In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she’s a freelance fighter of your emotional woes with Ask Gynomite. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. Today, Gynomite takes on codependency.
I think I have the co-depedence bug. Looking back on therapy sessions and after listening to lots of Mr. Pete Holmes’s podcasts, I think I’m ready to admit it.
I tend to get attached too quickly and am all too ready to turn that pretty girl into a checkmark after a handful of dates. I’ve
scared away some girls with my eagerness and openness. I’ve never actually been in a relationship that lasted longer than four weeks and I’m a little scared that I’m shooting myself in the foot. I get really depressed when first dates I think are going swimmingly don’t turn into second dates.
I’ve moved schools a lot (been to four different schools in the last five years) and so I don’t have a strong social circle of friends to
fall back into. So, that makes me anxious that I get too excited to turn a date into my new emotional anchor, support person. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone and I don’t know how to turn that pressure down.
I guess what I want to ask you is what emotional assignments can I do to ensure that I’m not just feeding my co-dependence? Or what thoughts should I look out for? Is there a type of girl that would be healthy for someone with co-dependent tendencies? Is there a type that’s bad?
My goodness. It sounds like you know yourself and your demons pretty well at this point, which is impressive. Based on what you’ve said, I’ll have to agree with you- it seems like your relationships have been with the idea of being in a relationship, and not so much with the person across from you. It’s actually maybe good that your relationships haven’t lasted longer than 4 weeks, because no woman can live up to the standard/pedestal you’re setting up, and when they get exhausted and inevitably fail, both of you will feel like you’ve messed up.
This is what I almost always end up saying, but sir, get thee to a therapist. A good, tough one you can be honest with, who won’t let you bullshit about how perfect this new girl you met is. What you’re asking about is way too all-encompassing to be addressed here and here alone.
There are a couple of things that will help though. The first is finding friends- this is essential. You cannot rely on one person to be your anchor, but it’s not crazy or codependent to expect people to be your anchor. It’s not even crazy to expect a girlfriend to be your anchor, you just can’t throw the anchor at them immediately. So before you think about dating, I think it’s a good idea to start developing acquaintances into friendships. I try to think about it like this- there are a million things that we, as people, want from a romantic partner: sex, validation, comfort, companionship, intimacy, feeling connected to others. You have a right to all of those things, but you don’t have to get them all from one person. Companionships, intimacy, feeling connected… hell, even sex can come from close relationships that aren’t romantic. Plus, friendships are a great way to practice being in a relationship that you don’t drown yourself in.
Other than that, as someone who has had issues in the past with putting too much stock into the random dude I’m dating, I try and look at my life as if I were watching it on TV. Not in a “how sexy and plot twisty is this episode?” way, but rather, in a “would this make sense to someone watching it from the outside?” way. If I were watching a TV show where a girl went on one okay date with a dude and then spent the next day miserably checking her phone, waiting for a text from this dude, I’d go “Wait, did I miss a scene where they had some amazing connection I’m not aware of?”. And we want to change to come from the inside out, but sometimes change comes from looking at your behaviors and changing them, and saying FUCK YOU to why you did the behaviors in the first place. Fake it till you make it.
The rule I came up with for myself for this was “Does my reaction match the interaction?”, and it rhymes, so that’s cute.
For me, and I rarely get personal with these, but for me, it took a combination of strengthening my friendships, therapy, and constantly evaluating (not judging) my own behavior until I slowly settled in to feeling comfortable just dating. I suggest a similar combination.
Good luck to you.