How to Help a Teen in a Codependent Relationship

codependent relationship

When you think of codependent relationships, you most likely think of the relationship between a parent and child. However, codependency can happen in other ways, too, including in teen romantic relationships. While these types of relationships are not necessarily harmful, it is important to recognize when they become unhealthy so that you can intervene before the problem progresses further.

Young people may not know the difference between healthy and toxic relationship behaviors, so they can be more vulnerable to potentially harmful situations. At Imagine Seattle, we realize the teen years are already hard enough without the addition of navigating romantic relationships for the first time. Call us today at 888.346.0473 to discuss our teen relationship therapy program and how it can help your child explore relationships in a healthy way.

What Are the Signs of a Codependent Relationship?

As an adult, you may still experience relationship problems you are unsure how to resolve. Unfortunately, healthy relationship skills are not always taught at home or school, and you may repeat the same patterns you witnessed as a child. You can be more effective at helping your teen deal with harmful codependency if you first understand what codependency is and how to recognize the signs of a codependent relationship. Here are a few codependent behavior examples:

  • Being overly sensitive to their partner’s feelings to ensure the person does not become upset with them
  • Being overly involved with their partner’s life
  • Feeling responsible for their partner’s well-being
  • Ignoring their own needs to attend to their partner’s needs
  • Finding it impossible to say no to their partner

The tricky part about spotting a codependent relationship is that it can initially be mistaken for a loving, caring relationship. Wanting to make a partner happy by being thoughtful and doing nice things for them is natural. The main difference is that in a codependent relationship, one person’s needs are treated as so important that they become the focus of the relationship.

How to Help If Your Teen Is in a Codependent Relationship

Letting your teen learn from their mistakes is essential to helping them grow into well-adjusted adults, but there comes a time when you need to step in for their safety and well-being. Codependent relationships can lead to insecurity and powerlessness for the codependent person because their partner’s needs become more important than their own.

If you believe that your teen is in a codependent relationship, here are a few ways you can help them:

  • Explain that codependency is not love. Instead, it involves one partner doing more for another than is appropriate in a healthy relationship.
  • Teach them about healthy boundaries. These help us define who we are and what we need from others and give us a sense of control over our lives.
  • Help your teen understand what a healthy relationship looks like. Give them examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Encourage your child to build their confidence and sense of identity by finding activities they enjoy that do not include their partner.
  • Let them know that you will support them if a breakup is necessary. Your child may not know how to break up with a partner, so you can offer guidance if they are interested.

When you see signs of codependency in your teen’s relationship, you must let them know you are there for them and care about their well-being. If your child thinks you are trying to tell them what not to do or who not to date, they will likely get defensive.

End Codependency with Teen Relationship Therapy at Imagine Seattle

Talking with your teen about codependent relationships can be sensitive since they may not want to hear what you say. Imagine Seattle has the solution with our teen relationship therapy program. Call us at 888.346.0473 to learn more.