Seldom Seen Way











{June 3, 2017}   Codependency and Power Exchange

When you read these two words together, it seems to be an oxymoron. TPE relationships have one person in control and another “blindly” follow – or so it seems. The last couple of weeks I have been posting several memes on Facebook (and here) that encompass a few of things I am going to talk about. It has been getting me thinking a lot and has come up in conversation with a few different people.

Isn’t a TPE relationship dependent on each other to make it work? When does it cross the line into codependency? Can codependency be healthy? What really is the difference between the two?

In both a codependent and a TPE relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive/obedient/submissive and can’t/won’t/accepts another to make decisions for themselves and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.

While you are in a TPE relationship, you would hope that you are growing as a person (first) and as a couple. That is the difference – codependency stops us from examining the best part of ourselves. It also hinders the potential for further growth in the relationship – and within our own growth as a person.

There are some things to do to stop the co-dependency. Remember YOU can still serve your Master, without losing yourself.

S-types tend to focus all their attentions on another and spend their lives thinking about others. When this happens you may not understand how to determine your own needs, wants, goals, and desires.  We need to learn and practise to perform self-care techniques in order to focus on our own well-being. These include reducing your stress, physical activity, getting enough sleep, and eating well.

I think every person needs to build healthy, flexible boundaries in all of our relationships. You learn this by lovingly detaching yourself – be your own person and learn to release your control of others needs and well-being.

I find the hardest thing to do is recognise your internal criticisms and personal need for perfection, by accepting yourself and any uncomfortable emotions. I say – own them – they are yours and deal with them. Even as s-type you can become assertive about your personal needs and values.

I find that many of the characteristics of both mimic each other … sometimes a little too closely. Interesting enough, I find that it can be from either side of the slash or together as a couple.

One thing I have noticed with many relationships is the Art of Enabling. This is a sign of an unhealthy codependence. Too many times, I have witnessed the use of enabling to help ease any type of relationship tension caused by one partner’s awkward and/or difficult habits.

Some examples include never letting them speak for themselves, bailing your partner out as to not having to deal with situations, repeatedly giving them another chance, ignoring the problem altogether, accepting their excuses, always being the one trying to fix the problem, or constantly coming to the rescue (or fondly called White Knighting)

What other things do you do that would make you think you are in a co-dependent relationship?

I hear too often (and I know I have used the phrase on an occasion or two) is the phrase “I can’t live without you” Another variation of it:  “I don’t know what I would do if you were not here”.

Romanticising M/s to this degree is not a healthy thing. I know, this is supposed to be romantic, but if you really look at it, it’s not. You sound more like an accessory which is different from the actual connection you should be having with your partner. It’s not sexy and it’s certainly not satisfying. I wish people would recognise their oneness and completeness so that you can truly enjoy the other person in your life rather than being half of a person who is incomplete without someone else.

Before we go too far down the rabbit-hole we should establish a couple of things. There are two types of people in a codependent relationship. You will need to determine which role (if not reversed in certain circumstances) your partner is in a codependent relationship.

The codependent individual is known as the ‘’caretaker’’, while the other individual in the relationship, is known as the ‘’taker’’. The takers typically have an unrestrained need for control of the attention, love, sexual relations, and approval they get and will give. This will often be shown through bouts of violence, blame, anger, irritation, criticism, neediness, righteousness, incessant talking, invasive touching, or emotional drama.

The taker can often express these behaviours outside of the codependent relationship. It can then affect their children, work relationships, and their relationships with friends.

There are several characteristics of being one with co-dependent behaviour.  I have noticed in past relationships I have had, and in relationships that are around me now the idea of co-dependency existing in a power exchange – on an entirely different level.

When looking at a TPE relationship, many of these characteristics/actions seem to occur over time without the participants even noticing. You get comfy in your roles, it seems to become the norm, and nothing is amiss…or so you think – yet the people around you see it very clearly.

One of the first things you will notice is that boundaries do not exist anymore. Boundaries divide up what are yours and somebody else’s – an imaginary line if you will. It isn’t referring to your body, money, and belongings, but to your feelings, thoughts and needs – your whole being. The person starts to have undefined or weak boundaries between themselves and others. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems or go the other way and blame their own on someone else.

Now because of your issue with boundaries, you will notice that a consequence of poor ones is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you either believe it or become defensive. You absorb their words because there is no boundary. With a boundary, you’d realize it was just their opinion and not a reflection of you and you don’t feel threatened by the differences.

The Master is NOT always right – OH! No! Please do not say that! It cannot be!  It is one thing to be -one- with the Master, it is another to still have a boundary and have a voice all on your own. I find that many follow like sheep (okay – sheep do not always go where you guide them – trust me…raised them at one point in my life – best analogy I can think of at the moment). If a Master cannot say they are wrong and/or apologize by owning something, you have bigger issues. It forms resentment and a breach of trust and respect.

Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They are afraid of being rejected or neglected, despite the fact that they can function on their own. Other ones need to always be in a relationship because they feel depressed or lonely when they are by themselves for too long. This characteristic makes it hard for them to end a relationship. This includes when the relationship is painful or abusive and then end up feeling trapped. Vicious cycle it becomes, and it seems we all know a couple or two that are experiencing this. I have personal experience with my ex-husband on this front.

One of the problems people face in getting help for codependency is that they are in denial about it. They just don’t want to face their problem(s). Usually, they think the problem is someone else or with the situation. They either keep complaining or trying to fix the other person. Some go from one relationship to another and never own up the fact that they are the ones with the problem.

A codependent also will deny their feelings and needs. Instead, they are focused on what others are feeling and don’t know what they are feeling.  The same thing goes for their needs. They focus on other people’s needs and not their own and might be in denial of their need for space and autonomy. A Master should see and push a slave to own their feelings. It is beneficial for the slave to have activities/hobbies that do not involve Master – and vice versa.

Codependency does create stress and leads to many different painful emotions. The shame and low self-esteem will create anxiety and fear about:

-Being judged – Am I “slavey” enough?

-Being a failure – What if I can’t do what is asked of me?

-Making mistakes – “Oh no, I forgot to ask permission to eat.”

-Being alone/abandoned or even rejected “If I don’t do this, they will leave me”

-Being trapped “No one else will want me, I have nowhere to go”

 

These all, in turn, will lead to feelings of anger and resentment, depression, hopelessness, and despair.

How do you know you are in an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with your TPE Partner? These are some questions you could ask yourself.

Do you have a tendency to avoid conflict or uncomfortable emotions, or masking your emotions with passive-aggressive expressions of anger or humour?  Or does Master take it on for you instead? The codependent believes that help is needed and that the person in need cannot manage to make the right decisions or take the right actions to solve their own problems.

Do you take the responsibility for other people’s actions or overcompensate for your partner’s actions?

A codependent will expend enormous amounts of energy to take charge of another’s life-all under the guise of sincerely wanting to help. When the help or advice is ignored or rejected, does it feel like anger, abuse, and not being unappreciated?

Do you offer advice to others whether it is asked for or not? A codependent will jump at the opportunity to provide much-needed advice.

Codependents often do not understand boundaries. Once advice has been given, do they expect the advice to be followed?

Do you need others’ validation to feel good about yourself? Do you have an extreme preoccupation with the opinions of others or valuing their opinions over your own?

Do you have misconceptions that love means rescuing another person, which leads to constant thoughts of the other person’s needs instead of your own?

Do you go out of your way to please another, hoping to receive love, approval, or be accepted and liked? A codependent will feel victimised – if the approval is not given.

Do you give more than your share in the relationship? This is a tricky one, as a slave, you do a lot of things for the Master…the question is what are you getting back in return?

Do you have difficulty saying no or having guilt over being assertive?  There are ways to say you are not happy with something in a respectful manner. This goes both for your TPE relationship and other relationships you might have (i.e. family, friends).

Do you have difficulty communicating, identifying your own needs, or making decisions?

If these do not help you to identify based on these tendencies or behaviours, ask yourself questions that help reveal it.

Does/has the person you have a relationship with every hit or abused you in any way other than consensually and/or in a scene?  Abuse can be defined as emotional and mental besides physical.

Does the person use manipulation, shame, or guilt to control another’s behaviour? To get their way codependents will respond in a manner that will force compliance by others. These tactics may even be unconscious. And since everyone else’s behaviour is a reflection on the codependent, it is important that the codependent feel in control.

Do you get overwhelmed by how much you have to do, but never take the time to ask for help?

Do you go out of your way to avoid an argument?

Do you worry constantly about how others think about you? Do you think other people’s opinions are more important than yours?

Does the person you live with have a drinking or drug problem?

Do you find it hard to adjust to changes in any environment?

Do you get jealous or rejected when your partner spends times with friends/other people? This is one i know i have to fight with often – it is just a matter of owning the feeling and realizing that they need their space too.

Do you take everything personally or the person you are with does?  Because there are little to no boundaries in a codependent’s life, any remark, comment or action is a reflection back upon the codependent. This makes the need to feel in control at the forefront of a codependent’s Life.

Codependents develop techniques to lie to themselves about others’ behaviours, as they do not deal directly with their feelings. And because they feel responsible for others’ behaviours, they will justify and accuse others of their loved one’s poor behaviour. They sometimes even blame themselves for another’s poor behaviour, seeking to maintain control.

Codependent fears that if they are not successful at everything, or indeed expresses their feelings or needs, they will be rejected. In a codependent’s way of thinking, they will be unlovable. A codependent does not trust others easily or share openly because they will be exposed.

Do they act like a victim? Everything that happens either to the codependent or the loved one is a reflection on the codependent. Such people usually feel victimised and powerless and do not understand their role in creating their own reality.

This is just a few things to ponder when it comes to Codependency and how it can affect your relationship. Being in a total power exchange relationship can be difficult, however, if co-dependency is thrown in there too, it can make it unbearable.

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