What Is Codependency, What Are The Signs Of It, And How Can You End It?

Last updated by Katie M.

Codependency is a relationship disorder characterized by a strong subservience to a partner who experiences frequent difficulties, for example, they could be addicted to alcohol or gambling. Here, the co-dependent person is prepared to help their partner at any cost, even if it means sacrificing their own needs for the benefit of their partner. However, their sacrifices inevitably cause them great frustration, which they never really deal with. In fact, they never really acknowledge the plight of their annoyance and regularly find themselves in a state of denial, surrounded by tons of unspoken and unexpressed points of view. Yet, in spite of the suffering experienced, the co-dependent person is unable to free themselves from this enabling behavior pattern and dysfunctional relationship. Here are signs you are co-dependent and how you can break the cycle.

What Is Codependency, What Are The Signs Of It, And How Can You End It?
Contents:

Am I co-dependent? Here are 6 signs you are

Here are the main symptoms you need to look out for.

1) You never express your needs

A co-dependent person has learned to keep their needs to themselves and does everything to satisfy others. Indeed, this is a learned behavior and here, their sense of well-being depends on the acceptance of others, meaning they are afraid to displease. They have low self-esteem and are always comparing themselves with others. This cognitive behavior no doubt stems from a dysfunctional family background and chaotic childhood.

>>> Read the 10 signs you grew up in a toxic family

2) You feel responsible for others

Medical reviewers agree that people who are co-dependent always feel responsible for their partner or even their family members, whilst, in return, they show little to no interest in the co-dependent person. Furthermore, this addictive behavior means that you try, without fail, to control situations, in order to ensure they do not deteriorate further, as a means of protecting your loved ones.

3) You regularly put yourself at risk

Someone with a dependent personality disorder is ready to do anything, including acting against their own interest, to safeguard their partner's love. That's right, essentially they are desperate to be loved and can even display a relationship addiction too. In this context, these folks may pretend to be happy and feign positive well-being, despite being truly unhappy and unsatisfied with their situation.

4) You ignore your own problems

The co-dependent's attention is utterly focused on the needs of their troubled partner, to the point where they actually ignore their own. No matter what they are going through, the relationship dynamic will always ensure that their partner's problems outweigh their own.

5) You begin to rebel

Certain signs of this behavior appear when the co-dependent's suffering becomes so intense that they can no longer stand the state of submission or the attitude of their loved one. Here, they will act out and do anything necessary to break the cycle and escape.

6) The roles reverse

This type of relationship has alternating phases of dependence and counter-dependence, meaning a complete reversal can also occur, and the power balance between the two parties shifts and therefore establishes a new form of hierarchy.

>>> Discover 8 reasons why malignant narcissists are so dangerous

How to stop being co-dependent - 3 Important phases to breaking the cycle

Here's how you can overcome co-dependency.

1) Identify the origins of your emotional dependency

To break the cycle, it is essential to understand where this need comes from and how it governs your relationships. Identifying the origins of your disorder is the first step in overcoming this psychological difficulty. Here, you must look back at your childhood, paying special attention to the relationship you may have had with your parents, and all the little humiliations you suffered at school. Sometimes a very small trigger can lead to a severe emotional dependency in adulthood. You may also remember the emotional shocks that you experienced, in particular traumatic events.

2) Understand how this behavior impacts your relationships

Taking stock of your relationships is important because this is often where emotional dependence does the most damage. In particular, it will help you answer the question: why do my relationships keep repeating? Performing this level of introspection will also shed light on why your relationships are so unbalanced, to the point of being toxic.

3) Set boundaries in all realms of your life

Our third tip for overcoming emotional dependency is to set boundaries in your relationships. To continue the example of co-dependency in a relationship, it's safe to bet that you tend to completely erase yourself in your relationships. It is possible that often self-deprecation is the only way you can keep a toxic partner around. To help you in this stage of emotional withdrawal, you can, for example, make a list of all the events or elements that hurt you in a relationship and ask yourself why you forgave that person. Verbalizing the origin of your forgiveness will allow you to take a step back in your tolerance threshold and to identify more easily the elements for which it is possible to forgive and those for which you should not forgive.

Co-dependent narcissist: Why are these personalities attracted to each other?

Even if their behaviors are opposite, their objective remains the same, the co-dependent and the narcissist want to be loved. Now, their relationship is not always pleasant, yet it remains very difficult to stop. For the narcissist, this relationship means they’ve found someone who compliments them, meets their needs, indulges them, and takes care of them, all while inflating their ego and sense of entitlement. As for the co-dependents, it's the charm, excessive attention, and love bombing that narcissists give them at the beginning of their relationship. 

The two play roles where they satisfy each other's needs at first until the traits of their conditions start to show and problems start to creep in. When this happens, the relationship can end up being extremely toxic. Once the narcissist is sure of the co-dependent's love and attachment, they lose their charm and focus more on themselves and their own selfish needs. For the emotional addict, this can be devastating. In turn, the addict increases their need for approval and sacrifices more to regain the attention of the narcissist.

>>> Read; Are narcissists attracted to each other?

Editor's opinion - Healing takes time

Moving on and truly healing from a toxic relationship takes time, which is why recovering victims shouldn't pressure themselves into feeling better by a certain date. Everyone has their own timeline, just like everyone experiences their own trauma and heartache. The most important thing is to get better and to view things in a new and more positive light.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, and be happy... Let’s do it here and now!

#BornToBeMe

Be sure to check out these articles too;

Article presented by Katie M.

Discover the world through my eyes.

Our most popular 'relationship' articles:

Why Am I So Used To Falling Out Of Love At Record Speed?

My longest relationship only lasted 2 years, which might not seem like a long time, but it's a big achievement for me because I can never usually get past the 6-month mark without becoming bored stiff. Even though my past relationship have always been healthy, they've never satisfied me, which lead me to wonder am I cursed with eternal dissatisfaction? Relationships never seem to excite me for long enough and always eventually fizzle out, leaving me wanting to head for the hills. Despite my past failures, I still believe in love and want to get to the bottom of why I give up on romance so easily.

8 Reasons Why Ghosters Always Come Back 👻

If you’ve ever given online dating a whirl, the chances are you’ve been ghosted by someone. Now, for those of you who are unaware of this practice, it involves putting a sudden end to a relationship without offering any form of explanation. If I had to estimate how many times this has happened to me, I’d say there are definitely over 10 guys out there who owe me an explanation as to why they suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth… However, all the confusion and short-lived heartbreak has taught me that ghosters always seem to reappear at one time or another.

Do Narcissists Enjoy Kissing?

Kissing is a deeply intimate act, and although in popular culture it is often classed as only being worthy of first base, it does in fact go way beyond that toxic evaluation. We’ve no doubt all had at least one lingering kiss that we’ll never forget; one which left all of our senses tingling and hungry for more. Well, that memorable smooch left us reminiscing because it was sincere and meant something. In short, it encapsulated love and romance, which are two things that narcissists are quite simply incapable of feeling.

Am I Too Demanding Of My Partner And Too Tough On Him?

Excessive expectations, intense routines and warped images of relationships often make our love stories difficult to manage and maintain. A relationship is one of life’s greatest balancing acts and requires compromises to be made regularly. In short, one cannot be too demanding or severe with their partner if they want a smooth sailing union. Being so tough is a way of testing our partner's feelings for us, yet this can lead to extremely toxic behavior. Although, thanks to our tips, you'll know how to turn things around.

Can A Narcissist Be Faithful?

Narcissists often get bad press, and although many of us try to see the best in most people, in their case, it can be extremely difficult to find. The truth is, folks with this personality disorder don’t exactly have many redeeming qualities that could potentially help to excuse and explain their borderline evil behavior. Plus, when it comes to love, their lack of empathy means they have next to no loyalty, which means many of them often end up cheating on their partners. Ladies, if you are in a relationship with a narcissist, the alarm bells ought to be truly deafening.

10 Signs He Is Hurting After A Breakup, Plus How To React

As women, we’ve no doubt been told all our lives that men deal with things differently, especially where feelings are concerned, right? You’ve most probably even heard that women come from Venus, whereas men come from Mars? Well, beyond sexist clichés, our previous experiences in love are sufficient to prove that we don’t handle things in the same way, particularly when separation is involved. Discover the 10 signs your ex is heartbroken and not yet ready to leave your love story in the past.

What Is Love Bombing?

You may not be familiar with the term love bombing, but this bittersweet composition of words is certainly traumatizing enough to send a few shivers down your spine. This term does indeed refer to a cycle of narcissistic abuse which normally occurs at the beginning of a relationship. This intense period of abuse certainly paves the way for a truly unhealthy relationship, yet, many of us, (myself included) fail to recognize the red flags involved because our partners often seem so caring and implicated. So, without further ado, discover the indications your partner is using this devious manipulation tactic against you.

Open Relationships

Most of the time, when we think of a couple, we think of two people and only two people. This vision can be reassuring, even seductive for some, but for others, it’s far from being fulfilling. What if fidelity was no longer an obligation? What if the exclusive relationship was an outdated model and what if we moved on to an open relationship?

Infidelity

I’m lucky to have never experienced infidelity, but I know that if it happened to me, I’d be devastated. Cheating can destroy a relationship and lead to a break-up, however, you can also choose to save it. But being betrayed like this can affect our mental health and destroy us as well. Should you save your relationship at any cost after infidelity, or is it better to choose yourself?

Relationship essentials:

Bipolar People In Relationships

It's not easy to have a romantic relationship when you have a psychological disorder like bipolar. Love and bipolar disorder may seem incompatible, but they are not. Just because you have bipolar disorder doesn't mean you can't have a healthy relationship. There are just some things to keep in mind, whether it's the person with bipolar or the person living with a bipolar person. What are the elements to know in order for the relationship to go well? Read on for more insights.

The 4 Types Of Romantic Attachment

And yet another guy has escaped me… If you’ve ever said that to yourself, maybe you always go for the same type of person. In any case, I’ve been noticing this for a long time. I’ve also noticed that I was always doubting the relationship, which led to failure... These behaviors reflect a rather opposite type of romantic attachment. But what is a type of attachment? What does it show? Knowing them can help us understand a lot about ourselves and our relationships. Here’s an explanation.

My Boyfriend Is Very Family-Oriented... I’m Not!

And another Sunday at his dear mum’s house! My in-laws are everywhere. During our weekends, on our vacations, at some of our parties, and on our outings, I’m almost surprised we don’t all live together 🤦♀️. Should I suffer, or should I cut the cord for them with my teeth?

Take Our Love Attachment Style Quiz

"I never know where my path goes, but I walk better when my hand clasps yours." I love this Alfred de Musset quote so much because it perfectly illustrates how I feel about my relationship. It's also a great way to understand what my love attachment style is! Knowing how we attach to others, especially in a relationship, can help us understand how we function and how our partner functions. Here’s a full explanation for you.

The Radio Silence Technique

If there’s one thing that really gets under my skin, it’s when I hear advice on how to get your ex back through radio silence. I’m not a good example of this as I’ve tried it, but on the other hand, I’ve also experienced it. In both cases, it was nothing but suffering. It’s ultra-toxic behavior that only creates relational trauma. So it’s high time to forget this (very) bad idea!

How Do You Know If You Love Someone?

I love him, madly, passionately, madly... Or perhaps not at all... I'll admit it, I'm one of those people who know when they are in love, I operate on a crush and strong attraction basis. However, this is not the case for everyone! Sometimes we don't know if it's love, lust, or something else that we feel. How do you know if you are head over heels in love with someone? Love is a pretty mysterious feeling, but there are 10 confirmation signs which prove you've found that someone special.

How Long Will A Narcissist Rebound Relationship Last?

Narcissist rebound relationships generally last anywhere from 6-months to a year. Now, whilst the timeframe depends on each individual, these twisted personalities usually head into these relationships with a plan in mind, meaning they know exactly when and where they'll break things off. Plus, when they are in the final stages of a relationship with you, they are no doubt in the process of grooming their next victim. That's right, the need for a constant narcissistic supply means that they aren't likely to date any one person for an extensive period of time. For them, they require fresh blood every 6-months or so because they simply get bored. Let's take a look at the reasons why they keep their rebounds short, but not so sweet.

What Are The Signs Of True Love?

We all have a certain idea of what true love is, you know, the everlasting one they always show in Disney movies, but the question is, how do we recognize it? Now, no matter how you define it, if you don't find these 10 signs in the person you share your life with, then, unfortunately, your love relationship is not genuine. As with everything when it comes to relationships, sometimes the problem is you, and sometimes it's about the other person. As you go through all these points, think about what you are giving/offering to the other person in return and your points to work on.

10 Reasons Why Your Ex Slept With Someone Else After Your Breakup

We are all unique individuals, and we, therefore, go about handling breakups and the other obstacles life throws our way, differently. Now, when it comes to breakups, there are those of us that almost become celibate and decide that they can't stand the idea of getting to know anyone ever again. Then, on the other hand, there are those that fill their phones with dating apps and jump from one one-night stand to the next. This second scenario may seem harmless, but once we dig a little deeper into the repercussions of it, we soon realize that sleeping with other people so freshly out of a relationship masks troubling sentiments of unhappiness and uneasiness.

Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

How to detect a narcissist


"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde