Many recovering Codependents find themselves completely uninterested in starting a new relationship. They struggle with the fear of being powerless and caught, once again, in a Narcissist’s trap. Many build up walls and refuse to let people in. They’ve become emotionally unavailable and distrusting of anyone looking to get close to them. Their armor is thick and impenetrable.
Battling Codependency is a process. Being militant and anti-relationship is part of that process. I think of Codependency as something that can rear its ugly head again under the right conditions, even after you think you’ve licked it, so it should always be something that needs to be maintained. A Codependent will always have to be aware and vigilant, but that doesn’t mean being single and guarded forever.
The road to recovery is about taking those little steps, every day, that bring you closer and closer to feeling like a person of value, of having high standards, of being firm with your boundaries, of having no tolerance for poor treatment, of taking action, when what we want is not on offer. of putting ourselves first and practicing self-care. The more we repeat these behaviors the stronger our neuropathways become.
At some point, if a relationship is something that you want to engage in, again, you will have to learn how to trust yourself and to always do right by you, in every circumstance.
I’ve put together a list of behaviors to always be wary of, not just for Codependents, but for everyone interested in dating. Awareness is key to your success.
Behaviors to Be Aware of When Getting Back Out There
Pedestalling: A term used when you start dating someone, who initially lathers you with attention and admiration, then after a period of time, their attitude towards you completely changes. This is different from a typical new love interest petering off to a normal state. This is going from high intensity obsession to showing little interest. It’s to the point where you believe you have done something wrong to cause this sudden turn about in their behavior. This is problematic for a Codependent because they will internalize the rejection, believing that it is their fault. They will stay and try to win back the love they believe they have lost. They will jump through hoops, over-do and over-give, all in the name of being loved. They may stay for weeks, months or years, trying to recreate those initial feelings. For an emotional manipulator their goal is to hook you in and hook you in fast. They want your admiration – it’s what they’re after. Once they think they’ve got you, they start the discard phase and the mask slips revealing their true selves. If you recognize this behavior in your new partner, first talk about it and see if something is actually wrong. If they continue to behave as if their interest has waned, get out. You have no need to prove yourself to anyone, especially someone who’s showing you they don’t share your feelings.
Goal Differential: If you are on a date with someone and they tell you they are not interested in a relationship and are just looking to hook up, or hang out and you think that because you have so much in common, there is chemistry and a relationship is what you want, that you’ll be able to change their minds, down the road. If you want a relationship and the other person tells you, that’s not what they’re looking for, then that’s it – walk away – what you want isn’t being served here.
Ex-Bashing: Emotional Manipulators will tell you horrible tales about the relationship they just left. It’s a multi-purpose tool. First it makes you feel sorry for them. They’ve been terribly victimized. The right target (a codependent, will want to fix and nurture this poor baby, who just wasn’t treated right and wasn’t understood by this horrible ex). Next, the sharing of such intimate details creates a trust-bond and encourages you to share things about your life (things that will be used against you later) and finally, it really shows how little insight they truly possess. They take responsibility for nothing, everything is always someone else’s fault and they are always the victim. If they say it enough times (and they have as part of their smear campaign against the ex) they will actually start to believe it. Never open up too fast to people you barely know. If someone starts to ex-bash, this is a huge red flag that you shouldn’t ignore. If you do, chances are that the ex they’ll be bashing next will be you.
Mixed Signals, Ghosting and Submarining: If someone is blowing hot and cold about you, if they disappear for days, weeks or months and then show up again like nothing happened and this is causing you pain, anxiety and upset then this is not for you. You deserve more than someone that treats you like an option. Mixed signals are exactly that – they are clearly telling you sometimes I’m interested and sometimes I’m not – If they make plans with you and then don’t show, if they stop returning your texts and calls and you have no idea where they are or what they’re doing and then they show up and expect everything to be ok – you need to show them the door. Chances are they are involved with other people (despite what they may say). Do not stick around and try to get them to choose you. If someone treats you disrespectfully, that’s all the information you need. You deserve better – end it before you get sucked into a Peak and Valley relationship.
U-Haulling: This is a term used for someone that moves way too fast in relationships. Dating should be the get-to-know-you phase – not the, we-have-stuff-in-common-so-I’m-just-gonna-move-in phase. If you meet someone and they are pushing really hard to be a couple right out of the gate – you need to pump the breaks. This is a clear indication that this person has parasitic qualities – meaning they can’t take care of themselves, they’re users and they’ve worn out their last partner and they’re on the look-out for someone else to feed off of. See my blog entitled, Understanding the Parasitic Narcissist, for more information. Before you ever, even consider, moving in with someone, a whole heap of time needs to have passed and in this time, you’ve witnessed that they can take care of themselves, they’ve got their shit together, they’re responsible financially, they’re dependable, you’ve spent a lot of weekends together and have done a lot of test runs, you both are on the same page, you’re compatible and it enhances both your lives. Do not move somebody in because you need help paying the rent. Take care of your own sandbox and make sure your potential partner can take care of theirs.
Stage 3 Clingers: It’s normal to want to spend time talking and texting with someone you like. When you’re in the grips of budding love, your hormones are racing, making you feel good, but spending all your time, glued at the hip, at the expense of everything else in your life, is not only a bad idea, it’s also very unhealthy. Isolation from friends and family is a typical feature of toxic relationships. Spending all your time together is not proof of how much you love someone; it’s proof of control issues and insecurity. In a healthy relationship you should always maintain separate friends, separate hobbies and enjoy your time apart. Your relationship should be an important part of your life, but it shouldn’t be your top or only priority. Codependents tend to lose themselves in relationships and their lives become all about the other person. Your children (for those that have children) and your well-being should always be at the very top of your list.
Boundary Pushers: Toxic people tend to enjoy pushing other people’s boundaries. To them the more you do and the further you’ll go are seen as proof of love. It doesn’t matter to them that you don’t want to do something, or that you’ll feel uncomfortable, all that matters is that they get what they want. Your job, as a person of value, is to protect yourself. Make sure that all of your needs are getting met, make sure you are not being pressured to do something you don’t want to do, for example – if they don’t want to use condoms, then they can sleep with someone else. Unless you really know someone – this should be a must in the early goings of all new relationships, because there really is no good time to bring up, “Hey I just happen to have a wicked case of genital herpes.” It’s more important that you protect yourself, than it is trying to get someone to like you – especially if it costs you your health. If someone wants you to send them X-rated pictures – send them a picture of your naked middle finger instead. At no time is this a good move for you. There’s always a risk – don’t take it – even if you’re trying to come across as flirty or sexy – that’s not the way. People of value do not put themselves at risk.
Sex on the First or Second Date: Unhealthy people like to move very fast to secure a relationship. When attention and admiration are what you’re after, what better way to move things along, than to share a deeply intimate act. Knowing that someone is a good fit for you takes time. Sex complicates matters while you are still trying to figure things out. If sex is all you want, knock yourself out, but just make sure that that’s clear up front and that you are a person capable of having only a physical relationship.
Watch out for extremes, for instance – wanting to spend time together is a good indication that you’re both on the same page. Spending too much time together is not healthy, just like spending too little time together is unhealthy. There is a line.
The bottom line is if it doesn’t feel good, if something feels off, you don’t owe someone your time and energy – end it. Learn to trust your instincts, let them guide you. You don’t need to stick around and wait for proof. Get in the habit of putting yourself first and expecting that your needs be met. When you trust yourself to always act in your best interest you can handle any situation.
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