How do you break the terrible cycle of mutually destructive co-dependence in romantic relationships?
You know the kind of relationship I'm talking about: entangled, intense, all-consuming, lacking boundaries... and above all, seemingly impossible to end. Even in the bad times you can't really imagine breaking up, for any number of reasons -- it's been too long, you can't imagine life without your SO, you're addicted to the drama, you're self-destructive or you're very much in love even though you're just not good for each other.
Those who have been in such relationships will know that I don't mean "not good" in simply a conventional sense - I mean, really wrong. Destructive, pervertedly satisfying. Where some element of mutual
abuse is involved, where the relationship may even come to be defined by how far down you can go together.
If you've heard Tallahassee
by the Mountain Goats, then you really know what I'm talking about.
In my experience (and even more so in my friends' experiences) this is not usually about just a relationship but a way of relating to others, where co-dependence rears its head sooner or later in all or most of your close (especially romantic) relationships, until... what? That's my question, really.
How do you break the cycle of co-dependence? Or, if codependence an unavoidable part of relationships, where do you draw the line and how? Is it about who you're with more than who you are? In new relationships, how do you avoid falling back into bad habits? Please advise.
(Context: Yes, I have had what is referred to as "fucked up" relationships, but I am asking now because one of my very close friends has been, almost throughout the time I have known her, in long (2-3 years, and she's only in her mid-twenties), difficult, dysfunctional romantic relationships. She is near the end of one now - but it's been "ending" for a long time and she just doesn't want to do it. I also feel like it gets worse every time, and I shudder to think what her next relationship might be like or might do to her. But beyond saying, "I've been there" - I'm at a loss for what to do. I haven't come up with a better solution for my own issues than simply not
being in a relationship - this is not a solution I can or particularly even want to offer my friend.)
I hope it's obvious that I'm looking for more than "your friend should be in therapy" type of responses (she is, by the way) - I would really like to hear from people who have been in similar situations and have come out of it with all their f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact. Especially people who have learned how to be better, live happier with another human being.
Apologies for the long explanation - this is my first post, I'll get better at it.