In a healthy relationship, both partners are meant to support one another while still being capable of having their own lives apart from one another. This, however, is not the case within co-dependent relationships. What often happens here is that an enabler comes to the rescue of their partner in the relationship and consequently enables unhealthy or negative behaviour.

It can be hard to see yourself in this way but there is a point where words like “supportive” and “loyal” do not describe what is truly happening.

Recognising that you, or someone close to you, is an enabler is the first step in changing the dynamic or even realising that help may be needed. Here are a few signs, from our family law professionals, to look out for in order to identify an enabler in a toxic relationship, as well as, how to put an end to unhealthy behavioural patterns.

1. Putting The Needs Of Your Partner Before Your Own

The enabler within a toxic relationship tends to put the feelings and needs of their partner before their own, even at the expense of their own well-being.

To put a stop to this, you should practise saying the word “no”.  Your needs are just as important as your partner’s. Be sure that yours is a partnership, according to the very definition of the word.

2. The Relationship Does Not Ever Seem To Get Better

No matter what you do, if the circumstances that surround the unhappiness with your relationship do not change, then it is most likely due, at least in part, to a lack of effort from your partner.

This is something that you cannot do anything about. It should not be a case where one side pulls more weight than the other – that is not how a healthy dynamic works. There is no amount of soothing or fixing that can change your partner’s lack of interest. All you can do is give the other person a chance to fix problems as they come rather than having you swooping in every time.

3. If Your Life Revolves Around Theirs

It may be true that the two of you share a life together but, your life should still be your own and vice versa. You should both have interests outside of one another. Enablers, however, tend to put their hobbies and interests off and instead focus all their energies on what is going on in their partner’s life.

It is crucial to have your own space and your own interests. Try to dig deep and find what it is that used to excite you and bring you joy.

All this being said, there is no blame in such actions, nor is this blog meant to encourage anyone to stay within a toxic relationship. Be sure that you are in a safe place and seek help if you are looking to escape a toxic environment. This help can come in the form of finding sanctuary, speaking with a friend, or even contacting a divorce lawyer, or a general attorney for advice. There are plenty of lawyers in Durban that will be able to assist you with any legal advice or action should you need it.

Are you looking for a lawyer in Durban? We have a team of family law professionals who are equipped to help you with your needs or the needs of those around you. Contact Durban Law Offices on 031 836 0307 or email us at so that one of our lawyers may assist you and/or provide you with advice.