Love Addiction or Codependency: How to Tell?
Do you have a love addiction or codependency? We often say things like “true love” and “soul mate” all the time. People often think that you can only be truly happy if you find someone who completes you, and that love is a strong drug you can’t get away from. But is a relationship that takes over your life really love, or is it something else? You may have heard the word “codependency,” but you may not know what it means.
How do you know if your relationship is good or if you have what some people call “love addiction” or codependency?
Codependency – What Is It?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a reliable book that doctors use to figure out what kind of mental illness a person has. But codependency is not listed as a separate personality disorder in the DSM. The word “codependency” really comes from drug and alcohol addiction, and it has different meanings.
The easiest way we can explain codependency is to say that it is looking for love based on feelings of insecurity or not being good enough. A person who is codependent looks to their partner to fix their selfesteem, ease their pain, and fill the void inside of them. The result is that the partner cannot be who they really are. Instead, they are forced to play the part that the codependent person has chosen for them, which is to provide unconditional love and security. Still, you can never have too much love. The person who is codependent keeps trying to please their partner so they can get the love they want. It becomes a habit that keeps going on its own because of intense thoughts and compulsions. Because of this, codependency is also sometimes called a love or relationship addiction.
Stages of Love Addiction and Codependency
In the initial stages of love addiction, the relationship is like any other, except that the partner gets a lot of attention and there is a strong desire to please him or her. This turns into an addiction over time, and the codependent person starts to explain away their partner’s bad behavior. Healthy limits start to get fuzzy. The codependent person may stop spending time with friends and stop doing things they used to enjoy so they can focus on their partner.
The Middle Stage
During the middle stage of codependence is when both people try harder to ignore the bad parts of the relationship. The codependent person feels more worry, self-blame, and guilt. Self-esteem starts to go down, and the person starts to give up things to keep the relationship going. All the while, resentment, anger, and sadness grow as the person with a love addiction tries to change their partner by manipulating, nagging, and putting the blame on them, but fails. During this time, a person who is codependent may turn to drugs or behaviors that are hard to stop.
The Final Stage
In the final stage of codependency, physical health starts to suffer because of how the person feels.
People who are codependent can get several stress-related illnesses, such as headaches, trouble
sleeping, stomach problems, eating disorders, sciatica, and allergies. The effects of love addiction and obsessive-compulsive habits get worse. Angry, sad, and hopeless feelings get worse.
Differences Between Codependency and Love
How can you tell the difference between good love and codependence? When someone first makes
them fall in love, most people feel a rush of feelings. But in good relationships, this first feeling of happiness settles into a calmer sense of contentment. With love addiction, the relationship is based on low self-esteem and feelings of insecurity. The result is that a codependent person loses sight of who they are and only cares about what their partner needs.
Addictions to Love Can Be Bad
You could say that some codependence is good for you. In the end, isn’t love supposed to mean putting your partner first? And is not knowing you have someone by your side the whole point of being in a relationship? So, what if you cannot do everything on your own anymore?
Whenever there are factors of low self-esteem and fear of rejection, the destructiveness of love addiction starts. Self-confidence and trust are signs of a healthy relationship. You enjoy the love of your partner, but you do not always have to feel accepted or liked.
Relationships are not always black and white; it is important to remember that. There are some benefits to being in a codependent relationship, but these benefits usually do not last long and are replaced by feelings of insecurity.
How to Break Free from Codependency
If you think you are in a codependent relationship, you can break the unhealthy loop by taking certain
- Do not try to make everyone happy, focus on yourself.
- Realize that you cannot always make everyone happy.
- It is okay if your partner is sometimes unhappy or mad at you.
- Do not feel bad if you cannot be there for a loved one all the time.
- Put yourself first every now and then.
Your happiness is yours
You should not let how happy your partner is affecting how your ability to be happy. Happiness is a choice! Fights are good for a relationship. When you disagree, walk away first. Let the dust settle, and then talk about the issue in a calm way.
First, love yourself
Too much attention to your partner is the main problem with codependence. But you cannot love your partner well if you do not love yourself first. Spend time with family and friends, pick up a skill, and accept who you are. Do not make your partner the most important thing in your life.
Ignoring Red Flags – Unhealthy Relationships
People with love addictions often put up with all sorts of disrespectful, bad behavior from their partners, like cheating or physical or mental abuse. People who are codependent tell themselves that they can change their partner. It is important to know that if you are in an unhealthy relationship, you can leave or get help. Stop ignoring the red flags and do something about it!
Get help from a professional life or relationship coach
A professional relationship coach can help you figure out how to get out of codependency and understand your relationship better. It is not a bad thing to ask for help. Do not let a real or imagined bad reputation for therapy ruin your relationship.
True love does not exist in codependency
It is an addiction to love that can ruin your relationship and yourself. By learning about the problems of codependence, you have already taken the first step toward a good relationship with your partner. Now, if you think your relationship has a love addiction, all you must do is get the help you need.
In a codependent relationship:
- One partner has an excessive need to be cared for by the other.
- One partner puts the needs of the other ahead of their own, constantly worrying about them and making decisions based on how it will affect them.
- One partner feels like they do not matter without the other person in their life and that their world would end without them.
In an interdependent relationship:
- Both partners can take care of themselves while still having a healthy relationship with one another.
- Both partners can depend on one another, but their dependence is not unhealthy nor is it damaging for either partner.
As you can see, the main difference between codependency and interdependency tends to be unhealthy and healthy relationship behaviors. Interdependence involves an equal balance of taking care of yourself and your partner. You can consider things from your partner’s perspective without feeling like your needs are getting ignored or overlooked. You realize that you matter just as much as your partner, and you can be there for them without sacrificing your own needs.
So, Are You in a Codependent Relationship?
It may be hard to know if you are in a codependent relationship because you may feel that you are showing how much you love your partner by doing a lot for them or vice versa.
Here are some ways to know if your relationship is showing signs of codependency:
- You control all the activities in the relationship.
- You forget self-care to attend to the other one’s needs instead.
- You feel anxious or panicky if they do not hear from the other frequently.
- Start having difficulty spending time alone without the other person.
- Given up your relationships with others to focus solely on your partner.
Whether you discover you are the codependent partner or that your partner is exhibiting signs of codependency, both of you will benefit from relationship coaching. Individual coaching and couples coaching can help get to the root of codependent behaviors so that you can work together toward a healthier, interdependent relationship.
Marriage & Relationship Coaching
If you are still not sure if you are codependent in your relationship, invest now! A relationship coach can help you determine if you have a love addiction or codependency. Schedule your first session with an experienced coach at Marriage Means Moore today! In our Built Marriage Tough Program, you can get to what is holding your relationship back within 3 months.
You call your doctor if you have pain, you call your accountant if you have trouble with your taxes, you call a mechanic when the car is broken. Now you can call a Relationship Coach to get help with your relationship and marriage needs.
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