Here's a tough question for you:
Are you living with your partner or through them?
Does this make you cringe a little bit?
Here's the mixed news: At times, we've all done it. Is it healthy? No, but we're human and tend to have people-pleasing issues.
The true danger of living through your partner is that you lose yourself bit by bit along the way. If you don't assert your preferences or set some boundaries, you could be completely overrun. Even worse, your partner may eventually stop asking for your input or opinions if you consistently just go with whatever they want. This is a classic example of giving away your power to others.
It generally starts out harmless enough. For myself, I tend to notice it the most when it comes to deciding what to eat for dinner. "What do you want honey?" my boyfriend asks, and I'll say "I don't know, whatever you want is good". Now, sometimes it's because I really don't have a craving. I lost my sense of smell and taste when I was 21 after working in a candle store (weird, I know), and I just don't feel the same joy around flavors that other people do. So, if someone is really craving something (and has the capacity to taste it), then I'll generally defer to them. At other times, I do have something in mind for dinner, but I still go through this little routine. Those are the people-pleasing times because I have a clear desire, but I'm hesitant to voice it because I don't want to rob anyone else of their joy. Sound familiar?
Sacrificing your needs for a partner is an example of a co-dependent relationship. In these types of relationships, addictions are often present. In many cases, the addiction is for the affection and approval of your partner. Often the desire for approval stems from childhood experiences where you felt the need to please parents or didn't receive the emotional support you craved or needed at the time. This creates a fear that's carried into adulthood. The deepest fear is that you will be unloved or abandoned.
In order to avoid these fears, you may subconsciously decide that the lesser pain is to sacrfice your happiness for security. Women in co-dependent relationships often experience heightened anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem and unhappiness.
It is possible to recover from a pattern of co-dependency. The first step is to recognize the pattern exists. Next, work on building a personal identity separate from your partner. This includes exploring hobbies, interests, and spending time with your friends to satisfy your needs. I also recommend individual and/or couples counseling. There are ways you and your partner can support each other if one or both of you are co-dependent. Other ways to recover from a co-dependency relationship pattern includes working through childhood issues where you felt alone, abandoned, or unloved. These feelings lowered your self-esteem and made you doubt that you were lovable or worthy of being loved. When your self-esteem increases, you feel more confident to explore an independent life.
If you're currently struggling with anxiety, unhappiness, low self-esteem, or a co-dependency pattern, then Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) can help you release childhood fears and traumas to gain more confidence in your life.
Dr. April Darley is an expert at resolving stuck patterns of behavior through Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.). By identifying self-sabotaging behaviors, she can help you regain confidence, improve relationships, remove blocks to health, wealth and success in any area of your life.