Is Your Friendship Bordering On Codependency? Look At The Signs!
Friends are an important part of our lives. Not only for our social development but also our emotional and mental development, the involvement of friends in our lives plays an important role. They are our most trusted companions and confidants who stand by us through thick and thin, but what happens when you begin to depend on them too much?
Toxic friendships are a reality that many of us refuse to believe. Not all friendships can be supportive and affectionate. Just like codependency can be unhealthy in a relationship, it can be equally unhealthy and toxic in a friendship.
When you’re codependent, you rely too much on others’ care, putting others’ needs before yours, and feel a strange kind of “hero complex”. It could be often hard to separate codependency from healthy friendships as the early stages of any friendship can rely on all the aforementioned traits.
Below, I’ve listed some common signs of codependency in friendships and what you can do to fix a codependent friendship.
What Is A Codependent Friendship?
Close friends are important but in enmeshed friendships or codependent friendships, all boundaries are absent. Boundaries in any relationship define your limits and separate your needs from those of others. Without boundaries, a relationship can’t thrive for long.
Enmeshed friendship means that both persons have lost their sense of identity and share almost everything – from emotions, and decisions, to needs and views. While these can be common, in an enmeshed or codependent friendship, the line differentiating these is all but gone.
Loving your friends isn’t wrong but when the line between love and boundaries seems to disappear, then the friendship can turn from healthy to toxic.
Signs Of A Codependent Friendship
1. One Always “Needs” The Other
It’s OK to ask for attention and support from our friends but when it becomes a habit where one person always rescues the other, it can be a sign of a codependent friendship. Friendships are always two-way. A codependent or enmeshed friendship lack give and take.
2. One Always Fixes The Other’s Problems
In a codependent friendship, one person can always be found fixing the other’s problems. They spend a lot of time and energy on the other and ignore their own needs and problems. They are never the subject of “receiving” the same.
3. One Always Feel Drained
After a person spends all their energy on helping the other friend, they are left with no emotional energy and feel drained. Friendships are meant to make you feel energized and refreshed, not drained. So if you feel drained after an interaction with your friend, then it could be a sign of a codependent friendship.
4. One Always Put The Other’s Needs First
One of the major signs of codependent friendships is that one friend always seems to put the others’ needs before theirs. Because boundaries are nonexistent, it can become difficult to define where one’s needs begin and another ends.
5. One’s Mood Always Affects The Other’s
If your friend is in a bad mood or upset, then you’ll also feel the same. Again, the lack of boundaries can make emotions enmeshed, and the friendship can begin to dictate your mood instead. This kind of emotional sharing is very different from empathy.
6. One Always Feel Guilty
Codependent friends who end up enmeshed can also begin to feel guilty for having different opinions, needs, and emotions than their friends. The thought of having a different need can make them feel guilty.
7. One Always Rely On The Other
If you’re in a codependent friendship, then you or your friend have begun to rely on each other for emotional needs. For example, one of you will always rely on the other for self-esteem or importance. It’s OK to depend on others but when your sense of self begins to depend on others, that’s where the relationship can turn toxic.
8. One Feels Jealous Of The Other’s Relationships
When you’re in a codependent friendship, then your other relationships can make your enmeshed friend feel jealous. They may become upset with you for having other friends or people in your life. They may feel threatened by others’ presence.
What To Do If You Have A Codependent Friend:?
1. Start At The Beginning
Look at the beginning of your friendship. Why and how did you end up in this predicament? Usually, the sense of self-worth and importance can be rooted in childhood upbringing so it can be good to start there. If you need a therapist’s help, don’t hesitate to reach out to one.
2. Prioritize Yourself
Start with setting boundaries. Understand your limits and put them forth. Talk to your friend and communicate honestly. It all begins with you so when you’re taking care of yourself and your needs, only then you’ll be able to care for others.
3. Be Ready For Change
It’s normal for the “taker” friend to react badly or break off all ties so be ready for the change. If your friendship is to change, then you should be ready to accept the fallout. If your friend is interested in changing their ways and accepting boundaries, then they’ll stay and try to change.
If You’re A Codependent Friend:
1. Understand The Problem
What happened that changed your friendship from healthy to codependent? If your friend fails to see the problem, then you need to. Set your boundaries and take charge of your self-importance. Ask for a therapist’s help if you think you need it.
2. Take Care Of Yourself
Healthy friendships are about relying on each other but not too much, so set boundaries by taking care of yourself. Try journaling, expanding your support network, and participating in solo activities.
3. Remember, Give And Take
Friendships, like any other relationship, are about give-and-take. If you find yourself asking your friend for support more, then make sure you ask them if they need the support too. You need to understand when your friend is giving too much. Let them know that your love does not depend on how much they give.
Healthy friendships, just like any healthy relationships, include healthy boundaries where each person involved knows and recognizes their desires, needs, and opinions and is not afraid to share them. When these desires and needs are enmeshed, then where it can become troublesome.
Friendships are about give-and-take. It’s never about taking too much or giving too less. The two-way relationship between friends is about sharing love, support, and care with each other, equally.
Nobody can be perfect, but we can all try to be perfect humans for our loved ones. Friends never turn away from each other or demean each other. Instead, they yell and criticize us for our benefit. The love between friends is unmatched and unconditional. But, too much love can become toxic.
I hope this blog helped you understand the difference between healthy love and support and codependent and enmeshed friendship.
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