more

As you can see, there’s no fun in being dependent on someone else for your happiness. So how can you stop the codependency deal and learn to focus on yourself?

The only person who should control your happiness and emotions is you. Sure, we’re affected by what goes on around us, but we should also be able to control extreme emotions and reactions, simply because we know they’re not healthy or useful.

Let’s look at a few ways you can work towards regaining your emotional independence, and how to not be codependent on your partner. The ironic thing is, your relationship will likely improve as a result! [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries that can help you live your best love life]

1. Have regular time apart

While you probably want to do everything together, it’s just not healthy! You need time on your own or with your own friends and that means having regular time when you’re away from your couple bubble.

Of course, your partner also does the same and you have to trust each other too.

You don’t have to have endless days apart, but one day a week when you go and see friends, and they do the same. Maybe a night where you go off and do something on your own too. This regains your independence, boosts your confidence, and gives you more security in your relationship. [Read: How much time should couples spend together? The answers you need]

2. Take a step back and ask yourself why you’re so codependent

Why do you feel so dependent on your partner? Is it because of a bad past relationship? Has your partner been unfaithful in the past and now you’re a little untrusting?

Try and pinpoint the reason for your codependency. Only when you know the reason and what you’re dealing with can you put a plan of action into place.

3. Find some new interests

If you can distract yourself from your codependency, you’ll soon see it drifting away. So, head out and find some new interests that you do without your partner.

This can be an evening class, like learning a language, a new hobby, writing a book, joining the gym, or simply immerse yourself in your job and make that your focus for a short while.

Soon, you’ll find yourself feeling far more powerful and confident. [Read: What are you passionate about? How to find and own your desires]

4. Focus on yourself

When you’re codependent on someone else, it usually means that you’re throwing all of your time and attention at them too. Turn that around and throw time and attention at yourself!

Focus on healthy eating, exercising a little more, do more of the things you love, and stop making your partner your be all and end all. By doing so, you’ll feel stronger within yourself and take back your own power. [Read: 15 signs of codependency to know if you’re being taken for granted]

5. Reconnect with your partner on a different level

Changing things around a little might help. It could be that your relationship has fallen into a rut of the same thing day in, day out. So, shake things up a little; plan a mini-break, have a regular date night, do things you wouldn’t normally do.

By incorporating this with time alone, you’re boosting your own confidence, improving your relationship, and you’ll have a lot more to talk about as a result! [Read: Emotional roller coaster – Are you stuck in an unhealthy ride?]

6. Dedicate a full day to self care

Have you heard of ‘self-care Sundays’? Well, if not, you need to start trying it! It doesn’t have to be a Sunday, but it needs to be one day that you dedicate to yourself completely.

This isn’t just doing a few more things that you enjoy, it’s having one full day per week or every couple of weeks when you pamper yourself, say “no” to any demands anyone is placing upon you, and only do what you want. You’ll feel wonderful for it and it will make you realize your power once more.

7. Start writing a journal

Sometimes, we don’t realize the things we do until we see them written down. Journaling is a fantastic way to bring self-awareness into your life.

It can also help you to recognize patterns of behaviors and triggers too.

So, grab a notebook and scribble a few things down every day. It doesn’t have to be a full story of the day and how it went, just a few keywords or sentences about anything of note and how you felt about it. [Read: How to improve yourself – 16 powerful secrets of self-improvement]

After a couple of weeks, sit down and read through your journal and identify any patterns or points that you weren’t aware of at the time. Make this a regular review session and you’ll have more awareness of your potential codependency issues. Then, you can start incorporating more ways to learn how not to be codependent.

8. Push yourself out of your comfort zone

Sometimes we just get a little comfortable. When you try and push out of it, it can be scary, but it’s necessary.

If you feel like you’ve fallen into a codependency pattern, try to find the bravery to do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re terrified of going to the cinema alone, do it. You’ll soon see how unscary the whole thing is. Perhaps you’re not keen on making strong decisions alone, without asking your partner – just do it and see what happens.

Much of the time, we’re just scared of the unknown. Once it’s not unknown anymore, it loses its power over us. [Read: 5 powerful steps to break out of your comfort zone]

9. Set yourself small goals

It’s much easier to learn how not to be codependent if you have something to focus on. Set yourself small goals that you can work towards. Make sure they’re not wildly unattainable, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Instead, choose small goals that you can achieve and then move on to the next one.

So, perhaps you could set yourself a goal to go to the gym on your own four nights per week. Do it and see how you feel. Then, set yourself a goal to not call your partner the next time they go out with their friends. The more you do these things and the more goals you achieve, the stronger you’ll feel. [Read: 18 ways to have high self-esteem and start winning at life]

10. Learn to challenge your thoughts

Sometimes, codependency can occur because of overthinking. Negative thoughts can easily take hold and once that happens, it’s easy to believe them over the positives. Over time, this erodes your self-confidence and makes the whole picture ten times worse.

The next time you notice yourself having a thought that could lead to codependent behavior, stop and challenge it.

For example, if your partner has gone out for an evening with friends and you start to worry that they’re going to cheat on you, stop and challenge it. Ask yourself what evidence you have that that’s going to be the case. Once you find that you have zero evidence to base your thoughts on, you’ll find it easier to push it away.

The more you do this, the more you’ll find that your confidence grows and your codependency eases. [Read: How to stop overthinking in a relationship and calm your mind down]

Of course, you still need your partner to a degree

Learning how to not be codependent doesn’t mean you’ll never rely upon your partner for anything again. Part of being in a relationship is being vulnerable enough to need your partner too. What you need to achieve is an equal balance between your independence and your relationship.

It’s normal to miss your partner when they go away for a short while, and even when you’ve been away from each other for a few hours. It’s normal to wonder what they’re up to and where they are.

This is part of being connected to another human being on an emotional level. What isn’t healthy is needing your partner to feel happy and grounded. That needs to come from within you, not from another person, partner, or otherwise. [Read: What does a healthy relationship look like? Your guide to rebuilding the perfect one]

By learning to be more independent, you’re not moving away from your relationships. You’re simply enhancing your life, regaining your identity, and also improving your relationship.

You’ll have much more to talk about, you’ll be stronger and happier, and your partner will notice these differences as a huge positive too.

[Read: 18 emotions you should never feel in a healthy relationship]

Being dependent upon another person isn’t healthy. In that case, learn how to not be codependent and understand your own power. You need to breathe as two separate people for a healthy and normal union.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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