Once upon a time, you made a new friend.  You were so happy because this new friend seemed to be the missing link in your life!  Things were great and you did lots of fun things together.  You went out to places, shopping, lunch, even the occasional weekend away.  But things began to get a little odd every now and again, and you couldn’t quite place what had changed.

You started to notice a few signs of a co-dependent friendship, but at the time, you didn’t think anything of it.  After a while, perhaps even your friend made you think the signs were in your head.  It’s not them, surely?  It must be you they said.  And slowly, the light left the friendship and you began to feel drained.  Occasionally, after speaking with them, you got the worst headache.  And on a few occasions, you got angry after speaking to them where you were in a good mood just an hour prior to being with them or talking to them.

This is not a new tale my friend and we are going to take a look at different types of tactics the friend, relative or partner uses to lure you back in with a cry of “Wolf”.  There is no wolf…except for them.

Signs of a co-dependent friend:

  • Overtime, you have become your friend’s sole source of emotional support…or at least it appears that way.
  • When you see your phone or message light up, you know that they are in yet another “crisis” as that seems to happen every other day.
  • There is an obsessive quality to the friendship that wasn’t there before.
  • The problems are laid out in such a way as to appear that their problems are in fact your own (but they really aren’t).
  • Due to the nature of this relationship (neediness), you will cancel your plans if they need something right then from you.
  • You feel very responsible for them due to (insert bad family story, no one understand them like you do, partner is not nice, or whatever they told you).
  • You feel very guilty for wanting to have a life and/or enjoying plans without them because you feel like a weight has lifted.
  • They really do make you feel their pain very deeply…even if part of their pain is not real.
  • Your family comments on the influence this friend/person has had on you..and it’s not in a good way.

It’s time to decide if they are really just using Gaslighting tactics.  Gaslighting happens when the person pretends that you are imagining things…but the events really did occur.  The term came from a play in the 30’s actually and it involves manipulating someone to the point of making them think they have gone mad.  They question their very world and reality.  This is a type of psychological warfare.  They have used this for so long in their lives that the person has become adapt at making you question what really happened.  What you really said or did.  Recognize this as a type of manipulation that is unhealthy.

Another thing that the relationship with this person could bring about is Projection.  Projection happens when someone is chronically unwilling to see his or her own shortcomings and uses all kinds of tactics to avoid being held accountable for them.  This is recognizable as nothing is their fault and the person avoids any and all accountability.  You most likely see this with a person on narcissistic personality disorders and they are often psychologically abusive.  Sociopaths, people who do not really identify with other people’s feelings, use this type of tactic as well.  Blameshifting the responsibility for their behavior onto others is their great move.  There is clearly something wrong with the world and how it operates…not them, right?  You will not usually find this person experiencing guilt for their actions.

The last tactic that is used is Conversations that Never Go Anywhere.  A narcissist will make it about them and will not ask you how you have been, what you have been up to, or what is going on.  You might think they have asked you because you remember telling them, but the truth is, they have never, not once, actually asked about you.  They will argue their point, steer it back to them, and continue talking all about their side of a story as you go round and round and round.  You will probably give them the same advice you have given them the other 25 times that this topic came up.  And you will continue to give them the same advice and never, not once, will they take it.  Remember this…they are not going to take your advice.  They are only talking to draw you in and hear themselves constantly talk about the same thing…for years.

What are some key questions to ask yourself?

  • Is this healthy?  Am I happy with this?  Do I deserve more?
  • How much time am I devoting to this relationship?
  • What do others in my life who actually care about me and love me think about this?
  • Are there things in the past that repeat in patterns like this?
  • Have I forgiven something about my past or do I think I am not worthy of better relationships?

In the end, it will never be worth the mental pain to continue in these types of relationships, but it is up to you to clarify your boundaries and what you are worth.  Shift from victim to victor by engaging in things that make you feel whole and complete again.  You are in control of your actions, your thoughts, and it’s your move.  It really can be that simple.

What are some activities that can help you get through this time?

  • Stress blocks the release of oxytocin and that is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that has been referred to the love hormone.  Do something you love and spend time with loved ones so you can sense the difference in real love, like a trusted family member, versus manipulative, controlling love.
  • Listening to music is a great way to get a bit of dopamine, which is the reward system.  Turn to music for a great feeling instead of the feelings left to you by negative people.  Alcohol is not going to fix this, so be mindful of numbing the pain and seek professional help if needed.
  • To increase estrogen and relieve stress, do some yoga like I teach in my Club for centering and grounding or meditate.  Estrogen protects you from irritability and anxiety keeping your mood steady.
  • Lastly, work to keep progesterone at an optimum level by eating well and avoiding sugar which lights up the parts of the brain like addiction…if you do not eat well or eat high sugar you might have problems sleeping as this can cause the levels to not be balanced.  Eating well, taking care of yourself and exercising are key components to moving past this.  You must put in the work on yourself first.  No one else is going to be able to do that for you.  Self-care is key.

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