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Are you dating a guy right now who seems super clingy? Does he smother you with affection to the point that it turns you off? Does he constantly need validation? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you may have a codependent partner.
In the context of romantic relationships, having a codependent partner is the dynamic wherein a person relies on another to meet all of their self-esteem needs.
Typically people who are involved with a codependent partner feel completely exhausted, mostly because they expend so much energy attending to their mate’s needs.
So how do you know if you are involved with someone who has this problem? Are there any warning signs? Moreover, what can be done to create positive change?
What follows are five red flags that may suggest your man is codependent. It’s important to read them all in context and not focus on just one thing. Are you ready? Let’s jump right in.
1. Low self-esteem
One of the main hallmarks of a codependent partner is low self-esteem. If your boyfriend is constantly fishing for compliments or regularly looks to you for validation, consider this a strong warning sign.
2. Fears of abandonment
People who are codependent live with deep fears of being abandoned. As a result, they need to know where their partners are during all times of the day.
If he’s check-calling you throughout the day or making accusations of infidelity that aren’t based in fact, consider this a bright red flag.
3. Can’t make simple decisions
Does your man struggle with making simple decisions? Does he seek out your advice for trivial matters, like what clothes to wear or how to talk to others?
Does he regularly fail to take the initiative on planning dates, leaving you to figure everything out?
If any of this resonates, codependency is the likely culprit. A codependent partner doesn’t feel emotionally strong enough to make his own decisions. As a result, he leans on others to do so for him.
4. Needs excessive validation
Does your man regularly ask if “everything is OK”? Do you constantly have to tell him how you feel? Does he need to be reassured ad nauseam that you don’t want to break up?
If so, consider these warning signs.
People with codependency require ongoing validation in order to feel secure. In romantic relationships this means hounding a partner for affection as a way of medicating deep anxiety.
5. Feels victimized
If your man is a codependent partner, there’s a good chance he’s a people pleaser. In other words, he goes out of his way to make others happy but neglects his own needs in the process.
As a result, he is left feeling victimized, never feeling appreciated for his efforts.
If this sounds familiar, consider it to be another red flag.
Can anything be done?
If you suspect your boyfriend is a codependent partner, there are things you can do. Probably the most helpful thing is to sit down and have an honest conversation about what’s going on.
Using a caring but direct approach, let him know that his behaviors are weakening the relationship. It’s OK to share your observations — just don’t be a jerk about it.
Additionally, it may be helpful to suggest that he work with a therapist to explore his issues. This may help him to better understand the root of his behaviors and to go about the business of change.
To keep it real, this kind of discussion won’t be easy. But if your relationship is to survive, it needs to happen. Otherwise, things will only get worse.