I Don't Want It If it's That Easy...
When you’re used to having to work for love, you tend to be someone who doesn’t give up too easily. You’ve been trained to believe that just being you isn’t good enough, so you get really good at going that extra mile to get people not just to like you, but to stay with you and choose you.
The truth is, Codependency is a coping strategy learned in childhood to help us cope with traumatic events. The problem with that coping style is that it’s other person, or externally focused. It requires a suppression of needs in favour of those of others. It makes it feel normal and comfortable to then tip toe around the moods of abusive people. The profound message that someone with codependent traits keeps receiving is that everything is their fault, because they’re not good enough. The side effects of that are insecurity, low self-esteem, low self-worth, shame, anxiety, guilt, fear and feeling very uncomfortable in your own skin.
Healthy relationships are about two autonomous people, who choose to come together to create a life together, while at the same time, they continue to be themselves, be responsible for themselves and they continue to have separate interests outside of the relationship. A codependent tends to lose themselves in relationships. They generally choose people who have problems and they become fixated on those problems, while pretending that they have no expectations or needs and subsequently, neglect their own lives in the process.
The problem with codependency and dating is this. Most clients with whom I have worked who have codependent traits also tend to have a very serious problem with rejection. For a codependent, rejection often doesn’t mean it’s over. What it means to them is that they have to try harder/that they’ve done something wrong/that it’s all their fault and they spend an enormous amount of energy trying to make it right and to be chosen.
If it doesn’t work out, even after only a short period of dating, the codependent is devastated. They’ve made the rejection all about them. They believe that if only they had done x,y or z differently then they might have stood a chance. They keep trying to impress their partner, by trying harder, by giving more, by morphing into what they’ve observed as clues as to what the perfect partner would be… ‘if they weren’t them, then they would have been chosen,’ is the message they take away. They want to be chosen so badly that they over-give to the point of being exploited. Except that they don’t notice. So fixated are they on changing their partners minds they can’t see how their behaviour is being perceived.
Even when faced with a statement like, “We want different things, “ many a codependent won’t give up there. They will keep hanging on waiting for their opportunity to change their potential partner’s mind. Letting go doesn’t even resonate with them, because somewhere in the recesses of their mind they believe that if they are finally chosen it will make everything else in their life okay.
They require external validation. So being chosen will allow them to feel good about themselves. “As long as you choose me, you see me as a good person, worthy of love, then and only then can I believe that about myself too,” they believe. It may also be a chance for redemption for them to prove to their disapproving, abusive parents that they were good enough after all. When they get rejected again it just confirms all of their worst childhood fears.
What the codependent seems to miss are that their repeated attempts to be chosen and to make others stay only weaken them in the eyes of those whom they pursue. Ironically, a codependent is usually drawn to the commitment-phobe, who will always abandon so both parties receive the pay off that they unconsciously search for to confirm their Script beliefs. When you show someone that you don’t respect yourself enough to walk away when you’re being mistreated, you open yourself up to being exploited if your love interest just happens to be an emotional manipulator. It gives them the message that you do not have boundaries and that they can treat you however they please, because you will still be there, regardless of what they do.
They aren’t going to wake up one day and realise, “Hey, that Heather is a real catch. I’ve ignored her, treated her like crap many, many times and she’s hung in there. What a great girl. I think I’ll make a commitment.” Sure, they might hitch a free ride with you, let you bend over backwards to take care of them, but ultimately, they will never give you the commitment that you truly seek because they’ve stopped taking you seriously. That’s the con and gimmick – chasing after something that does not actually exist.
By staying you are inadvertently telling them, “I accept this relationship on your terms and I’m willing to put up with copious amounts of your crap for a few scraps of your affection.”
Advice to Live By:
- When what’s being offered isn’t what you want – that’s your cue to leave. When you realise that you are not on the same page don’t try to change their stance or yours – you accept it and you move on.
- When you are being treated disrespectfully it’s time to go – no excuses, no minimising and rationalising. Just go.
- Pay attention to your feelings, if you are feeling hurt, or disrespected – if you’re being ignored, ghosted – that’s your cue to end it.
- You don’t have to try so hard to be liked – if being you isn’t good enough – stick a fork in it. If you sense them pulling away, be mindful of your emotional state. Battle the desire to put on a song and dance for them to spark their interest. Relationships only work when both people want to be in it.
- You cannot have a healthy relationship and neglect your own needs at the same time. Make sure that you are not doing all the work – doing all the planning, paying for everything, making all the sacrifices… if there’s no reciprocity there’s no relationship and your setting yourself up to be used.
You cannot have a healthy relationship if you keep choosing unhealthy partners. Your leaving says a lot more about how you value yourself than your staying ever will. Always practice self-care and make sure that you are acting in your own best interest.