A co-dependent relationship is often a product of one or both of the partners lacking confidence and good communication — which are both musts when it comes to building a relationship. Unfortunately, many people can fall into such a trap, but it’s important to look for red flags to try and avoid doing so as much as possible.

For those looking to avoid falling into a co-dependent relationship, we have some helpful tips for you. Look, this isn’t to say that we don’t all have times when we need to lean more on our partner, but, generally speaking, when it becomes too much of a habit, that’s when things can become bad.

Since we’re all about the betterment of you and your relationships — both external and internal ones — here are some ways to avoid being co-dependent.

Recognize the problem

As with everything, when you want to make a change with yourself, it’s important to identify what the problem is and, from there, be honest with yourself about what (and why) you want to do to improve. Once you are open about the things you want to change, that’s when you can start making the necessary progress and start changing up your ways.

Look at your tendencies before the relationship

Although you may be in a co-dependent relationship now, step back for a moment and see what type of tendencies you had prior to being in such a relationship. If you’ve always been the type of person who hated being alone or isolated, the co-dependent tendencies may have existed for a longer time than you ever thought. It’s not only because you have someone by your side that this just started happening.

Establish boundaries

Sure, it’s great to have someone by your side all the time to hangout and create memories with, but you need to make sure you establish some sort of boundaries to help keep the relationship strong and expectations real. When a couple begins to rely on one another too much, spending every minute of the day together too quickly, that’s a tough habit to break. Early in the relationship, make sure you both stay individuals and spend time both alone and with friends/family.

Avoid negative thoughts

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own mind, with many of us often thinking we’re doing something wrong by not replying to a girlfriend’s text fast enough or tell her no when it comes to hanging out. Trust us, if she’s mature and confident, she’ll understand that it’s not personal, but just a way for you two to stay individuals. The last thing you should do is think negatively, though, as this will only lead to worse problems in the relationship down the road. Positivity and confidence, always, that’s the key to avoiding a co-dependent relationship, as it’s important to know you’re OK being alone.

Regroup or recalibrate your mind and actions

You’ve done all the grunt work in finding the problem and addressing things with your significant other, now’s the time for action. Like most things, before just jumping into the deep end and hoping you can stay afloat, sit down, calm your mind and focus on the things you want to change the most. This can involve making a checklist or setting goals each week for you and your partner, making sure things are healthy for both of you as you move forward. Don’t be too hard on yourself, either, co-dependency happens, so avoid feeling as if you need to do a full 180 on everything you were doing.