5 Subtle Signs You're In A Codependent Friendship

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two women in a codependent friendship
Self

You may have heard the term "codependent" applied to people in a romantic relationship, but believe it or not, you can have a codependent friendship as well.

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you're doing a lot more for your friend then they routinely do for you? This isn't your typical, "I did them a favor, and they didn't pay me back" scenario, but rather a long history of you giving your all to a friend in need, feeling like a hero, and then falling to the wayside.

It's easy to miss the signs of a codependent friendship, but once you recognize the imbalance, you must get it back on track if you want to save yourself some misery.

RELATED: How To Stop Being Codependent In Relationships

When you start to notice the signs of a codependent friendship, it can be eye-opening.

You've been in an unhealthy downward spiral with this person for months or even years before you start to wonder if it's OK that you're constantly wearing yourself out to make them happy.

And typically, your once happy and fun friendship turned into a dysfunctional relationship where you lost yourself. Now, you're their emotional support; you're there for them when they need it. You've dropped everything in your life at least once to deal with their problems.

But when you have a need for help, reaching out gets you nothing but guilt and shame.

Perhaps you didn't realize you've been ignoring your own needs and feelings over those of your friend.

Here's how to recognize when you're in a codependent friendship.

1. You put your friend’s needs before your own.

This is the most important sign to realize because you’ll notice that this keeps happening.

You're always worried and concerned about what they need and want, and you never get that in return from your friend for your own needs and wants. It’s a very one-sided relationship.

Your needs matter. if your friend doesn't seem to care or can't be bothered to help in your time of need, it's not a healthy friendship.

2. You are your friend’s primary source of emotional support.

You're the one who's there for emotional support, and you like to be there for your friend.

However, this becomes a problem when it’s always pushed onto you to support and boost your friend's mood.

It’s hard to realize this because you think it’s what you want, but you have no idea what you're doing to yourself because it’s completely an unconscious behavior.

Being someone's sole source of emotional support and regulation is as unhealthy for them as it is for you. Putting some distance between you for a little while might help.

Set some boundaries, like you won't answer texts or calls after a certain hour in the evening. Or that you won't just go to rescue them every time they need it. Maybe be impartial when they're talking about an argument they had with someone if you really feel the other person's point was valid.

Don't just assuage their ego to make your friend feel better.

RELATED: 12 Types Of Negative People That Lead To One-Sided, Toxic Friendships

3. You feel jealous if your friend spends time with other friends.

Your need to support and be there for your friend, 24/7, makes you become jealous when they decide to hang out with you because all your efforts aren’t being appreciated.

However, it’s also because this friendship has made you jealous of their other friends. You may feel worried that they'll start to rely on someone else for help and support instead of you.

These are likely fears driven by abandonment issues in your life, and you should spend time speaking with a therapist to feel better.

4. You give up other friendships and time with family to be with your friend.

You’re so invested in this friendship you don’t even realize it's split you apart from your other friends and even your family. This friend has emotionally and mentally changed you for the worse and this is a very alarming sign.

Have you canceled plans with other people when your friend calls last minute to hang out after their plans fell through? Do you find yourself constantly wondering what they're up to, and wishing you could be around them more? Or do you get the fear that they're having fun without you, and distance yourself from family and friends to be involved in their lives?

These signs imply that you've got an unhealthy friendship going on.

5. You let them make decisions for you.

Your friend can convince you to do practically anything, even things you'd normally never do. You're so afraid of them leaving you behind that you'll agree to whatever they propose.

Sometimes, this may get you into trouble.

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Perhaps they're suggesting you spend money on an apartment you can't afford. Or get a job you don't want. Or date someone you don't really like because they think it would be "cute."

Any time you are allowing someone else to make decisions on your part, big or small, you're giving over control to them and perpetuating a codependent friendship. Because you're going along with it willingly, you may not even realize you're letting yourself be bullied into someone else's choices for your life.

If you’re making decisions on the sole merit that your choice will please your friend and you're not listening to your own needs and wants, that’s unhealthy.

A codependent friendship can become a healthy one.

Try to identify what you’re gaining and giving up in your friendship. You need to complete this step first so you know if it’s even worth pursuing the friendship to make it healthy again.

Be honest and have a meaningful conversation about your concerns. Then, both of you can come to an understanding and agree on how to solve the problems.

Set healthy boundaries for yourself, too. Don't let them walk all over you again, and learn to be yourself around them.

Your needs and wants are healthy and valid. It's OK to express them and expect someone to support you in return. But none of this can get resolved if you don't tell your friend what you need.

Try and communicate openly and honestly. There should be a comparable give and take in friendship; in the very least you should be able to trust that your friend is going to help support you in hard times. But if you're the only one giving, that’s a problem.

The imbalance of your friendship is what will ruin it, and most likely if you’re the one who's the giver, you're feeling burned out and worn down.

If you find yourself stuck in a codependent friendship, address your concerns and take steps to re-balance the relationship. Learn how to put emphasis on your needs in the friendship — and more importantly to say "no" if you really can't or shouldn't do something.

It's normal to expect friends to reciprocate love, affection, and emotional support. If your friends aren't doing that, it may be time to take a break for a while until you recognize what you need in a friendship.

RELATED: Why Healthy Relationships Are Based On Interdependence Vs. Codependency

Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers love and relationships, pop culture, and zodiac.