Hooked Up or Hooked On?


Clarion photo Evanne O'Sullivan

Cutting the ties of codependence

By Siana Ramos, Reporter

High school is a breeding ground for all kinds of relationships. We come into contact with so many people everyday, and we never know exactly where a new relationship is going to take us. Although relationships of any kind can be positive, they can also be extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy–this happens often times without the people in the relationships even realizing it. Codependency is one example of a problem that can develop within a relationship, which can cause serious damage to a person’s well-being. The hardest part about codependent relationships is that a lot of people don’t know how to tell if they are in one. So think about it, are you hooked up or are you hooked on?

Do you find yourself depending on someone else’s approval to determine your self-worth? If so, this can be a sign of codependency in a relationship. In codependent relationships, one or both of the people in the relationship base the way they view themselves completely on the approval of the other. This is dangerous. Placing one’s own self-worth and personal identity into the hands of other people can be extremely damaging, because often times people start to live their life with the purpose of pleasing someone else rather than fulfilling themselves. When you live your life trying to please someone else, it’s so easy to lose sight of your own power, passions, interests, goals, and independence. Losing sight of those things is not worth pleasing anyone. You are the most important person in your life. You are the only person you need to please.

Another sign of codependency can be the thought that you can’t find fulfillment in your life anywhere besides with your person. This is dangerous because you can’t completely rely on someone else to make you feel anything. It’s totally OK to love someone, to be happy with someone, or to need someone sometimes. But you can’t completely base your fulfillment in life on someone else. What happens when that person can’t be there? What happens if you have to go somewhere on your own and be without that person for a while? What happens? If you base all of your happiness and fulfillment on someone else, then they’ll take your happiness with them wherever they go. It doesn’t even feel like it’s yours anymore. Instead of feeling it within yourself and being able to give it to yourself, you give them the power to completely dictate how you feel.

When you are stuck in a codependent relationship, you might start to neglect any other relationships in your life. A lot of times people start to only spend time with their person, not putting any effort into anyone else. This is dangerous because people need to be able to have their own lives with their own separate relationships and experiences. You need to be able to come together, but then come apart has whole, independent people.

Once you know you are in a codependent relationship, what’s the next step? Well, it depends on the people and the specific situation but common solutions are either ending the relationship or setting boundaries.

In my personal experience, ending the relationship was the best solution for me. But for others it can just be making some changes and setting boundaries which help you create more of a balance in the relationship. Deciding to spend more time apart focusing on your own things is one example of a change you could make.

It’s extremely important to be aware and educated about codependent relationships, especially in high school because we are in such a confusing, vulnerable, important place in our lives and relationships are a huge part of this experience. We want to feel loved, good enough, important, and worthy, and we often times try to find that reassurance or acceptance of ourselves in other people. Which makes it easy for us to cling to the approval from someone else rather than trying to build our own love for ourselves. This is usually what keeps us stuck in unhealthy relationships: we feel like we need to be loved by our person in order to be worthy, we feel like we won’t be able to function without them, we are scared to face the world and ourselves without them. But our independence and self-love is always worth the pain of letting go of an unhealthy relationship. Loving yourself needs to come before loving anyone else. A favorite author of mine, Hannah Mae Mata, describes this perfectly. Referring to an unhealthy relationship, she said,  “How I stopped growing, to stay in love.”  I relate this very much to codependency because that is truly what can happen. You can begin to sacrifice your own personal growth, in order to stay in your relationship. But nothing is worth that risk.

You are too precious and powerful to be depending on someone else’s approval. You are yours. You are whole without that person. I know it can be scary to detach yourself, to move on, or to make little changes; but you are worth it. Your independence and your personal growth are the most important things and you will be blown away by the incredible magic it brings to be back in touch with those things again.