1. One person is always trying to “fix” the other’s problems
It’s common in codependent friendships for the person playing the giver role to always feel a deep sense of responsibility towards the taker.
Givers often want to fix problems, which can come at a price. The cost sometimes can even cause the giver pain as they spend exorbitant amounts of time, energy, and sometimes even money helping the taker.
2. One person needs to be rescued
In any relationship, it’s important to be willing to help someone you care about. It’s equally as important to be able to accept help if it’s coming from a good place. However, in a codependent friendship, there won’t be any reciprocation aspect, so one person is constantly giving to the other, despite knowing that if and when they themselves need help, their partner won’t be capable of returning the favor.
3. One person has anxiety or fears about the relationship
Takers may experience feelings of anxiety when their friend is not around or can’t spend time with them. They may start overthinking and obsessing over a fear that the relationship might end. Because of this, takers may become self-conscious that their friend might not want to spend time with them.
4. One or both people experience a feeling of burnout
Eventually, someone is going to feel the sensation of emotional burnout after being in a codependent relationship. The cyclical, repetitive taking and giving can only last so long.
Particularly for the person in the giver role, the cycle can be exhausting, depleting a little bit more of their energy and happiness every time they engage until they get to the point that they have nothing left to give (to themself or their friend).
5. One or both people heavily rely and depend on the friendship
Being comfortable in a relationship is great, but when one or both of you become so dependent on the other person you can’t function alone any longer, it’s unhealthy. Though the roles are different, codependency can still have a dramatic impact on both the giver’s and the taker’s psyches.
6. Both people tend to be upset at the same time
It might sound a little strange, but it’s very common for people in codependent relationships to experience shared emotions. You may take on feelings of duress, stress, anger, or even happiness based on how your friend is feeling.
Rather than having individual, personal reactions to situations or experiences, people in codependent friendships often find their mood is easily dictated by their friends’ moods.
7. Individual choices aren’t common
Not only do codependent friends tend to take on one another’s emotions, but they also might find it difficult to make their own choices when they’re together. Further, they might stifle their own needs and can even have a sense of guilt if they try to establish independence from their friend.
8. Opinions are streamlined
Just as it can be difficult to make individual decisions and choices in a codependent friendship, expressing opinions can be equally as hard. For people who have a codependent friend, it might feel easier to just go along with what the friend thinks or feels rather than risk any source of tension in the friendship by disagreeing or expressing individual opinions.
9. The relationship is draining on one or both people
A codependent friendship can be exhausting for both people involved. It can suck all the life out of you. These unhealthy relationships often leave little time to focus on anything other than that specific friendship. The relationship can become draining and taxing, both mentally and physically, resulting in a lack of energy and time to put into other aspects of life.
10. One person’s needs come first
This might be one of the most obvious signs of codependency in friendship. If one person is continuously putting the other’s needs before their own, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a codependent friendship.
11. Jealousy is common
Jealousy is a common theme in a lot of codependent friendships. It makes sense that if someone is overly dependent on a friend, it can be difficult for them to accept that person bonding or becoming close with someone else outside the friendship.
12. The relationship has high expectations or obligations
The expectations placed on the giver in a codependent relationship can be daunting. The dysfunction in the friendship may result in one person being expected to sacrifice and give anything and everything to the person who fills the taker role.
13. There’s a high level of emotional need
Codependent friendships often involve incredible levels of emotional dependency between both people. Essentially, though it may not be obvious to those in the relationship, codependency generally involves two people using each other to get what they need emotionally.
14. One person is always giving, while the other is always taking
A hallmark sign of a codependent friendship is they’re strikingly one-sided. As we’ve seen through the roles that are played (we have a giver and a taker), codependency depends on that very thing — one person giving while the other takes. The roles may not ever be reversed, meaning whoever is the giver may rarely, if ever, get their own needs fulfilled in the relationship.
15. Outside friends are cut off
Codependent friendships rely on strict roles that are already being filled. The result can be a very closed-off circle of friends. Because the taker relies on sympathy and care they get, and the giver likely thrives on the power they feel as the caretaker, it’s unlikely that anyone else would be welcomed into the cycle.
16. The relationship feels scripted
The roles in a codependent relationship are stringent and unwavering. As a result, the friendship can start to feel like it’s scripted, playing out the same scenario with the same outcome day after day.
17. One person typically feels used
It’s very common for one person in a codependent friendship to feel used. Whether that’s you or the other party, the feeling can become exhausting.
18. One or both people is inauthentic in the relationship
Authenticity is important in any friendship, but in codependent relationships, one person often feels like they’re hiding or stifling their true self. By ignoring their authentic self, it can be easier to fill their role in the relationship without having to express opinions, feelings, or reactions to situations and events.
19. A distorted sense of reality is present
Because codependency perpetuates a cycle of unhealthy patterns, friendships can end up offering a distorted sense of reality. The giver can internalize a sense of self-importance and worth as they rescue the taker over and over. Likewise, the taker can fulfill their need to be wanted and taken care of.
20. One person in the relationship fills the “decision-making” role
Most takers in a codependent friendship rely heavily on the giver to make virtually all major decisions for them. It can be an incredible sense of stress and may weigh heavily on the giver, especially if things don’t pan out and the taker has someone to blame.