Gaining Respect in a Codependent Relationship
by: Kevin Peterson, M.A., LMFT
Codependent relationships are more common – and toxic – than you think. And especially when one of the partners in the relationship is an addict, codependent relationships can be extremely challenging, exhausting, and difficult to manage, leaving the other partner feeling used, unappreciated, and disrespected.
No one deserves to be disrespected by who they care about. It’s time to gain respect in the codependent relationship.
Get comfortable with saying “no”:
Codependent relationships are imbalanced, with one partner (also known as the “taker”) always expecting the other person (also known as the “giver”) to accommodate their needs. The giver always feels responsible for everyone else’s choices, needs, or wants, and is constantly making decisions for everyone else, at the expense of themselves. Getting comfortable with saying “no” is one of the first steps in gaining respect within a codependent relationship because you are putting the responsibility of the taker on themselves instead of on you.
Express your concerns:
In a codependent relationship, the giver typically never wants to share their feelings or concerns with anyone. Afterall, the giver focuses on the other person’s needs rather than their own. Often, this stems from a fear of not being liked or feeling good enough. It’s time to break from this negative thought pattern and voice your concerns to the other person. It’s normal for the other person to not respond well. They may lash out at you and get upset, but taking a stand on how you feel and expressing your needs draws a line in the sand between you and the other person.
In a codependent relationship, boundaries don’t exist. But they should. The taker takes advantage of the giver, crosses their boundaries, and the caregiver feels nothing other than the need to continuously take care of the other person. To gain respect in the relationship, think through the boundaries you want to create: What’s important to you? What will you tolerate or not tolerate? Then, share those boundaries with the other person in a calm and composed way.
Take time for yourself:
One of the hardest things to do in a codependent relationship is to prioritize yourself. But rather than being consumed with the other person’s needs or wants, take time for yourself. And this can be done in different ways. Go for a walk or read a book. Visit with a friend. Whatever it is that gives you time to enjoy on your own and distracts you from the needs of the other person.
Codependent relationships are hard to manage and it takes time, energy, and patience to heal from them. But to gain respect in the relationship, it’s important to take a stand and advocate for yourself.