I have heard it so many times. “I was in a relationship that all I did was get used.” But upon further observation, I question whether the person was really used, or were they so co-dependent they did everything in hopes of being loved, wanted, needed, etc.
When a relationship is budding, there is, or should be, a natural desire to care for, and do things for the other person. But when that desire turns into an obsessive need to take over the other persons needs, it becomes a problem.
If you find yourself looking for a reason to take care of someone thinking it will make them want, love, need you more, you are probably co-dependent. If you meet someone who always seem to have a need to fix your life or resolve a situation you have, they are probably co-dependent and you need to run fast, in the opposite direction.
Being spoiled by the person you love, or spoiling someone is great. Healthy even. I myself, love surprises, I love flowers and coffee and to be treated like I’m special, just as I like to treat the person I’m with special. But there is a huge difference in treating someone special and spoiling them, and being co-dependent and “Needing” to feel like your fixing things.
A co-dependent person looks for reasons to be the person in your life you turn to when you need something. They make it their mission to be your fall back guy. Are you broke? They are there with money, even when they don’t have any themselves. They will find a way to provide for you.
You mention you haven’t had time to clean your house, go grocery shopping, run errands, etc. They jump and offer to do it all for you.
It truly makes your life easier to have a co-dependent partner. It as if magically, you no longer have to do anything that you don’t like or want to do yourself. You are virtually being waited on hand and foot. But it’s not all fun and games when you really look deeper into it.
Now that person who is busy running around cleaning up all your messes, literally and figuratively, expects you to be there for them every second of every day. They expect you to answer every call, text or message, they send you and they feel ignored or hurt when you don’t. They desire your undevoted love, time and attention because, hey, they did/are doing, everything for you, therefore you have no need for anyone or anything else in your life.
So what happens to the co-dependent person when their attention is not reciprocated?
It goes beyond a normal persons feeling of being hurt. They start racking their brains to figure out what they did wrong and how they can make it better. They will try harder to get your attention. Sometimes even allowing themselves to be hurt or treated badly just to have that feeling they crave of being the one that’s there for you or that you love and need. Even if that love is only in their minds and it’s not a true love, as a healthy relationship should be.
The co-dependent person will spend excessive amounts of time/money/energy, to prove their love and devotion, until no amount of doing can sustain the relationship. Once a normal person removes themselves out of this toxic environment, the co-dependent person will begin to unravel. They will no longer see the other person as this magnificent human being that they just wanted to love and care for. Or in some cases the poor human being that could not take care of themselves and therefore ‘needed’ the co-dependent to take care of them.
Now the object of the co-dependents affection are an animal that just used them. They will go to any means to let everyone know how badly they were treated, and ultimately hurt. How much time, effort, money, whatever it was they gave to the other person hoping to be the sole reason for their breathing.
Now the ex lover, friend, becomes a “user”. The new conversation is “Yea I was with them, but we broke up because all they did was use me.” Or, “we used to be best friends, but all they did was use me so we’re not speaking anymore.” And in many ways this is true. I myself have been on both sides of the co-dependent fence. Of course at the time I did not recognize the behavior. All I knew was I was either being extremely spoiled or I was trying to make someone’s life easier. (At least that’s what I told myself) when in actuality I just wanted to love or be loved. I wasn’t going about it the right way in either circumstance.
It took years of maturity as well as observing and listening to other peoples behavior to understand the working of a co-dependent person and their relationship patterns. In those observing in and out of relationships I learned a co-dependent person will always be a victim. The mentality of a co-dependent requires so much more attention for their own survival. If they are not in a relationship where they can manipulate attention they will try to manipulate attention by bringing others down.
Co-dependent people have hero complexes and literally look for ways to insert themselves into every situation possible just to be the one who “Fixed it/did it/made it easy. Most of the time they don’t even realize that is what they are doing, they just want to be there for others.
One of the worst pains I ever had was a text I received from an ex years ago. It has never to this day left my mind and in fact I saved it as a reminder. Before I tell you what the text said I will preface it by saying, I am, always have been, and always will be, a fixer. I love helping people and being there for people who need a hand up. But at some point I started recognizing my own co-dependent behavior. I’m sure the text had a lot do with it.
So just to paraphrase the text it went something like this: You are not your own person, your life is based on what you do to take care of everyone else. You will never be truly happy, nor satisfied with your life or stand on your own because you will always be too busy standing for everyone else!
WOW! Talk about a slap in the face. And this was from a person I loved and had helped for years. Or so that is what I thought I was doing. In actuality, all I did was enable them to not to have to do anything for themselves so I could pat myself on the back and be recognized as the one who did it for them.
See, I’m not just writing these words out of judgment for others. I recognize the behavior because I lived it. I still help people, I still will volunteer to get stuff done. But it’s no longer because I want/need to be the hero. I don’t just jump on the bandwagon to volunteer to fix every crisis. In fact more often than not, I try to avoid these situations or at the minimum suggest things to the person to allow them to help themselves. I have very strong boundaries now and I recognize when I start feeling the need to do for others in hope of gaining attention. When I feel that behavior surfacing I either remove myself from the environment because see the toxicity of it or I back way, way away from it until I can put it into the correct perspective and then act accordingly. If I see that I can help someone because they are trying to help themselves, than I am there. If I see that someone is just allowing me to do it for them so they won’t have to, I won’t. So if/when I am doing something for someone it is out of genuine love or friendship. Not out of need. That, I have discovered, is actually much more rewarding for both parties than the co-dependent need to be involved/recognized.
I am not saying that every person who has been hurt, used or taken advantage of is co-dependent either. Unfortunately there are some bad people out there who will still take advantage of good people. But as a whole, most people will recognize when they have made a mistake and got tied up with the wrong person vs someone who just gave and gave and gave in hopes of being loved, and when it didn’t happen they play victim. A healthy victim eventually becomes a survivor, but an unhealthy one remains a victim forever.
This weeks challenge is to evaluate the things you do for others. Are you doing it out of a genuine desire to help others grow or deep down are you hoping to feel more loved/needed/desired?
Do you take away from your own life and needs to make sure others needs are met.
Do you find yourself begrudging someone for not recognizing all your doing?
Is your need for attention so bad that you watch for ways to insert yourself into someone else’s life in the hope of being noticed? Do you send a message the moment you see the person on line and then feel rejected when they don’t get back to you immediately?
Or..do you do things for someone and appreciate the fact that they are now doing it themselves? Do you send that message and realize if they don’t get back to you they must be busy and will respond when they can?
Are you so busy living, creating, your life that you have to make time, which you do when you can, for others?
Most people appreciate and value help. You will not have to lose yourself to gain their attention. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like your truly being used or manipulated step back and evaluate your part in the situation. Have you created it? Are you feeding it? Do you need it to feel valued? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you need to get out of it. Quickly. It is not a healthy relationship for you or the other person.
You, deserve to be loved for who you are, not for what you’re doing. You should not have to lose yourself, sacrifice your needs, or anything else that takes you away from you in order to be loved. Give all that time, attention and love to yourself.
I hope you have a wonderful week and as always go out and Conquer whatever challenge you face.
Until next week, Conquer On!