How to avoid becoming co-dependent with your partner during quarantine
- Co-dependency is a pattern of prioritising a relationship over your own needs, oftentimes paired with the feeling that you need the relationship to live.
- New York City-based therapist Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown told Insider if your partner isn't keeping up with friends and family, then there's a strong chance you might be heading in the direction of codependency.
- She recommends communicating directly, setting up time apart, and keeping in touch with old support networks to avoid codependence.
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From images of stressed couples trying to work from home in cramped quarters to the #coronadivorce hashtag on Twitter, it's clear that quarantines have put a strain on many relationships. Some people are in such desperate need for space from their partners they're checking into hotels.
But for people with codependent tendencies, quarantine might be having the opposite effect on how much they want to be around their partner, leading to problems with boundaries.
Codependency is a pattern of behavior where a person prioritises a relationship - whether it be with a lover or family member - over their own needs, according to Healthline. Typically, people who are codependent feel like they need the relationship to live, even if they're miserable in it.
With all the extra time indoors during coronavirus lockdown, people with codependent tendencies are able to feed into these unhealthy habits without interruption.
New York City-based therapist Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown spoke to Insider about the ways to spot codependence and practice healthier attachment styles.
- Couples are more likely to become codependent because they are unable to have lives outside of the home right now
Lockdowns mean many of the out-of-the-house activities that once provided healthy boundaries between couples, like work and hanging out with friends, are more scarce.
Because these activities give people a sense of individuality, Robinson-Brown said couples may be more susceptible right now to losing their sense of self.
"Couples who are literally only seeing each other during this time may become codependent because they are now looking to each other to fill all of the needs that are typically met by engaging in some of these other activities," she said.
While partners can't physically go places to see friends, Robinson-Brown said a major sign of codependence is if you notice your partner talking to friends and family less on the phone or online.
- Don't shame yourself or your partner for codependence
If you notice you and your partner are spending a concerning amount of time together, Robinson-Brown said it's key to simply communicate that with them. But make sure to do it without judgment.
"Codependence can happen to anyone especially in this time of quarantine and isolation," Robinson-Brown said. "Outlets that we would normally have that help us to stay grounded in who we are as individuals aren't as accessible. It's important not to shame your partner or yourself."
Talking about the issues you're noticing and coming up with a game plan to address them will help you and your partner stay on the same page.
Make an effort to stay connected to friends and family
Though physical distance from your partner might be difficult to realistically get, planning separate video chats with friends and family in different rooms can help create healthy boundaries between you and your partner.
"There are still ways to connect with friends, family, support groups, meditation groups, group exercise even in quarantine," Robinson-Brown said.
If you and your friends used to have margarita Mondays together, plan them over Zoom. If you and your grandmother used to have Sunday coffee together, give her a call while you two brew it from your own kitchens. Maintaining separate support systems outside of the relationship is key.
"Set up virtual calls, join a virtual dinner party, give your friends and family a call, hop on social media, and attend a DJ session or music battle where you can converse with others," Robinson-Brown said.
Making sure you and your partner have alone time is also key, so setting quiet hours or walks apart from each other could be useful.
- Spending time with your partner can feel good, but becoming codependent will hurt you down the line
Spending a lot of time with your partner might feel comforting - especially during the stress of the pandemic - but can lead to toxicity down the road, so it's important to address codependence when you spot it.
"While it can feel good in the moment, it means that individuals are not dealing with unhealthy behavioral patterns (because they are being enabled) and it will likely impact other relationships as well," Robinson-Brown said.
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