Strong love is not codependency

In various places on the internet, people like to give relationship advice. One type of advice people like to give is about what kind of love they think is healthy.

Sometimes, a person seeking help with their relationship might describe their feelings about their significant other as follows:
  • "I couldn't live without my SO."
  • "I can't imagine life without my SO."
When a person writes that, someone will inevitably respond:

"It's wrong to say you can't live without someone. Saying that is giving them power over your life no one should have. This is unhealthy codependency."

No. It isn't.

First of all, what the person is saying isn't: "I am 100% for sure going to kill myself if this relationship fails." What they're saying is: "This relationship is very valuable to me, and losing it would be very painful. Ending this relationship is not an option I will consider at this point." Phrasing this as "I can't live without my SO" is merely saying it dramatically, and succinctly.

Second, merely having strong feelings about someone isn't codependency.

Codependency is an unhealthy type of relationship where one person has a pathological condition which they have no intention of overcoming - usually narcissism or drug use - and the other person lets themselves be psychologically or physically abused, because to them, this is preferable to ending the relationship. For something to be called a codependency, there has to be a relationship, and there has to be an unhealthy, abusive dynamic.

Strong love may enable codependency to happen, to the extent it may weaken one's will. But merely feeling strong love isn't codependency. A person may feel very strong love, without letting themselves be abused by their loved one. A relationship where one or both partners feel they "can't live" without the other might not involve any pathology, or any abusive dynamic at all. If there is abusive tendency, a person can stand up for themselves, and resist a codependency, and thereby cause the relationship to end, even if this causes them to suffer greatly, and even if they could not imagine life without their partner.

For some people, life without their significant other actually isn't worth living. A couple might live together happily for 50 years; then one dies, and within a year, the other dies too, because they don't have the will to continue. This isn't codependency. It's wrong and presumptuous to imply that what this couple feels for each other is somehow unhealthy, or incorrect.


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