What began as a bonafide excuse to enjoy introversion now requires us to reassess our habits to respond to the negative effects of solitude

A woman sits on a chair in an apartment, staring out of a window.
A woman sits on a chair in an apartment, staring out of a window.
Credit: Anthony Tran, Pexels

Nine months ago, a Thursday night would’ve found me at a music venue chatting with friends or grabbing dinner downtown. Or maybe it’d have found me here, just like this, but with something to look forward to in the days ahead. Perhaps I’d have gone to a twelve-step meeting in the morning down at the local church or met up with a colleague for coffee after lunch.

But nine months after the coronavirus pandemic sparked international lockdowns, time alone is the new normal. I work from home and live alone in a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle. What began as a bonafide excuse to guiltlessly enjoy my introversion now feels like solitary confinement. …

Use boundaries as tools to keep relationships healthy, balanced, and loving.

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Credit: Andrea Piacquadio [Pexels]

When I first learned about the concept of boundaries, I imagined how freeing it would feel to finally be able to say an empowered “no” at every turn. I imagined myself turning down drinks from leering strangers at bars, denying eager clipboard-carriers’ requests for money, and rejecting requests to do more than my fair share of work projects.

“‘No’ is a complete sentence,” would be my anthem.

Eventually, though, I began to understand that boundaries were more complicated than simply saying no to strangers. …

How to identify and change codependent behaviors that may be ruining your ability to have a mature relationship

Illustration of a hand with strings tied to the joints, implying that a marionette is out of frame.
Illustration of a hand with strings tied to the joints, implying that a marionette is out of frame.
Illustration credit: z_wei

Have you been attempting to control your partner without realizing it?

Have you ever justified taking on your partner’s emotional, relational, financial, or logistical responsibilities with:

  • “I can do it better and/or more quickly, so I might as well just do it myself.”
  • “They aren’t making it a priority, so I have to do the legwork for them.”
  • “They won’t do it themselves, so I have to do it instead.”
  • “If they don’t do it, they’ll have to face the consequences. I don’t want them to have to deal with that.”
  • “I want to save the relationship but they don’t want to participate, so I’ll do the work for both of us.” …

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Credit: Jen Theodore

A woman struggles to tell her boss that no, she won’t work overtime for the third day this week.

A man feels resentful in his relationship because he always gives and his partner always takes.

A woman wants to stop faking pleasure in the bedroom but doesn’t know how.

Though their stories differ, these folks share a painful secret: they worry that if they are truly and authentically themselves, they will not be loved or accepted. They have spent their lives morphing into smaller, more “acceptable” versions of who they are, sacrificing their authenticity along the way.

I, too, am a recovering people-pleaser. …

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Credit: Gaelle Marcel

Mornings are always the best. Mornings are sunrises, steaming mugs of coffee, and red carpets of infinite promise unfurled. Mornings are meditating, centering, and bulleted lists.

In the morning, it’s easy to forget that yesterday, you could hardly summon the energy to clean your apartment, to see anyone, to do anything at all.

Sometime around noon, your caffeine-induced elation dwindles. Distracted, you tab-hop between Facebook and LinkedIn and timidly check your bank account. You sigh, remembering your first five-figure month only a season ago. It feels like years. …

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Credit: Filipe De Rodrigues

There is an art to shrinking yourself.

As a young girl, I was painfully earnest. I hadn’t learned the craft of nonchalance that was as much a requirement for being liked as name-brand clothes and Livestrong wristbands. One day, as I chattered excitedly on the school bus home, my seat-mate scolded me: “Hailey. Calm down. You’re so annoying.”

This is how I learned that my enthusiasm made me unlikable.

At home, short tempers led to angry arguments. After conflicts, my dad would withdraw his love in a stormy silent treatment⁠ until I cleared the air — or until we both agreed to pretend that nothing ever happened. I learned the art of walking on eggshells. When I was fifteen, Dad and I got into an argument and didn’t speak for days. …

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Credit: H Heyerlin Ri

At first, living your truth is tough. Sometimes it gets harder before it gets easier. Here are seven reminders to help you trust your gut and keep going.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” — Christine Caine

The phrase “personal growth” has always felt counterintuitive to me. Personal growth feels less like growth and more like stripping away — of peeling back the expectations, fears, and shame that we’ve been conditioned with since birth. Beneath these layers lies our truest nature — our inner divinity — our most aligned selves. …

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Credit: Arthur Poulin

“Our society has become a conspiracy against joy. It has put too much emphasis on the individuating part of our consciousness — individual reason — and too little emphasis on the bounding parts of our consciousness, the heart and soul.” — David Brooks

When I was in elementary school, I avoided group projects like the plague. When given the choice to work alone or as part of a team, I always chose to work alone.

When I joined a new class, club, or sport, my parents inquired how I measured up against the rest.

“So what do you think, Hail?” Dad would ask me. “Are you the fastest on the team? Did you get the highest grade?” …

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Boundaries are the expectations and limitations that create a firm outline around your sense of self. They separate your physical space, feelings, needs, and responsibilities from others’. In essence, boundaries provide a container from which you can live safely and freely.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Darlene Lancer describes several types of boundaries:

Material boundaries determine whether you give or lend things, such as your money, car, clothes, books, food, or toothbrush.

Physical boundaries pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. Do you give a handshake or a hug — to whom and when? …

Proven ways to stay healthy in a new relationship—even if you’ve had codependent tendencies in the past

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Credit: Toa Heftiba

Daring to fall in love—especially after you’ve lost yourself in the process once before—is a courageous act. And if you are prone to codependency, you must be vigilant about protecting yourself and preserving your energy in a new relationship.

Before realizing I was prone to codependent behavior myself, I lost my sense of identity in all of my romantic relationships. For me, a new love was equivalent to an overflowing schedule, detachment from friends, and decreasing interest in my hobbies. More love meant less me.

Losing your sense of self in a relationship sparks a unique brand of pain. Slowly, insidiously, your social circle shrinks, your alone time whittles away, and you neglect the passions and hobbies that were once so important to you. These subtle injuries to your innermost self pass, often unnoticed, over time. …


Hailey Magee, Codependency Recovery Coach

Helping you conquer the people-pleasing pattern, set empowered boundaries, and master the art of speaking your truth. www.haileymagee.com.

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