You love your friends. You have so much fun together and they really are there for you when you need them. But how do you know when a friendship has gone too far? Sometimes there’s a fine line between depending on your friends, and feeling codependent.
But it never hurts to ask yourself a few questions – especially if you’re the type of person who feels more secure if your relationships are based in crisis management. Or you start to feel overwhelmed with guilt if you don’t invite certain friends along. If you start wondering if you’re in a friendship or a headlock, you might be in a codependent friendship. Codependent can simply mean you are dependent on the needs of another or controlled by them. The real question is, has it become unhealthy?
If we had good parenting, we’ve all learned to put others before ourselves… but if you are painting the living room red just because it’s your best-friend’s favorite color and they’re a little down right now, then you are in co-world! You may not have a situation quite that colorful, but if you are slipping into a comforter of self-pity when you think about how you have sacrificed for your friend or how you are going to give up your weekend organizing their home and life, then you have to look at your motives. Is it really friendship if it feels like martyrdom?
Joined at the hip
If you always have to bring your friend everywhere then you’ve lost your social autonomy. It’s fun at high school parties, but for adults it’s just weird! By channeling all your friendship intimacy to one person, you aren’t allowing anyone else to meet your needs as a friend. Most of the time, codependent people are actually scared away from people with healthy boundaries! It doesn’t fit in the set up. So, this just drives them back into the codependent relationship. Yeah, it’s a real pickle.
Letting your favorite shoes or jacket go out without you is one thing, but getting finances enmeshed or (even more creepy!) passing on ex loves is just out! Codependency is a strange dance. You usually have one person who is super dramatic and needy in their never-ending crises of unsolvable problems. Then you have the co-person who seems like they are just helping a friend in need, but actually the “help” is about taking the “drama queen” hostage and taking over the situations. So if you are handing over too much to a friend in need, you’re too close for comfort!
Caretaker vs. true friend
Most codependent behavior is learned with the primary family. Perhaps a parent was addicted or emotionally reckless and as a child you were pushed into the role of caretaker. By believing that caretaking is the definition of love, people become attracted to others who need help just to get along in their day-to-day lives. If you are wondering if a current friendship is codependent, look at your past. Do you usually have one “best friend” that takes over your life for a period of time? Did you feel abandoned when the friendship ended? Codependent relationships conclude when either the drama queen moves on to someone with even fewer boundaries – like a romantic relationship that might offer even more financial or social gain, or the co-person is just so exhausted that they attack, suddenly feeling abused or taken for granted.
If you have found yourself in the tango of codependency, back away slowly. It may not end pretty, but better sooner than later. Take time to find out what in you doesn’t feel worthy of real friendship and heal yourself first. Get to the heart of what has set up this pattern and set yourself free. Soon you’ll be attracting people into your life who value your companionship – not just what you can fix for them. Friendship is a gift from the gods, one of life’s sweetest treasures.
By tapping into the riches of healthy friend connections, you’ll attract love in abundance.