What is codependency?
I’ve known numerous men who have been in relationships with clingy, needy, overly-emotional, jealous, and controlling women. These men are frustrated with what they perceive as their girlfriend’s flaws. They often don’t realize that their own behavior is contributing to the unhealthy relationship and allowing it to persist.
These men are often stuck in codependent relationships. The term “codependent” is commonly used to refer to individuals who are overly reliant on their partners, using them as a crutch and not wanting to leave their side. However, it can apply to any unhealthy emotional dependency. When a man stays in a relationships with a clingy, jealous, critical partner, he feels dependent on her approval.
Any man with a high level of self-esteem and healthy attitude towards relationships would not tolerate such a relationship. He’d either take action to stop the pattern, or simply leave. Men who get stuck in a codependent relationship, on the other hand, end up pursuing an endless pattern of trying to please their partner, and feeling frustrated when their desire for freedom conflicts with their partners need for rigid conformity to her needy patterns of behavior.
All relationships should have plenty of mutual acceptance, space to be alone, time with friends (of both genders), and respect. Often, codependent relationships are lacking these things.
There are two dynamics going on in such relationships:
1) Her issues (often revolving around low self-esteem) prompt her to be controlling, jealous and overly sensitive .
2) Your issues (often involving shame and the desire to please) prompt you to stay in an unhealthy relationship — despite the stress and dissatisfaction — for fear of disappointing her.
Are you in a Codependent Relationship?
If you’re in a codependent relationship with a controlling or needy woman, you might find that the relationship is especially restrictive. Some common traits of these relationships include:
- You have to always let her know where you are
- When you’re out, you have to speak on the phone multiple times a day
- You are discouraged from keeping female friends
- She takes an active dislike of some of your friends and/or family, and feels offended that you would have them as part of your life
- She attempts to control your internet usage, or monitors your email and other online communications (Facebook, etc.)
- She shows excessive jealousy
- She has difficulty letting petty issues go, and instead insists that you both talk about them at length
- She mistrusts you and casts a suspicious eye, even if you’ve done nothing wrong
- She’s often critical of your behavior
- You find yourself often “walking on eggshells” around her
- Your friends tell you that you shouldn’t put up with her, but you feel the need to stay
- You can’t speak your mind because you’re too afraid of how she’ll react
- You’ve considered breaking up for a long time, but you don’t want to break her heart
- You feel that she may not be able to live without you, or you’ve tried to break up and she threatened drastic action (quitting her job, hurting herself, etc.)
These are just a few possible indicators of a codependent relationship, and by no means is an exhaustive list.
What’s Wrong with Codependent Relationships?
Relationships should be places of comfort and acceptance, and they should be avenues toexpanding your horizons, not restricting them. Relationships should add joy to one’s life, and though they often hit rough patches, a relationship shouldn’t be a constant burden. Codependent relationships can be so stressful and restrictive that the men involved often reach a boiling point, blowing-up at their partner. It’s like a release valve, and after the pressure dissipates a bit, they fall right back into the pattern.
It’s up to these men to determine whether they want to remain in that relationship or find their way to freedom. If you see yourself described in this article, take hope — many men are stuck in similar situations, and there is a way out.