Is It Bad To Be Codependent?

Have you ever wondered whether you are too dependent on your partner? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines codependency as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)” or “broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another”. Of course it is bad to be codependent based upon the first definition; the broad definition is where I believe many people run into trouble.

Codependent is a misleading and often misinterpreted word. I have seen numerous posts on social media basically referring to any relationship where you’re “co-depend” on one another as toxic…that we should have everything in our life together and figured out before we even try looking for someone to date. This thinking is not only a misinterpretation of the word, it is toxic itself.

If you’re waiting until you have everything together and not going to bring any baggage or negative energy into a relationship before you look for one, you’re either going to die single or you’re a liar. No one is perfect. Everyone brings negativity into relationships. Of course if that’s all you’re bringing, that’s a problem. But my fear is that many people buy this lie that we should have everything figured out before we jump or that our partner shouldn’t have any issues.

This attitude breeds a toxic idea that will consume any relationship. If your expectation is that you or your partner should have all their shit together, shame and judgement are going to run rampant in your relationship. Worse, it eliminates the possibility of real love and turns marriage into a conditional contract, ripped up anytime either person makes any major mistakes (which is undoubtedly going to happen because both people are flawed humans).

If you don’t depend on anyone for anything, you are the one with the problem. Humans are built to rely on one another in community. We do need each other. Any healthy relationship is co-dependent in terms of each person relying on the other for some of their needs. A healthy marriage is one of give and take, sharing responsibilities, sacrificing, and putting their needs in front of your own (as long as these are healthy needs).

Being codependent in this way is not weak…it is love. This toxic view that you’re weak or broken or disqualified from a relationship because you are going to “need” or rely on something from that other person is prideful, arrogant, and selfish to its core. Unfortunately, this self-reliance on steroids is killing people’s chance for happiness and love.

An Unconditional Love Poem – All My Affection

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All My Affection – An Unconditional Love Poem

I have learned about love
from the way you have loved me –
embracing my flaws and imperfections,
even when I crumble in self-loathing, ready to accept defeat.

Your compassion dances around me,
turns attention away from my often clumsy feet.
Its rhythmic motions sway in a relaxed manner,
abounding even when I fall and never miss a beat.

Eyes like a campfire radiating loving warmth,
they let me know you take me as I am.
No need for perfection or a false self –
faithfulness and my love are your only demands.

Your ability to love me as broken as I am
gives me the confidence to embrace my own imperfection.
Your grace outweighs this lead-filled bag of failures,
and your heart has all my affection.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

It’s easy to say, “I love you”. It’s quite another thing to act out, “I love you”. We live in a world where divorce and infidelity are rampant. Love has lost its meaning and has become only something you say to someone you care about, but is not unconditional. Unconditional love is much stronger than the weak adjective you use in the beginning of a relationship to describe your feelings. It is a verb that acts even when the adjective is missing.

There are circumstances that demand that your love be conditional, such as domestic abuse, because you love yourself and your children; however, far too often we quit on love because we think it is meant to be easy…that wonderful adjective that we first felt. We forget that true love, unconditional love,  is meant to stretch our character – to learn how to forgive, learn how to give grace to another, and ultimately to act out love’s true meaning.

We all want unconditional love, but in order to get it we must give it. Unconditional love doesn’t ignore a partner’s flaws or pretend that they don’t exist, but loves despite those things and helps provide support in overcoming those imperfections as a unit.

Everyone has deep flaws, no matter how good their strengths are. Weaknesses in either partner should not be held in solitary confinement – never spoken of and never visited. Elimination of those weaknesses should be the goal, but never the condition. If you love with the expectation that your partner will change someday, you’re not really loving at all.

A partnership can be dissolved anytime one of the individuals involved fails to meet the terms of the agreement. Unconditional love, on the other hand, is something entirely different. When you love someone unconditionally, you love them even when they aren’t meeting the terms of the agreement. And in turn, hopefully they love you when you aren’t.

But loving someone unconditionally doesn’t depend on them loving you back unconditionally. You can’t control another person. All you can do is do your best everyday to love without demands or requirements. We all fail at love. Sometimes you fail. Sometimes they fail. Sometimes you both fail together. But when unconditional love is the ultimate goal – when you define love as a verb and not an adjective – love provides the strength to carry one another and transcends the imperfections that we all have inside of us.

Do you want a partnership or unconditional love? You can’t have both. We all want to be unconditionally loved, but often only want to give a partnership. It’s easy to make a list of the ways they are failing us. It’s much more difficult to inventory the way we are failing them. There are circumstances where the person you love has betrayed you so deeply that the relationship may not be sustainable. But in today’s society, I think we are all too quick to point fingers and point out each other’s flaws instead of looking at ours and theirs, together as a whole.

You may also like my romantic love poems,“The Wings of a Fighter” and “I Want To Walk With You”