What does a healthy friendship look like compared to a codependent one?
I’m just at the beginning stages of discovering the answer to that question. From what I know so far I can say that you should not impose your expectations for friendship on your friends. You should value the differences you see in them and accept what they freely offer. Also, you can depend on them to a certain extent, but with a healthy relationship it’s not life or death if you are not with them.
Obviously love is a part of a friendship, but now I’m learning to love others unconditionally. We all fail but you have to leave room for failure in a friendship because we’re all human so disappointment and mistakes are bound to happen.
I’ve also discovered that relationships are not all about me. It’s about loving and serving the other person. Also a good friendship is really about how we can point each other toward Jesus Christ (the only one who can meet all our needs) and build each other up.
God has taught me a lot about forgiveness too. I had to forgive people in my past for what they did to me. Now I have to forgive myself for what I did to Anna.
Holding onto my past hurts facilitated a lot of my actions. I know that a healthy friendship brings freedom. I’m so much more relaxed now. I have lots of friends but I don’t go to any one friend before I go to God. I don’t need any friends or one best friend. I know now that God alone fulfills all my needs, sometimes directly, sometimes through others.
How can someone recognize this pattern in their own life?
I think there always has to be a more dominant person in a codependent relationship. You could be the dominant one. I was the dominant one.
The dominant one takes the initiative. The dominant one has all the expectations of the other person and can feel like the other person doesn’t measure up.
Often as the dominant one in the relationship, I felt sad or lonely. When I hung out with other people, my heart would not be fully engaged with them. I would think of her instead. People considered us to be very close. The thought of ever breaking away from each other was horrifying. I invested a lot in her. I shared my emotions with her. I never got as close to anyone as I did with her.
That’s another pattern of codependency — only letting that one person get close and not letting others get close to you. Even if someone were to show me, I still didn’t see at all how I was codependent on Anna. It is very much a process of discovering on my own the kind of lifestyle I was living.
I am a stubborn person too. I didn’t quite want to give her friendship up, as unhealthy as it was. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t want to break off this friendship because I was scared of the unknown.
All I knew was what I was comfortable with and I didn’t want to separate myself from that comfort. I wanted to change my life but I didn’t want to take the necessary step. It took months and months of God working on my heart and mind and drawing near to God, which made me realize just how unhealthy my relationship had been.
What are some key questions that would help someone realize if they are in a codependent relationship?
- How much time am I spending with this friend? That determines a lot right there.
- Am I neglecting other friends?
- Do I think this relationship is healthy? What do others in my life who care about me think about this relationship?
- Are there questions about the past that I need to answer for myself?
- Have I forgiven people in my past that have hurt me, and moved on?