Codependency: Recognizing Signs and Finding Recovery

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What Is Codependency?
How To Stop
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What is Codependency?
Codependency is a psychological state in which individuals become overly focused on meeting the needs of others, often at the expense of their own happiness and well-being. This often leads to codependent relationships, where one person seeks validation and gratifying attention from another person while their partner has to fulfill that need.

Signs of Codependency
- Compulsive Attention
- Fear of Abandonment
- Lack of Outside Support Systems
- Enmeshment
- Feelings of Doubt
- Resentment

Examples of Codependency
- "People pleasing" or constantly going out of your way to make others happy, even if it means sacrificing your own needs in the process.
- Putting others' needs ahead of your own and feeling guilty if you don't.
- Taking on too much responsibility for other people's feelings and actions.
- Feeling responsible for solving other people's problems.
- Feeling like you can't say no, or feeling obligated to help people even if it's not in your best interest.
- Feeling like you can't be yourself when around certain people and changing who you are to make them happy.
- Having difficulty identifying and expressing your own feelings.

How to Stop Being Codependent
- Understand what Codependency is
- Acknowledge that the problem exists
- Set boundaries with the other person
- Take care of yourself emotionally and physically
- Seek mental health professional help if needed

Codependency Recovery
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Self-Help Books and Support Groups
- Getting Help

Codependency can have a serious impact on our lives, both in the short and long term. It's talked about in dating, but it can also happen with friends, at school, with family, and in other parts of life.

Unlike most other psychological issues, codependency is challenging to identify and overcome. You need to put in effort and time to figure out why it happens and how to fix it.

You can take action and make progress toward getting past codependent tendencies. We'll chat about the clues that show someone might be codependent, how it changes us, and ways to break free from it.

What is codependency?

Codependency is when someone puts others' happiness before their own. It's like when one friend always wants to be the center of attention and the other friend always tries to make them the star. [1]

Codependency is when you put others first, ignore your own feelings and needs, try to solve others' problems, avoid upsetting things, stay too attached to people, and try to control situations. People with certain conditions, like Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are more likely to show behaviors where they depend too much on others. To learn more, read 10 Things Narcissistic Mothers Do To Their Children And Why.

Adults who grew up with parents addicted to drugs or alcohol, lived in challenging home environments, cared for children with behavior issues, or looked after ill individuals often exhibit codependency. Moreover, this condition affects women more often than men. [2]

People who are codependent often have a hard time valuing themselves and sharing their feelings because they're used to putting others first. It's important to spot this behavior early so we can help them learn better ways to connect with others and the world. It's also a silent monster that lurks in the deep corridors of relationships. A symbiotic yet toxic dance of emotions where your happiness is entirely dependent on another. In the process, your emotional awareness diminishes.

Signs of codependency

Five signs can state that someone may be in a codependent relationship; [3]

  • Compulsive Attention

It may be a sign of codependency if you start to obsess over your partner or feel the need to be with them all the time. This means things like always checking in on them, wanting to know what they're up to, and getting worried if they don't answer.

  • Fear of Abandonment

People in codependent relationships fear being alone. They may act clingy, skip enjoyable activities, or resist being away from their partner even when needed.

  • Lack of Outside Support Systems

If someone leans too much on their partner for feelings of support, they might not have other close friends. Codependent people might not have a lot of outside support, so they depend on their partner to feel valued.

  • Enmeshment

In an enmeshed relationship, two people are so tied that they feel like one person. They lack clear personal boundaries, and they might focus on one person's needs over the other's. In these relationships, both individuals feel they cannot exist of each other.

  • Feelings of Doubt

People in codependent relationships often feel unsure about themselves because their partners criticize them. This makes it hard for them to make decisions without their partner's approval, causing low self-confidence and doubt.

  • Resentment

Feeling upset with your partner because they aren't doing their share or you feel used can be a sign of a codependent relationship. This frustration can grow if one person feels they're doing most of the work in the relationship and the other isn't helping enough.

A woman with Codependency issues reaching for a hug

Examples of codependency

Codependency isn't in romantic relationships. It can happen between family, friends, or even with yourself. Here are some typical examples of codependent behavior:

  • "People pleasing" or constantly going out of your way to make others happy, even if it means sacrificing your own needs in the process.
  • Putting others' needs ahead of your own and feeling guilty if you don't.
  • Taking on too much responsibility for other people's feelings and actions.
  • Feeling responsible for solving other people's problems.
  • Feeling like you can't say no, or feeling obligated to help people even if it's not in your best interest.
  • Feeling like you can't be yourself when around certain people and changing who you are to make them happy.
  • Having difficulty identifying and expressing your own feelings.

The problem with codependent behavior

Codependency can be damaging to both the person exhibiting it and the people they are in relationships. This type of learned behavior often leads to an unbalanced power dynamic, where one person feels like they have to take care of or fix the other. This can be harmful to both parties as it creates a relationship based on imbalance instead of mutual respect and understanding.

Codependency can cause blaming and feeling bad. One person might blame the other for how they feel or act, and the other might feel bad about themselves and their urge to "help" too much.

These unhealthy relationships can hurt both people over time, and it's tough for them to change these habits.

How to stop being codependent

If you think you are a codependent person, congrats on taking the initiative to better yourself! The ambition to become less codependent is something that not everyone has. It's an admirable quality, and you should be proud of yourself for recognizing it in yourself. Below are some steps you can take to begin your journey toward codependency recovery:

Understand what Codependency is

Codependency is a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself reliant on another person to meet your emotional or physical needs. This can be harmful to both you and the other person involved. Codependency can lead to feelings of low self-worth, resentment, and anxiety. Separation anxiety in teenage relationships is also one of the roots that can lead to codependency in adulthood.

It's important to understand that codependency is not the same as being in a healthy, interdependent relationship.

a concise table summarizing key aspects of codependency

Acknowledge that the problem exists

It's key to realize that codependent actions are a problem in a relationship. While it's hard to look at what you're doing wrong, knowing that you need to fix the codependency will help you improve.

Set boundaries with the other person

Setting healthy boundaries with the other person is one of the essential things you can do to stop being codependent. This includes learning to say no when you don't want to do something, establishing time and energy limits, and communicating your needs. Setting boundaries can be difficult, but need to for protecting yourself from further harm. For this, you might need to learn about Affective Communication.

Take care of yourself emotionally and physically

Another important step in breaking free from codependency is taking care of yourself and . This means making time for activities that make you happy, such as hobbies or spending time with friends and family. It also means eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself will help you to feel better about yourself and less dependent on others.

Seek mental health professional help if needed

If you're having a hard time with codependency, consider getting help from a online therapist or counselor. They can help you understand why you're codependent and teach you better ways to handle it.

Codependency recovery

Recovering from codependency can be challenging, but it is possible. The Wikipedia article on codependency says that people often need help from a licensed counselor to address it. Through therapy, they can understand their codependent habits and learn how to handle them better.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Counselors help clients spot negative thinking that leads to codependent actions and teach them better ways to react to challenging situations or triggers.

Embracing Emotional Intelligence

Healing begins by delving deep into one’s emotional core, recognizing and acknowledging the heightened senses and anxieties. It involves answering the profound question, "why am I so emotional?" and working towards developing a balanced emotional state.

Social Media Detox

The journey to break free from codependency often requires a period of solitude and self-reflection. In this digital age, distancing oneself from the virtual noise is vital. Learning why social media can be toxic aids in creating a space where self-discovery and healing can thrive.

Intellectual and Emotional Empowerment

Empowering the mind and nurturing intellectual health is a key component to breaking free from codependency. Engaging in activities that foster intellectual health can anchor one’s identity beyond the confines of dependency, fostering self-reliance and confidence.

Building Holistic Wellness

Healing from codependency is more than an emotional journey; it encompasses a total well-being approach. It's about defining what it means to be truly healthy, incorporating physical, mental, and spiritual elements to forge a balanced, independent self.

Addressing High Functioning Anxiety

Codependency is often linked with underlying anxiety issues. Unravelling and addressing high functioning anxiety provides a pathway to alleviating the pressures that fuel codependent behaviors.

Self-Help Books and Support Groups

Apart from individual therapy, there are many resources to help people recovering from codependency. These include self-help books and support groups like Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), Al-Anon/Alateen, and others. Wikipedia says these groups offer safe places to share stories and provide helpful materials and discussions on recovering from codependency.

It may take some time to recover from codependency, but it is important to focus on more than stopping the bad behaviors. It is also essential to develop healthy relationships built on trust and respect.

Mental health professionals can help with trust problems and teach how to set good boundaries in relationships. This includes understanding and valuing your own and others' feelings and limits. By learning good communication, people can build strong relationships without harming their well-being.


Codependency is a serious issue that affects a person's relationships, sometimes putting them in risky situations. If someone shows signs of being codependent, they should seek help. With proper therapy and support, they can get better and have good relationships with themselves and others.


Does Codependency Ever Go Away?

Yes, codependency can be managed and eventually overcome with the right therapy, support, and self-care. Recovery is a process that may take some time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. With a supportive therapist or group to help you through, you can learn the skills to identify and manage codependent behavior.

What Can I Do To Help Someone Who Is Codependent?

Start by showing them compassion and understanding. Encourage them to seek help and support, such as therapy or a support group, and let them know that you are there for them. Encouraging healthy behaviors, such as self-care and boundary-setting, can also be beneficial.


What is Codependency?
IJCER:  Exploring the Interplay between Perfectionism and Codependency: Examining the Mediating Role of the Desire for Social Approval
Wikipedia: Codependency
Elsevier: Psychometric Properties of the Turkish Form of Codependency Assessment Tool
Signs of Codependency
WebMD: Signs of Codependency
Codependency Recovery
Wikipedia: Codependency
Getting Help
Wikipedia: Codependency

⚠️Disclaimer: The information provided on this health blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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