My girlfriend is codependent.
And I found out the hard way.
I found out at the worst time:
Once I was already in the middle of a long-term relationship with her.
Notice the use of was.
All those behaviors I ignored as no big deal started to become a big deal. And I realized she was highly codependent in a toxic way that was negatively affecting my life, too.
I realized I was a few miles down a deep hole and I had only two choices:
Keep sinking down to an unreachable pit or start digging my way out.
I chose option two.
And I hope you will, too.
So, what is codependency?
It’s actually pretty simple:
Codependency is a relationship where one or both of those involved are overly emotionally dependent.
Their happiness and fulfillment of the other person.
As the shaman, Rudá Iandê teaches in his free masterclass on finding true love and intimacy – which I highly, highly recommend – codependent people usually fall into two categories:
And the savior.
In my relationship, this is definitely how it played out. And once I saw the ugly signs I couldn’t unsee them.
I realized I was playing the “savior” to my girlfriend’s victim narrative. But instead of feeling like a hero, I felt like a chump.
And I wanted out.
My partner is codependent – and codependency isn’t cool
I don’t demand perfection. Never have.
Not of myself or others.
I’m also not a spiritual narcissist, and I’m not a dick (not most of the time, anyway).
But the codependency of my girlfriend wasn’t about me feeling uncomfortable or “bummed out.”
It was realizing that I was feeding into a negative emotional attachment pattern that was actually hurting her as well as me.
And who wants to be part of a relationship that’s actually harming both partners?
So, for that reason I want to share this list with you:
The big red flags I noticed showed me my partner is codependent. This is my list of the 15 signs that gave it away.
Here we go.
My partner is codependent: 15 signs that gave it away
1) She constantly flogged her self-esteem to get attention and validation
Here’s what I mean:
My girlfriend would constantly be down on herself in order to get attention and validation.
All of us have moments of self-doubt and sadness.
But she would take these moments and exaggerate and weaponize them.
She would milk her self-doubts for pity, validation, promises and much more.
I was expected to provide almost constant validation.
At first, it started slowly, and I was still very attracted to various things about her so I brushed it off …
But later once things got more serious it became legit creepy.
She would need me to repeat positive things about her over and over.
And she never believed me anyway.
It took a while until I realized that was a game I was never going to win.
2) She never let me say no
This isn’t completely true.
I did say no once or twice:
And she never let me forget it.
Tears, drama, late-night calls for weeks obsessing over why she wasn’t “good enough” for me and how she knew I had met another girl.
If I wasn’t all there for her all the time she made it clear that I’d basically ruined her life.
But the truth is:
She was ruining mine.
And it fucking sucked.
So if you’re in this situation I highly urge you to take a reality check and find out if you’re in love or just addicted to unhealthy attachment.
You can do this by checking out the free masterclass on love and intimacy below.
3) She expected me to be in touch 24/7
One time I made the “mistake” of switching my phone off during a nap on Saturday.
Let’s just say I didn’t repeat that again.
My girlfriend expected me to be in touch and reachable literally all the time.
If I was really busy she would give me five minutes or so of “flex time” but more or less it was a constant expectation to answer texts, calls, or instant messages immediately.
At first, it was kind of cute.
She was so into me that I let it get to my ego, instead of noticing how toxic it was.
Later on, I realized the truth:
Her fear of abandonment was triggering her into constantly “checking in” with me.
But it all became way too much for me.
4) She emotionally blackmailed me
Looking at this list I’m realizing it might seem like I’m making myself out to be perfect or like I did nothing bad in the relationship.
That’s not the case.
I was far from perfect when I was with my girlfriend:
Sometimes I was lazy, irritated, angry, depressed.
But I tried to keep the games to a minimum.
I can’t say the same for her.
She would tell me these emotionally devastating stories from her childhood or about an ex and then cuddle up to me and tell me how I was different.
She constantly made it clear to me that if I ever left her or let her down it would wreck her whole life.
I became the only person “keeping her alive,” and it actually started to feel really shitty.
5) She had no boundaries
Like I said, I was far from perfect in the relationship.
One of my less “pleasant” traits is that I can be a little bit pushy.
This characteristic of me was made even worse when I was with my girlfriend because she had no boundaries.
If I told her to make dinner she did it.
If I pressured her to do an activity in bed with me she did it.
I’m not proud of that, in fact, I’m a little bit ashamed.
But she never stood up for herself, and even when she did things with me that she wasn’t that into she would use them later to emotionally blackmail me.
“Well, I always do what you want, so …”
You get the picture.
Our relationship honestly brought out the worst in me. And I take responsibility for that.
Which is why I walked away.
6) She pressured me to put her above my family
Some members of my family require extra care and I have a close relationship with my parents and my sister.
My ex constantly tried to make me feel bad if I spent time with them or even talked about them.
It isn’t that she’d tell me not to.
After all, her personality (on the surface) was all about people-pleasing.
But she made it obvious that there wasn’t room for her and my family in our relationship.
She created this false choice:
Me or your family.
I’d never been in that kind of situation before where a partner made me feel guilty for … caring about my family.
So it was a new one for me.
And it was really bizarre and overwhelming.
While the signs in this article will help you deal with a codependent girlfriend, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice tailored to the specific issues you’re facing in your love life.
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people navigate complex and difficult love situations, like having a codependent girlfriend. They’re popular because they genuinely help people solve problems.
Why do I recommend them?
Well, after going through difficulties in my own love life, I reached out to them a few months ago. After feeling helpless for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship, including practical advice on how to overcome the issues I was facing.
I was blown away by how genuine, understanding and professional they were.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice specific to your situation.
7) She made me run her life
This was a big sign:
Flashing marquee in downtown Vegas type sign …
She made me the judge of her decisions and life choices.
And, frankly, I have enough going on running my own.
Being expected to make decisions for her about everything from her diet to her family relationships and clothing purchases became fucking exhausting.
Excuse my language.
Even thinking back on it makes me realize a disturbing thing:
She wanted me to run her life so she could feel secure, but no matter what I decided it always was somehow not good enough and she was still the victim.
8) My responsibilities meant nothing to her
I have a family member who’s autistic and sometimes needs extra attention.
I also have a high-pressure job.
But when I was with my girlfriend she acted like my responsibilities was completely unimportant.
I was only an object for her:
An emotional fulfillment object (EFO).
The worst was when she fake-sympathized with me.
She would say things like:
“Oh yeah I know you have a lot going on, but …”
That “but” became the bane of my fucking existence, let me tell you.
Honestly, she had a lot of good qualities, but this young lady made codependency into an art form.
And that was a Pablo Picasso painting that I did not want to be part of.
9) Her mood always depended on me
Let me be more specific:
If she was in a good mood it was up to me to “maintain” it.
How do you spell fun? In that case, you spell it as f u c k t h i s.
I have a secret for everyone:
I don’t always have a great day myself. In fact, just today was less than amazing.
Work pressure, issues with my friends. Shit gets to me, too.
Now that I’m single again I can take time to myself, crank out some music and chill.
But with her, I was a “custodian” to her emotional state 24 hours a day.
Even if she called me up at 3 a.m. crying my job was to listen and sympathize, because her life was so hard (and mine wasn’t?)
Like I said:
Codependency isn’t cool.
10) She made my life into her life
Sharing things together is one of the good things about relationships.
But my girlfriend didn’t just appreciate or share in some parts of my life.
She basically took it over and made it her own.
My friends became her friends (not really, but in her mind).
My interests became her interests (really, who would have known she would end up getting that into tennis despite her bad knee).
This girl was like a colonial country occupying my life.
She planted her feminine flag in every corner of my existence.
She also basically moved into my apartment without asking me. It started with her toothbrush and ended with me realizing she hadn’t left her own place in four days.
So, she liked me a lot, so what?
More like she wanted to control and be part of every part of my life.
At first, I was flattered, later I was annoyed as hell.
11) She constantly tried to win the ‘victim game’
If there were a Victim Olympics my girlfriend would have had enough gold medals to fill Fort Knox.
She was that good.
I’m talking about a professional victim.
Her boss ignored her; her boss was too pushy and always around.
Her brother was pissing her off because he kept asking for money; she wished her family would appreciate her more.
She didn’t grow up in a loving home, therefore she was scared of commitment, but she also felt like I wasn’t committed enough to our relationship.
I had this constant pressurized feeling that it was up to me to “fix” our relationship.
Yikes, yikes, yikes.
God forbid anything went the slightest bit wrong in her day:
I would hear about it for hours. She would cry and vent and I would start to wonder if I was really attracted enough to her to put up with this shit.
And in the end, the answer was no.
12) She kept a scorecard
Toxic codependent behaviors should have this one at the top.
Let me be clear:
She didn’t literally keep a scorecard, but damn could that girl keep track of every time she’d done something nice and how I owed her.
Maybe it’s the fact that she’s an accountant, maybe it was just her codependent nature.
But she made me feel like the spotlight was on me at all times.
And it actually made me resent even the nice things I did for her.
Because I felt like I was being tracked and monitored at all times.
She would rarely outwardly complain but she’d do these passive-aggressive things and use intimacy to manipulate me.
And the basis of her decisions was always this invisible scorecard where my actions and behavior were being judged.
13) She made me feel guilty
This is basically the main emotion I remember from our relationship:
There was always something I was doing that should have been more …
This unhealthy codependent feeling that I wasn’t doing enough to rescue or care for her kept creeping up on me.
And she encouraged it and stoked that fire of shame.
I let it keep burning, thinking it was passion and love.
But it was actually full of poisonous burning plastic fumes.
And I’m just glad I decided to leave that dumpster fire behind and go in the other direction before it turned into a forest fire.
14) She used sex to manipulate me
Aw, poor guy, my girlfriend didn’t always want to sleep with me.
Well, not quite.
In fact, what happened in many cases was the opposite:
She would flood me with intimacy, sex, and affection seemingly for no reason, and then yank it back and become an ice queen.
Meanwhile there I was just wondering what the hell was going on.
Then I finally noticed the pattern:
When I gave in to her victim narrative and sympathized and played the “savior” she beckoned me to bed like a delicious temptress …
But when I didn’t respond enough to satisfy her codependent tendencies or held back she went cold.
It all became very transactional:
I was basically paying for sex by playing the codependency game and reinforcing negative patterns that were making her less confident and more miserable deep down.
Harsh, I know.
But I didn’t come here to tell you lies.
15) She put me on a pedestal
I like to think I’m a good guy. Like I said, I’m not a dick (most of the time).
But my girlfriend worshiped me.
Sounds pretty good right?
It gets tiring and kind of weird to be held up as some ideal of perfection by someone you’re in a relationship with.
I’m a flawed human like the rest of us, and I can’t always live up to the pedestal that she put me on.
I began to feel like I was playing a part in some community theater program.
That of the “perfect boyfriend.”
Here’s where you ask how her day was and stroke her hair and pretend to sympathize that not everything went perfectly for her today and her life is the hardest ever.
I just reached the end of my ability to be part of that drama.
And I’m honestly glad I made the decision to walk away.
But as for what you should do, that’s another subject:
What should you do if your partner is codependent?
Spoiler: I can’t make that decision for you.
What I can say is:
Do not commit yourself further into a toxic relationship.
Do not seek validation and fulfillment through a dependent attachment.
That’s not love.
Real love and respect are far different, and it starts with loving yourself.
With my (ex)-girlfriend I now understand a lot more looking back. She grew up in a rough home with parents who didn’t have time for her.
She learned a lesson that she wasn’t “good enough” and started to emphasize her victimhood to get what she wanted.
And that continued playing out in relationships, unfortunately.
I still care about her, really.
But I’m not in love with her. And I made the conscious decision not to continue feeding into the codependent addiction with her.
That’s something she has to work through on her own (and I have my own codependent-prone things to work through too with my “savior” instincts).
Nobody’s perfect like I said at the beginning.
But we do have the opportunity to improve and be a force for good in each other’s lives.
And that’s why I decided to leave and work on myself.
Codependent people and those with “codependent tendencies” have to work on their issues on their own.
The more they grasp for outside solutions, “love” and validation the worse their problems will get – and the bigger the letdown will be in the end.
Interdependence and supporting one another is awesome:
But codependence is something else entirely.
It’s not about support, it’s about toxic expectation and always taking emotions and validations you need …
So, whether you should leave or not can be a tough question:
Your decision is up to you – and your partner.
All I can say is:
Nobody else can fix you and the best love has no conditions put on it.