Codependency or Relationship Addiction

“If you live your life to please everyone else, you will continue to feel frustrated and powerless. This is because what others want may not be good for you. You are not being mean when you say NO to unreasonable demands or when you express your ideas, feelings, and opinions, even if they differ from those of others.” -Beverly Engel, The Nice Girl Syndrome

What are the symptoms of codependency in a relationship?

  • Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
  • Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?
  • Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
  • Do you have a hard time making decisions?
  • Is it hard for you to accept compliments from others?
  • Have you been told you are a people pleaser?
These thoughts and behaviors can inhibit individuals from maintaining healthy, equal relationships.

Is Codependency for women only?

Though codependency is significantly more prevalent in females, it is possible for men to struggle with this as well as it is a multi-generational issue. Codependent behaviors and thoughts are passed through families who ignore their dysfunction.  While all families demonstrate dysfunction, not addressing certain behaviors or thoughts such as fear, anger, pain, and shame allow unhealthy patterns to be passed on to the next generation. Studies show that families with the presence of alcoholism, the existence of physical or sexual abuse and families with overly protective parents who are rejecting or critical are likely to maintain codependent tendencies as a result of their childhood.

How do you deal with codependency?

There are five key things to consider when you are dealing with getting away from codependency and moving back to being soulmates or moving forward to whatever your relationship has in store for you and your partners.  These include awareness, detachment, self-care, establishing boundaries and adopting honesty as a core value in your relationship.


Awareness is the first step in recovery from codependency.  The next step is working through the following strategies, that are aimed at healing through understanding. The more codependency is understood, the easier it will be to cope with how it has evidenced in your life.

First, putting the focus back on oneself. This includes accepting responsibility and ceasing the amount of blame placed on others. This tension is evidenced in arguments, isolation and getting sick. Gaining this new perspective allows for the reduction of anxiety.


Understanding the idea of compassionate detachment and its role in caretaking is crucial. This includes considering one’s own needs and wants. Those with codependency tend to submerge themselves in the lives of others and this prevents these individuals from autonomy and the ability to grow as a person. Compassionate detachment allows for listening and responding to friends or loved ones but refraining from fixing the problem. Control is a large piece of codependency. Those struggling with codependency often feel the need to control the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of those around them. This strategy aims to allow for understanding that the only person one can change is themselves.


Another important objective in the treatment of codependency is self-care. Self-care is defined as what is done on a regular basis to support one’s well-being. For some, this means quality time with friends, regular exercise, reading a good book or getting a pedicure/massage. For others, self-care takes place in a weekly group or individual counseling.

Expressing how you really feel can be a difficult concept, that’s why it is common for codependents to lose touch with their feelings. Dysfunctional family patterns encourage the denial of feelings, which can lead to turbulence both emotionally and physically as a result of unexpressed feelings building up over time.


The ability to set and maintain appropriate boundaries is another area of potential dysfunction that is passed through generations. Unhealthy boundaries lead to the prevention of being able to balance on one’s own, which is necessary for healthy relationships.

Honesty is always the best policy. Being honest and open about feelings and the willingness to truly listen to others without demands and expectations is necessary for making and maintaining change.

Genuinely valuing oneself as a unique and important individual is the final strategy to heal from codependency. Self-destructive thoughts result in low-self esteem and self-esteem is greatly affected when an individual is no longer in touch with reality.

Changing these lifelong thoughts and habits isn’t a simple concept. Learning to appreciate yourself isn’t an overnight process. The support of a therapist can help in the confrontation of the core issues and encourage the empowerment needed for a genuinely happy life.

“We are lovable. Even if the most important person in your world rejects you, you are still real, and you are still okay.― Melody Beattie, “Codependent No More”  


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

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