Look for signs that good feelings about the self depend on being liked by another. A person should be able to maintain positive self esteem without depending upon how others feel about them. Remember, it's called self esteem because it should come solely from inside. Co-dependent people will depend on others' approval for their own good feelings about them self.
Look for signs of putting oneself last to the point of emotional or physical cost. Co-dependent people will put all of their energies into pleasing another. While it is considered a value to care for others, there needs to be a balance so that we take care of ourselves as well. When this balance is skewed, a person will lie for another, cover up for another and never let anyone say anything bad about the other person, even if it means suffering the other person's consequences. It is not uncommon for these people to ignore the things that are important to them and spend a great deal of time doing things that are important to the other person.
Look for signs of trying very hard to get the other person to do things his way. If he is not able to get others to do things his way, he feels rejected, and this in turn lowers his self esteem. For this reason, the fear of the another's anger controls what is said or done.
Look for signs of giving too much in order to get another to love oneself. It is not uncommon for this person to feel more alive in a relationship that is full of excitement, drama and uncertainty. People in co-dependent relationships are often perfectionistic and overly critical of themselves. They blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. The struggle to get the other to love them dominates their life and are constantly searching for that magic key that will make that happen.
Look for signs of pretending things are fine when they are not. People in these types of relationships may find themselves doing things for others that they are capable of doing themselves. They usually wish they had more self respect. They often don't trust their own perceptions, are very afraid of being wrong, are convinced that they can't survive without the other person and don't feel whole unless in a relationship.
- Use caution in objectively looking for the above signs. If there is one instance of such behavior, co-dependency is not an absolute. The above signs must be seen often and in a pattern to qualify as co-dependent. If there are further concerns, a mental health professional can be very helpful in dealing with concerns of co-dependency.