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Am I In A Codependent Relationship? How To Identify Codependent Tendencies

codependent relationship

Have you ever asked yourself if your dynamic with your partner is… a little unhealthy? Maybe you’ve felt like a line has been crossed, or maybe you’re not exactly sure where the line should be. In today’s blog we’re discussing codependency, and how to identify codependent behavior in your relationships. We’ll ask the question: when does support turn into codependency, and how can we address these patterns in our lives? Let’s dive into what codependency entails, its signs, and steps towards healing and fostering healthier relationships.


What Is Codependency?

Codependency emerges within relationships where there’s an imbalance of power, leading to one person overly investing their time, energy, and focus into the other. Usually one partner needs saving, and the other is the savior. This rescue pattern can play out over and over again, in everything from airing frustrations to negative emotional spiraling to full-blown actual emergencies.

Both partners “get something” out of this arrangement: the savior gets to feel needed, important, stable or successful. The saved partner gets to feel that they are lovable, worthy, that someone cares. In many cases these feelings are sought in response to a lack in this area of self-image, probably due to prior trauma. 

This dynamic results in one partner sacrificing their needs, desires, and well-being to fulfill the other’s demands, sometimes without the latter’s conscious acknowledgment. Although it’s often observed in relationships involving substance use disorders, codependency can occur in any relationship, including those with family members, friends, colleagues, and even employers.

The crux of a codependent relationship lies in its heavy reliance on one another to function, causing both individuals to lose sight of their autonomy and self-worth. It’s a state where mutual support crosses into mutual dependency, not for growth but for mere survival in the relationship’s current form.


Recognizing Codependent Behaviors

Identifying codependency can be challenging due to its often-subtle manifestation in daily interactions and emotional exchanges. Here are some signs that may indicate the presence of codependent tendencies:

  • Feeling the Need to Rescue: Consistently feeling responsible for solving your partner’s problems can be a sign of codependency. This includes taking on their responsibilities or feeling guilty for their shortcomings.
  • Struggling with Self-care: If dedicating time to your well-being and interests makes you feel selfish or guilty, it might indicate codependency. Your emotional state should not be exclusively tied to your partner’s presence or approval.
  • Difficulty in Communication: Finding it hard to express your needs or feeling invalidated when you do can signal a codependent dynamic. Communication should be open and valued in a healthy relationship.
  • Losing Your Sense of Self: Prioritizing your partner’s needs to the extent that you lose connection with your own values, interests, and responsibilities is a major red flag.
  • Anxiety Over Partner’s Actions: Constant worry about your partner’s actions or the state of your relationship points to an unhealthy dependence on them for your emotional stability.


Why Is Codependency Harmful?

While the intention to support and care for a loved one is noble, codependency skews these actions into a form of self-sacrifice that benefits neither party in the long run. It fosters resentment, diminishes self-esteem, and can even perpetuate harmful behaviors in the partner being “cared for.” Ultimately, it prevents both individuals from experiencing the growth, autonomy, and fulfillment that healthy relationships can offer.


Breaking Free From Codependency


breaking codependence


Facing Codependence

The first step in addressing codependency is recognizing its presence in your relationship. This involves honest reflection on your behaviors, feelings, and the relationship dynamics.


How to Heal From Codependency

Healing from codependency requires intentional effort and often external support. Consider the following strategies:

  • Seek External Perspectives: Consult with trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can offer objective insights into your relationship dynamics.
  • Reevaluate Your Values: Reflect on your core values and assess where you may have compromised them. Understanding your worth and beliefs is crucial for setting boundaries and reclaiming your sense of self.
  • Journaling: Documenting your thoughts, feelings, and relationship experiences can help you identify patterns of codependency and areas for growth.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to assert your needs and establish limits within your relationship. Healthy boundaries are essential for mutual respect and understanding.


How to Break Codependency

Breaking free from codependent behaviors involves developing a stronger sense of individuality and self-reliance. Engage in activities that foster your personal growth and happiness independent of your partner. Check out this blog for a primer on how to rebuild your self-esteem and self-acceptance. Therapy or support groups can also offer guidance and accountability as you navigate this journey. Click here to schedule a free consultation if you’re interested in learning more about therapy.


Can a Codependent Relationship Be Saved?

Yes, with mutual recognition of the issues and a commitment to change, a codependent relationship can transition into a healthier, more balanced partnership. Both individuals must be willing to work on themselves, communicate openly, and respect each other’s boundaries and needs. Ultimately it’s up to you and your partner. Ask yourselves: is this relationship worth the hard work that may be needed to improve it?


Towards A More Fulfilling Relationship

It can be difficult coming to terms with the fact you have codependent tendencies. The good news is: your relationships can be better. Without the honesty necessary to recognize these patterns, they can never improve. You are now in a place where you can learn about yourself, grow, and find more satisfaction in every relationship. You just have to do the work. Remember, it’s okay to seek help, and doing so is a step toward healing and growth for both you and your loved ones.



Robb Kornoelje is the owner of The Truism Center, a relationship enthusiast, and the creator of the “30-Day Relationship Challenge.” This 30-day, fully online email course offers gentle guidance to identify behaviors causing trouble, find ease with emotions, and enhance self-awareness. With a focus on stress-free communication, the challenge encourages a stronger connection with others, nurturing compassion, and fostering forgiveness. Join Robb on this journey to improve the fabric of your relationships—one day at a time.