Nearly everyone remembers their first love. The overwhelming feelings of infatuation and the chemistry between you is not something that is easily forgotten. And while it is pretty normal to spend a lot of time with a new love interest, there is a line between normal teenage desire and unhealthy obsession. So how do you know if you’ve crossed that line or if you have a healthy relationship?
We often refer to the unhealthy and obsessive type of relationship as codependent. Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore. Your mood, happiness, and identity are defined by the other person.
While a healthy relationship is interdependent, depending on one another for support and encouragement, an unhealthy or codependent relationship is where you literally rely on the other person to make you feel loved and complete. It’s as if you do not believe you are lovable or worthy, and need external validation in order to feel happy.
If left on your own, you are unable to function or feel good because you are relying on someone else to fill that void in yourself. And until you fill that void with a healthy love for yourself, you will just choose one unhealthy relationship after another after another.
There are some signs you can pay attention to when you’re forming a new relationship, in order to make sure things are moving along in a way that is healthy for everyone.
- Are you talking to or spending so much time with this person that you are failing to honor all of your other obligations? For example, are you still getting all of your chores and schoolwork done and also getting enough sleep? Neglecting your responsibilities is a sure red flag of an unhealthy situation.
- Have your friends or family complained that you never spend any time with them anymore? Neglecting your friendships and isolating yourself from them and your family is often a sign that you’re overly obsessed with your relationship. This is never a very good idea, of course, because these are the very people who love you most and will be there for you if your relationship ends.
- Do you think about this person constantly? Like every minute of the day? Are you having trouble concentrating and even sleeping because you can’t stop the thoughts of being together? Are you texting during class or skipping class to be together? Is there any time when this person is not on your mind and you feel calm and relaxed? Fleeting thoughts that make you smile are one thing, but obsessive thoughts that get in the way of you thinking about anything else can be harmful.
- Are you feeding off of the neediness or possessiveness of another person? Are you possibly confusing their attention with love? If your partner needs to be with you or talking to you every minute of every day, how can you maintain a sense of self? It is always crucial to maintain a strong sense of self, even when in relationships with others. Anyone who tries to strip that away from you is actually controlling and manipulative. This is dangerous for you.
- Do you fear that the relationship might end and do everything in your power to prevent that from happening? Will you completely fall apart if the relationship doesn’t work out? If the fear of abandonment is strong and overpowering, you are no longer able to see things clearly for what they really are. You emotional well-being is at stake.
There is no doubt that everyone wants and deserves to be loved. But first, you must learn to love and respect yourself. How can any else love you or respect you if you don’t even love and respect yourself?
If you don’t find the self-love, you will end up in relationships where you think it is love, but really it will be about dependence and controlling. These relationships rarely end well.
A healthy relationship is one of mutual respect and adoration. One where your self is nurtured, respected and even encouraged. It is one where your friendships, family and outside interests are included. You are lovable just the way you are.
You deserve a healthy and happy relationship. You don’t need to change a single thing about yourself in order to be loved. Don’t ever let anyone control you, try to change you, isolate you, or take up all of your time and energy.
Do not confuse obsessiveness with love. And if you’re not sure if your relationship is healthy one, reach out to your friends, family or another trusted adult and get some input. You are strong and beautiful and worthy and lovable. Don’t ever forget that.