A tendency for codependency

Single and stressed? Coupled but it's complicated?  Have a question about your love life or lack thereof?

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My marriage crumbled very quickly four years ago and left me completely shattered emotionally. In that marriage and previous relationships, I'd had a tendency for codependency. After the divorce, I swore I'd never let my life get so intertwined with someone who might abandon me. Therapy, life changes, and healthy outlets have given me a new love of life since then.

I've had a number of short-term flings since my divorce that never really went anywhere, which didn't bother me. Finally, last year, I decided I wanted to try a serious relationship again. The timing was right and an acquaintance made their interest known to me. We fell right into it and I let the "L" word slip out early on.

Looking back, I recognize my old habits of codependency starting to manifest. Things were fine for awhile, but my interest has started to wane. We don't have a lot in common and I just don't feel a great attraction to this person anymore. The problem is, they are going through some big life-changing events – including underemployment, depression, and family issues. They've outright told me on many occasions that I'm the best thing in their life. I can't help but see my past self (codependent, anxious, and depressed) in this person, and it's making my fading feelings worse. I don’t know what to do. I like this person very much. But I can't help but feel like I'm their emotional crutch.

I want to end this relationship but I know how devastating it feels to have someone you rely on so much call it quits. I pulled through my own storm because I had no choice; my kids were relying on me to keep myself together and fight to grow beyond my pain. This person doesn't have that driving force. Please help.

- Codependent No More

Break up with this person – for both of you.

Of course it feels terrible to lose a wonderful person in your life when you're dealing with so many other difficult things. But it can feel worse to depend on someone who doesn't want to be there. It's awful to discover that the one you love has been faking their commitment to get you through a bad phase of life. Saying goodbye might not feel nice, but at least it's honest.

You can be transparent about why this relationship needs to end. Explain you want them to have the right support system. You're not it.

Sticking around and keeping these feelings to yourself will not fix anything. It'll involve you in next steps – and you can't commit to being part of them. You got through bad times by learning to believe in yourself. That's how we all have to do it. Also, don't assume your significant other will feel "shattered" like you did after the divorce. We're all different people with our own histories and instincts.

Remember that you only started this relationship last year. You should not be the center of this person's universe and their only path to happiness. You are not the only person who can help them make things better. You can leave at any time.

– Meredith

Readers? How do you leave when you're worried about someone?