10 Signs You May Be in a Codependent Relationship

Love & Learn 8

Codependency is a term usually associated with the partners of alcoholics, but it can apply to almost anyone. It’s just that addicts (people that take and take) and codependents (people that base their self-worth on their ability to give and give) are drawn together like magnets.

Which is unfortunate, because no one can give all the time with getting anything back, and addicts will never be forced to confront their own issues if there’s always someone there fixing everything for them. Codependents often develop their own substance abuse problem just from the sheer exhaustion and stress that naturally comes from a relationship with someone addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or themselves.

Relationships are hard, man, and there’s going to be a natural ebb and flow in even the best partnerships. But if you feel like you’re ebbing all the time and you’re banging your head on the wall trying to figure out how to make it flow again, all the while being frustrated that your partner doesn’t seem to care as much as you do ... you might be a codependent.

Here are the top 10 signs of codependency:

  1. People Pleasing: Codependents go above and beyond to make people happy. They’ll think nothing of accepting last-minute requests like baking dozens of cookies for the bake sale tomorrow, and even if they feel resentful about it, they’ll never admit it.
  2. Sacrifice: They take a lot of pride in their willingness and ability to sacrifice what they want for what they feel others need. They hope it will all even out in the end.
  3. Poor Boundaries: Saying no to someone is incredibly difficult for a codependent. They let people take advantage of them and usually don’t even know they’re doing it because they’re givers and they like being givers.
  4. Self-Worth Defined By Others: They need others to tell them they’re doing a good job before they can feel good about their accomplishments. They doubt their thoughts, words, actions, and deeds until they feel sufficiently validated by outside sources.
  5. Crippling Fear of Rejection: Nobody likes rejection. Codependents fear it to the point where they avoid it at all costs.
  6. Control Freak: With all the emotional ups and downs of allowing others to validate their existence, codependents like controlling what they can.
  7. Taking Credit: Because codependents enjoy making others happy so much, they take credit for other people’s emotions. The downside to this is that they feel like it’s also their fault when people are sad or angry. They don’t grasp the concept that they are only responsible for what they say and do, not for how others react to it.
  8. Highly Reactive: Speaking of reactivity ... because they take credit for other people’s emotions, they don’t take credit for their own. So if someone says something that upsets them, then it must be a personal attack, and zomg! why doesn’t that person like me??
  9. Lacking Communication Skills: No one can give everything all the time, so codependents don’t ask questions or clarify requests because they fear disappointing someone if they have to disagree or say no. They reason that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
  10. They Put Relationships Above Themselves: They have no concept of self-care or putting their own oxygen masks on first. They wear themselves out in dysfunctional relationships because the relationship must be saved at all costs. They feel selfish if they take care of themselves, so they don’t.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these signs? Have you managed to overcome any of them?

Image via Michael Haegele/Corbis



To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Tiffany

Great topic, have to say I meet all of the above criteria. So what do i do next? Codependency seems completely normal.

nonmember avatar Tiffany

Great topic, have to say I meet all of the above criteria. So what do i do next? Codependency seems completely normal.

nonmember avatar Rashawn

#10. If both people but the relationship above their issues then that is what I consider pedestal treatment and acceptable as a trait I would want in my mate. Put our relationship first before you decide to emotionally cheat.

Erin Johnston Ratney

This is me to a T!  I am in a marriage that is fast approaching disaster.......  and I can't stop trying to fix it!  I feel that we have not worked hard enough to keep it going and he just wants to leave!  I am emotionally drained and suicidal at times because the fear of being with out the man that I am totally in love with is far greater then trying continue to be with him and keep trying to make things better!  I have no idea what to do?

nonmember avatar Renee

Erin Johnson Rainey,
If you are feeling suicidal it is IMPERATIVE that you get help NOW!!! Believe it or not, there are people that care. There is a national suicide hotline you can call: 1-800-273-8255. I'm sooo sorry you are going through this. I hope you come to realize that your identity is not defined by your husband, or any other person for that matter, but is defined by what makes you YOU. Those things make the unique person that you are. You don't have to go through this alone, pick up the phone, make the call, and they will steer you in the right direction. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way....

mamav... mamavaness

i must be codependent because this sounds like me 

Darle... DarleneLancer

Excellent summary. I'd add that addicts are codependent, too. 2 core symptoms are denial and shame. Shame leads to low self-esteem and painful emotions, like fear, anxiety, anger, and depression, and symptoms #1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, &10. Healing shame and building self-esteem are the core of recovery. 

Darlene Lancer, LMFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies  www.whatiscodependency.com


nonmember avatar amanda

I am codependent. There is a great book. "Codependent No More" It is very helpful. There are also recovery groups for codependency like Celebrate Recovery. I have been able to overcome some of these symproms but it is a constant battle.

1-8 of 8 comments