Co-dependent relationships have many manifestations: a person can indulge the partner’s alcoholism or try to please the partner in everything, not having the determination to say no. Co-dependence may be related to drugs and psychotropic substances, emotional, physical, sexual abuse, chronic pain, or mental illness. Co-dependent relationships arise when one partner gives love through assistance, and the second feels love, receiving assistance. Such an exchange may give joy for some time, but this is a shaky relationship and at some point, one of the partners will feel miserable. Most often, the best way out of the situation is to break up such relationships altogether.
Recognize that you have a choice
You may feel as if you have no choice in these relationships. Nevertheless, a person is free to love a partner of their own choice, and not because of dependence. You have the right to end a disastrous or dangerous relationship. Recognize the ability to choose the best for yourself. It may seem that the relationship does not serve you as much as your partner. Is caring for a partner your responsibility? Think about the options available and the partner’s ability to choose.
Affirm your desire to end a relationship
Often, co-dependent people are so absorbed in caring for a partner that they begin to ignore their own needs, desires, and dreams. If you are ready to end the relationship, then show your desire to do so and realize that such a decision is your desire and even need. Before starting a conversation, remember that you have made a decision and are not going to negotiate or provide a second chance.
It is likely that a second chance has already been provided, but nothing has changed. If you stop co-dependent relationships, but the person remains in your life (parent, brother), then set tight boundaries. Be persistent, even if you are being asked to stay. Say, “I have carefully considered everything and am confident in my decision. You cannot convince me otherwise.”
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At the end of a co-dependent relationship, it is unlikely that you can simply leave and not even talk. A person may be confused due to a sharp change when their needs are no longer satisfied without further explanation. Choose a convenient moment and talk. You can say something like “I noticed that we have an unhealthy relationship. I practically do not care about myself. I think we need to set boundaries and end such relationships.”
Your decision may be taken with hostility. A person may be angry, upset, feel pain or sadness. Keep calm even if you are threatened. No need to raise your voice, scream or swear. Maintain a soft and calm voice. It is possible that the interlocutor will repeat your behavior. In case of accusations, say the following, “I am not going to discuss the past or argue. I’m just informing you of my feelings and my intention to end the relationship.”
We advise you to read an article on how to calm an angry person.
Express your feelings
Decide what you want to say. You can get by with the phrase like “you can’t go on like this” or describe in detail what exactly does not suit you. When talking about your feelings, it is better to focus on yourself and do without accusations. Try to speak in the first person.
For example, first-person phrases allow you to focus on your feelings and not blame the other person. Instead of the words: “You demand all my attention and use me,” say, “I devote all my time to you and constantly get tired. I do not like it.”
Think of what you were given in this relationship
Despite the discomfort, you probably got something from such a relationship. If the relationship does not bring satisfaction to the person, then they terminate them much earlier. Think about what the relationship gave you and why they no longer suit you. For example, you saw the goal of taking care of a person suffering from alcoholism or another disease. Perhaps you liked the feeling of a person’s need for you or control over the situation.
Learn to value yourself
It is very likely that at least part of your self-esteem depends on caring for others. Stop relying on outside assessment and learn to respect yourself without outside help. You may feel as if you just need others to recognize your value, but that is not the case. If you are going to end a co-dependent relationship, then think about what your self-esteem is based on. How do you perceive yourself? Who do you think you are and what you deserve? Does it seem easier for others to achieve success or well-being?