Dear Annie: I’ve been with my significant other for five years. We’re each other’s “person.” I’m more comfortable with him than I’ve ever been with anyone else, but there’s a catch. We’ve noticed a trend: that I’m better at taking care of myself when he’s not around. It’s not a conscious thing. I’m not intentionally sulking. But it seems that my depression and anxiety come out of the woodwork – I’ve been stable for quite a while – when I’m alone with him. When we’re apart – for example, one of us goes out of town – I flourish. I’m confused by this pattern. I don’t understand why someone I am so comfortable with seems to hinder my growth and well-being. He is a wonderful, loving partner. I have no complaints about how he treats me. We have awesome communication and talk about absolutely everything. And yet, a part of me feels trapped. I don’t want us to break up, but maybe we’re no longer a good fit. – Dating but Drifting
Dear Dating but Drifting: Perhaps what you’re feeling is the result of codependence, counterintuitive as it might sound. It’s possible you only feel like you can give yourself permission to focus on your own well-being when he’s not there. Check out Mental Health America’s “Characteristics of Co-Dependent People” at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/co-dependency, and see if you recognize yourself in the list of traits.
Alternatively, maybe your relationship is simply in need of a refresh. Take a trip with your boyfriend; try a new hobby together. Sometimes, all it takes is shaking up the routine a bit to remember why you fell in love with someone.
Finally, it very well could be that this relationship has run its course, and your anxiety is telling you it’s time to move on. If that is the case, it is better to rip that Band-Aid off sooner than later.
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