For decades, we’ve been exposed to intoxicating professions of love from our favorite Hollywood stars. Aspiring to obtain the same of type of love that swept them off of their feet—or, resulted in them dashing from a line at the airport and breaking every traffic law just to swoop their love into their arms and kiss them passionately, we feel duped if this isn’t our experience. But have we been misled?
Like any other woman, I have fantasized about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of this type of love. In our culture, it’s common to hear things like, “I want someone who completes me!” or “I desire someone I can’t live without!” I’ve even been guilty in the past of saying “I love hard. I give all of myself. I just want someone who is willing to do the same!”
Let’s look at what these statements imply. They point to another person being assigned the role as the source of life for us, the source of our contentment and joy, the source of anything worth living for. Pretty dangerous territory we’re venturing into folks.
If you think about it, this type of love, or high, shall I say, is short-lived. Here are the reasons why:
- We’re doing relationship opposite a flawed human being who will undoubtedly fall short even in their best attempts.
- The more we’re fed, the more our appetite grows. Which means, what generated a sense of contentment in us yesterday won’t be good enough for us tomorrow.
A person who enters this kind of relationship equates love to happiness (or the attainment of something else strived for). When this foundation becomes shaky, it’s easy to then feel unloved.
Codependency is an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. If your life is hinged on how good or how bad your relationship is, it’s likely that you are codependent. While some characteristics of codependency can be very subtle, they are just as harmful. Here are the key symptoms of codependency:
- An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
- A tendency to try to rescue people
- A tendency to do more than your share, all of the time
- A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize your efforts
- An unhealthy dependence on relationships. A tendency to do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
- Intense shame and low self-esteem; struggle to feel good enough
- An extreme need for approval and recognition; people pleasing
- A sense of guilt when asserting yourself
- A compelling need to control others
- Lack of trust in self and/or others
- Fear of being abandoned or alone
- Difficulty identifying feelings
- Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
- Problems with intimacy/boundaries
- Poor communication skills
- Difficulty making decisions
- Tendency to obsess over other people and relationships
For the codependent, what constitutes love is extremely distorted. Frantic attempts to grab ahold of what seems to give the greatest promise of love, someone bitten by the codependency bug finds themselves in the same relationship over and over again with different co-stars.
This is not something I am talking about as an outsider. I was codependent for the better part of my life and still have moments where the behaviors rear their ugly head. A few of the things I have learned as I’ve tackled my own codependency:
- God is my source of life (man is not capable of filling this role)
- Love is not what I see in the movies; that is often times disguised or glamorized codependency
- I cannot require love or any other affection from my significant other
- Love is a choice and an action, not a feeling
- Rejection does not equal abandonment
- If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it
- My love and trust of others is the result of my relationship with God
- Shame comes from the enemy (satan)
- Guilt can be a healthy component of growth (when it’s revealing a point of conviction)
- Guilt as a motivation to act is unhealthy
- My motives must align with God’s Word or His purposes for me
My prayer is that you do an honest assessment of yourself and the symptoms of codependency. If you weren’t aware prior to now, congratulations on identifying your unhealthy patterns. Please take the time to unravel the tangled web of codependency, do your research, and learn how to replace your behaviors with those that are healthier and more conducive to obtaining true joy and peace. This can be a challenging journey (believe me I know) but feel free to reach out if you need help getting started.
Resources used for this post are