Minneapolis punks jimmy and bryan answer Razorcake readers’ concerns in Dear ACABby, an advice column for the rest of us. Today, they advise on dealing with codependent tendencies when your partner’s outta town. If you’ve got a problem you’d like Dear ACABby to have a go at, you can email them at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you here at razorcake.org.
Having some trouble with obsession within my relationship. Partner’s out of town on a trip with his friends. Really struggling to function! Feeling really awful. Depressed. Have a history of codependency bc of alcoholic parents / generational alcoholism. Feeling all of this hitting hard bc of my own codependent tendencies. I’ve been making art and trying to stay positive but I’m finding myself really drained. To the point where it’s hard to do stuff. Any other advice on detaching and honestly… not becoming obsessed like this? I’m retouching up on my book about stopping codependent habits, but could still maybe use some advice, if any is possible lol! No stress if not. Thanks for all that y’all do. I love this column. (-:
Much love and kindness
For starts, it seems like some of the advice we gave in our last column on coping with jealousy in a polyamorous relationship might be helpful here. While jealousy and these type of obsessive/“can’t live without them” feelings are distinct, they have a similar valence, almost two faces of the same coin. In particular, we’d encourage you to process these feelings with someone outside of your relationship, such as a friend, therapist, or journal. Grounding techniques can also be a godsend for when you’re overwhelmed by any kind of feelings, especially when those feelings have to do with someone who isn’t present to reassure you. That isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be, and having regular check-ins, perhaps over the phone, while your partner is gone, is a tried and true way to get a little of what you’re missing. Be careful, though, of falling into constant contact mode—something like texting someone all the time or constantly refreshing Instagram stories can feel reassuring in the moment but can also reinforce the codependent tendencies that tell you you absolutely have to be connected to this person at all times. It may be worth having the conversation of how often you both expect to check in (as a matter of both your partner’s and your own needs), and maintaining that boundary.
In light of that, take this time as a way to reassert your relationship with yourself. Coupledom is great (or we hope it is, for you!), but it’s healthy to have time apart, and I know that for me, it can reveal ways in which I haven’t been prioritizing myself, because of the relationship I’m in or no. Take yourself on a date, whatever floats your boat. When I make a day of it, I like to get a stupid fancy iced coffee, put my phone on do not disturb, and go to the art museum, thriftie, and/or my favorite bookstore. Cook yourself a nice meal, go on a bike ride, draw a bath, whatever helps you unwind, and see how you feel. What do you notice? This type of intentional aloneness is both distracting from the kind of feelings that can overwhelm and helpful in carving out time that is intentionally detached from your relationship, hopefully (and this takes awhile) making it easier to feel comfortable alone in the future. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, either. As much as you can, try to make your time alone about what feels good for you!
Finally, when we know or feel like we’re “overreacting” emotionally, it can be really easy to slip into feelings of guilt or isolate ourselves. It is more than okay to reach out for support, even from your partner, despite our earlier contention that it’s best not to slip into constant contact mode, and you deserve to feel comfortable and secure. It’s all about striking a balance between what we know are perhaps not our healthiest tendencies and what we imagine to be our “best selves,” not to mention treating yourself with the same compassion when you’re struggling that you would want to extend to your partner or a friend.
Take care, and take it easy,
jimmy & bryan
jimmy & bryan are two Minneapolis punks trying to stay cool while rooting for another hot summer. You can send them your advice inquiries at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.