A Cure for Codependence

I’m amazed by how often codependence issues come up in my work with coaching clients – either I’m naturally attracting people who struggle with this way of being, or it’s a really widespread issue for so many women.  I suspect it’s a bit of both.  Almost every week, a new client says to me: “I’ve been struggling with my relationships with others my whole life, and I only just found out that there’s a name for my problem: they call it codependence.  Can you help me with this?”

The term codependence was created to describe the characteristic personality and behavior of spouses and family members of alcoholics and other addicts, but we know now that many people who haven’t been affected by alcohol or addictions have still somehow managed to develop this problematic way of being.  The defining characteristic?  A tendency to put the needs of others first, and neglect your own self and life (in a pathological way that is harmful to both others and yourself).

I’m Christian, and part of walking that out is by following Jesus’ teachings about “dying to self” and laying your life down for others. A codependent way of life comes from a different place and has a different spirit, so to speak. It’s often about manipulating others, or controlling outcomes, or trying to meet some kind of unhealthy need or desire in yourself.


Some of the “symptoms” of codependence include:

– Focusing on pleasing others, or doing what you think will get the most approval

– Excessive self-sacrificing or being the “martyr” for others (in a way that breeds resentment or pride)

– Controlling or manipulative behavior towards others, e.g. thinking you know what’s best for them, and insisting that they follow your advice (rather than focusing your attention on what needs to improve in your own character and life)

– Trying to prevent other people from experiencing emotional pain or the consequences of their own behavior

– Getting caught up in drama or crisis going on in the people or relationships around you, and focusing on that instead of your own character, health and responsibilities

– Repeatedly entering into relationships with people who are either emotionally unavailable or unusually emotionally needy

– Needing to be needed in order to feel like a worthwhile person

Some experts argue whether there’s really such a thing as codependence, or whether it’s just a trendy pop psychology label.  I can tell you from my own experience, and my work with clients, that this kind of mindset and behavior is a very real behavior.

I don’t have time or space here to go into great detail about how to heal from codependence (it does take time, lots of awareness, and consistent efforts; working through a structured 12-step program can help, such as the “Freedom Session” curriculum offered by many churches in my area).

Here, though, is a tip that can start to help you right away (after asking for help in prayer; seeking God’s help will always be my first advice in every situation):

Take your attention off other people, and what they’re doing (or should be doing or are not doing), and focus your attention on yourself, and what the next right step for you is.

In a classic example, if your husband is an alcoholic, and you’re afraid he’ll lose his job, let him be.  Let him lose his job, if that’s what might happen as a consequence of his excessive drinking.  You see, if you constantly protect your husband from the consequences of his actions (by phoning his employer and saying he’s sick, or by doing his work for him), he may never experience consequences severe enough to motivate him to seek help for his addiction.  By “helping” him, or “rescuing” him, you may actually be doing more harm than good, over the longterm.

If you find yourself terrified by “giving up control” or responsibility for the life of another person, the way to distract yourself, and heal yourself, is to replace your preoccupation with them by doing what you need to do for yourself.  Do an inventory of your own character and the changes you need to make in your behavior, attitudes and life. Make yourself something healthy to eat, go for a walk, call a friend, work on your taxes, tidy up that messy spare room that’s driving you crazy.  Whatever it is that you need to do to take care of you.

The best part is, when you start to look after yourself and stop nagging, or controlling, or rescuing everyone else, it takes pressure off the other person and often removes significant strain from the relationship. Often, the other person may respect you more, and treat you differently, and maybe even start implementing some of the changes you’ve been hoping for.

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  1. leslie says:

    I have struggled with the problem of trying to please and help everyone in my life. This is how I have attained affirmation. Now that I am trying hard not to do this I find myself being ignored, left out of activities and called many not so nice names. How do you go about reclaiming yourself without losing loved ones?

  2. Dr. Susan Biali says:

    Hi Leslie,
    I can totally relate to what you’re saying, as I’m sure many others can. Unfortunately, when people are used to you putting your own needs last, when you start taking care of yourself and saying no when you need to there will often be “push-back” from those who selfishly prefer the old you. Hang in there, keep loving them (and lovingly maintaining your new boundaries), they will usually come around. If a friend decides they no longer like you because you’re taking care of yourself, then sadly they’re not much of a friend…I wish you luck, hang in there!

  3. Frances says:

    I feel that I have been suffering codependency with my boyfriend for a long time. I feel this constant need to please him but I feel sad and neglected after when I don’t see him doing the same for me. We have been in a relationship for a year and a half now. We have been really close friends beforehand. I constantly think of what he is doing when we are not together and it consumes at least half of my day. On top of that, I get so scared whenever he does something new (like joining soccer or playing badminton with his new friends in medschool). I on the other hand don’t do anything but sit at home and wait for him to call or text or anything and I jump on any opportunity to be with him or do something for him. I’m scared that these things will drive us apart and I’ll be left with nothing. It’s been a constant fight between us because he thinks I am now just invading his personal life and that he feels like he is suffocating because I have to constantly know what he is doing. I’m scared that we will break up. Please help!

    • Cally says:

      I know exactly how you feel, I was the same way! It drove my boyfriend away. We were together for over two years and he was very patient but it inevitably drove him away because my happiness was entirely dependent upon him. I would recommend seeking some assistance ASAP, not trying to scare you, but if you’re fighting about it then it must be addressed if you want him to stay! I let myself get to the same point and its so so painful! You deserve a much fuller, happier life, and that means trusting in the relationship and letting it go (aka not trying to control it)! Try focusing on yourself more. I swear, the second I started doing this my ex noticed and about 5 weeks after told me I “seemed different, in a really good way”. Let yourself breath! You will never meet someone who will ease every worry and he shouldn’t have to! It’s not his job to make you happy, its your job. This is something I am still figuring out, but doing so (or trying to) is already improving the quality of my life.

  4. Rick says:

    I was in a dysfunctional marriage for 24 year and lost myself, got fat and had no self esteem. the ex broke it off and i was destroyed. i lost alot of weight due to emotional distress and began to feel better about myself but had lost my sense of purpose, the family. After about 1 1/2 years i became quickly involved with another woman. she had suffered rape by her father for years and said she had healed…i had suffered similar issues and physical abuse in my family. and had broken those cycles of abuse with my children. we moved in together and she began to excessively smoke pot. she had smoked at the beginning of the relationship and i was aware but it was not pervasive. i had used pot when i was 18-20 but quit when my family began so it did not bother me originally too much. I have begun to realize i am co-dependant in that i gain my self worth thru others and crave love/affection. She recently quit smoking pot cold turkey (for a month) and began sabotaging the relationship until i finally got angry and put my foot down. she used this opportunity to leave the relationship but couldnt move out for 6 weeks due to her financial issues. It was hell for me, i had an emotional breakdown, tried numerous things to get her to stay, get counselling together, etc. but she wouldn’t. she had put up her walls. now that she has moved out i began the cycle of not eating much and have lost lots of weight but realize i am very co-dependent. i want to fix this and have begun counselling but i am very confused. i understand she was both the addict and also co-dependant. i miss her terribly but am staying away/no contact while i heal. i feel i truly loved her, but am now unsure if i was just badly co-dependant. Also i want the brutal truth as to if you think given our past personal histories we could ever work into a healthy relationship? i bonded with her son and wanted so much for this to be a connected loving relationship but i gave away myself trying to make her my world. i want to wait for a little longer then see if we can reconnect. what are your thoughts?

  5. Sherry says:

    I am slowly learning that the co-dependancy and need for other’s approval in my life all boils down to my lack of self-esteem. I learned early that to get what I ‘need’ in life I have to please others (aka manipulate the situation) and it has been a very difficult road to learn knew ways of living healthy.

  6. Kenra says:

    Ive been in a relationship with my boyfriend going on four years. It seems to be getting impossible to even ask a simple question. I always just do what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. I always put him first before anyone, including my children. It seems that I’m always trying to do what my children want, when i see them, just like I do for my boyfriend. . I do this cause i dont want them to hate me or get mad at me. I now have a granddaughter and she is one years old. I don’t want her to grow up thinking that its ok to be like me in anyway. So please if you can help me. Desperatley needing to feel good. Thank you

  7. Mr N says:

    I been codependent for as long as I can remember !.. I’m in love to a beautiful super nice woman and I’m constantly afraid of what she’s doing in the time I don’t spend with her!! this is sick!!! I don’t have a life!!!.. I’m not even functional anymore!!!… what to do!! I’m scared!! sad, anxious stressed.. I need help to cope with this!!.. how do i get the strength to follow your advice about start taking care of myself??.. I need some serious help!!! I’m on a verge of getting emotional sick if I’m not now!!!… there steps to follow like minor steps at a time that I can take in order to gain emotional strength??…
    Please help me!! I’m desparate

  8. Kacey says:

    I was married for 12 years and since my divorce have been in two relationships. The first one I drove away d/t my needyness, and now I fear I’m doing it to the one I’m in. It’s been two years and he has been patient but now he is cancelling our plans often and I’m seeing a pattern emerge.
    I just want to be healthy, learn healthy ways to cope and figure this all out.

  9. Rachel says:

    I’m 23, divorced, and have two sons with my ex husband. I Am terribly Co-dependent! I have been since I was a child. I spent all my childhood competing to be the favorite of my mother, friends, teacher. My husband was also Co dependent he worshipped the ground I walked on but it want enough I needed AOL men to desire me and ask women to envy me.which they didn’t because I’m fat and unaccomplished, so I developed bad anxiety and depression. I am now engaged to a wonderful man and though I still fantasize about bring admired by all from time to time I have developed a different form of Co dependancy I an obsess with my fiance! He is indeed with me too. We are insane and can’t be apart for more than five minutes with out having a panic Attak. I even get sad when he goes to the bathroom. I list my job because I was unable to leave him.now he has a job he really likes and I soon every day when he leaves and I completely sit down when he’s gone. I just sit and wait and cry. I feel withdrawn from my children. I try not to let then see me. I’ve adopted eleven pets of various species. I don’t know what what tip do. I’m so jealous of his job. Every time he texts I get suck to my stomache. He is a very bad enabler and is almost equally as obsessed with me which makes it harder.

  10. Shannon says:

    I struggle with co dependency although I thought I was doing much better. The problem is that my husband works with a female co worker who appears very co dependant herself and she appears to rely on my husband a lot when it comes to her job. I am having a hard time dealing with another woman being dependant on my husband and was wondering is this just my own co dependency? Am I wrong in feeling resentful towards her and also my husband for enabling her to some extent? What do I need to do for myself?

  11. Dr. Susan Biali says:

    Hi Shannon, I’m sorry you’re facing this situation. It can be really hard. I understand that you don’t want to cause problems (good for you for asking if you might be the problem), but I think in general it is hard for most women if there is another woman at work who is overly dependent on or close to your husband. I would suggest seeing a qualified counselor to run the situation by him/her, to help see if there is a genuine concern about the workplace situation or if you’re over-reacting/over-controlling. Best of luck!

  12. Dr. Susan Biali says:

    Hi B,
    I would really encourage you to see someone (ideally a psychologist who understands potential personality disorders, codependence, etc.) to discuss your unique situation and answer those questions for you. As a psychology student, I’m sure you can appreciate the value of that time with a professional! I wish you all the best, Susan

  13. B says:

    Dear Dr Biali,
    For the last few years I have been in a troubled marriage. The serious problems started when my husband’s parents got involved in our relationship. Being a psychology student, following lots of reading, I hv no doubt at all that my father-in-law is a very serious case of NPD and my husband is his co-dependent. My parents-in-law were not happy with our marriage, and they hv left no stone unturned in creating conflicts and misunderstandings between me and my husband as well as him and my family. My husband shockingly seems hypnotised by them — even though he knows I hv been trying my best to maintain peace, he becomes devilish under their influence — ridiculously blaming me, insulting me and my family, and pressuring me to fall in line with hos parents’ wishes. I hv tried my best to prove my innocence, be patient with him and maintain peace
    But his parents influence seems increasing and I am scared because i sometimes see him mirroring his father’s feudal mindset and manipulating/controlling tactics. Things are turning more and more ugly and I am now reaching the end of patience since my husband is not showing any signs of improvement. He treats me like a doormat when influenced by his parents. Then he comes and apologises profusely and emotionally, but reverts to misbehaviour within a few hours/days/weeks……this has been going on for over 2.5 years, and I hv lost all trust in his assurances. He is also suffering from ‘stress disorder’ and is on anti-depressants for 4 years (since before our relationship problems started) — but he blames me for his bad health and supposedly suicidal thoughts….another one of the vicious seeds planted by his parents)
    Q.1) what is your view on this situation?
    Q.2) Can a codependent turn narcissistic with other people under pressure?
    Q.3) with your experience, do you think there is any hope for our marriage?
    Q.4) What are the ways to deal with AND treat such a codependent?

    • kim says:

      Hi…do you have a suitcase by chance? I would use it right now. Pack what you love…plan where your going…tell Mr wonderful “YOU” need a break…and dance out that door…clearing out all that suffering and trying on your part…frees space and time for you to now concentrate on the things you love! Xo to you
      I have learned…men respond to “distance” more than your words!
      So distance yourself from all of them…go see people who love you just the way you are….treat yourself to some ” alone” time…..all just loving suggestions….good luck

  14. nico says:

    After a lifetime of terrible relationships and low self esteem, I ended up marrying a charming man with many sociopathic traits. His serial cheating and blatant disrespect led me to rock bottom and unable to leave due to the children. After 3 years of this cycle of abuse from him, I researched and studied my own behaviors to find ways I could change. It basically came down to me being too emotional. (PLease don’t think I have disregarded him treating me badly, I wanted to change from the inside to change the outside) So I practised not reacting to little things in daily life, just to see them in a different way. Then I moved on to big things, like my spouse going away for the weekend. Instead of going insane with worry, I knew He would probably cheat if He got the chance, (who cares? I’m not staying with this guy forever.) And over time I retrained my emotions to lean on the easier side. This has reflected back to the people around me and they are seeking me out more including him (not that I really care about him, He will never change much) And things feel better which is attracting positive movements around me.
    At some stage I will be able to leave my husband and dont get me wrong, most of the time it’s quite a lovely relationship. But I deserve better than to have even been cheated on ONCE. So I ask what better way to learn emotional strength than this one? After this realtionship, I will be able to handle anything.

  15. kittyperth says:

    the more i read ,the more i realise ,this what i am like..at this very moment ,i am trying not to text my siblings !as i am the one who keeps our relationship going,not sometimes in a nice way but nagging them- which i now no is forced, not a real relationship!i can see myself doing it every time but am sadden that they don’t always respond to me,when i love them.i no i look crazy as i have a wonderful marriage and great kids of my own!why cant i stop????? 😕

  16. Sree says:

    Thank you! this helped

  17. Louise says:

    Hello my partner is an internet addict daily poem use, he’s sets up profiles on date sites he’s in chat rooms I think he’s a sex addict any form of social media and he’s on it talking to women, he’s also a cross dresser. I have be putting up with this behaviour for 6 year forgiving trying to get him help trying to save him I guess.he makes all the promises in the world. But never comes through. I think I an co-dependent. Why can I not leave a man with so many issues he does do many bad things to me yet I stay.he continually try’s to cheat or at least get thrills on the net he gives out his number to women but far as I know hasn’t cheated or met with them(far as I know that is).is the only answer to help myself leave him ??? I’ve tried to look for help for him but in adelaide South Australia only help available is the gats program it’s live in and is only for the rich meaning have to give up your job for short time to get help.i am starting to feel the only healthy option for myself is to leave him if I do this how do I cope after? Is there any other avenue to help us both without ending it ???????

  18. El says:

    Hello Susan,
    Thank you for giving us this space to answer your post;0)
    Here goes; I was an acute codependent, with both parents and all partners and people I fell (hard) in love with, narcissists. I despaired and ached and felt i was going insane many many times, fought a hard fight with great books and an even better therapist, clawed and struggled over years…
    And I made it out.
    I never ever imagined it was even possible, nor that i could, nor that i could find the peace i now experience, the centeredness, the focus. All those things are amazing to me every single day
    However, there is a detail that is becoming worrisome after 5 years – I can’t seem to fall in love. All my previous patterns and brain circuits got incinerated (and rightly so) but I can’t seem to find the way back to ‘Luv’. I have many friends, I love discovering people, I am fascinated or interested by many, engaged, stimulated, even attracted, softened, moved… etc. I have many passions, although I am quieter these days, much to appreciate in my life.
    But that ‘magic button’, if you will, seems to have gone with the bathwater.
    What do you think of my conundrum?

  19. charleen says:

    My husband suffers from depression, won’t take medecine, is co-dependent, we are now separated and I want to save our marriage. I cheated on him and he won’t forgive me.
    help! He has isolated himself from me.

  20. D says:

    Hi Susan, I strongly relate to your article and I am conscious of my problem for a very long time. I tried many times to do as you suggest and focus on my self but unfortunately every time I stop as I don’t know what I want anymore. I’m too used to wanting things ONLY because they please someone. My self worth is calculated by the number of approvals I get from others. This has kind of worked for me as people find me easy to work/be with but not for the right reasons….I now realize! Not sure how to try further

  21. Mary says:

    Please, I need help. I,ve seen someone for 4 months and we’ve become intimat. Ever since this I have become a nerotic. Have’nt been with someone for 13 years. Father recently passed. I feel embarrassed as my control issues are out of control, and I have not seen him for one month. He lives two doors away from me and I am afraid I cound do something drastic. helo

  22. Mary says:

    My daughter is 25 and extremely codendent to me in a demanding way. If I do not do what she demands me to do, like go to the store she will be loud and have a mean fit with grown up words but a child like behavio. She has no job and dropped out of school at 16. When I push her to get her GED or a job, she comes up with every excuse in the book. She complains often. I want to help her be indendent because I have six children younger than her that are climbing the steps in life and going forward. They hate listening to her yell and act out of control. When I tell her to act more rational or go somewhere else to live she then crys like a child. She argues with her siblings like a 6 year old. I want help for her but I do not know where to go. She hits herself or pretends she faints when she is upset for being told to do something instead of looking at herself and taking pictures of herself. I know that she needs some help but I really do not know how to make her get help because she is 25 and she thinks she needs no help. There is much verbal abuse from her to me. When I demand she stops, she yells loud and then says I am mean.

  23. Karin Fenn says:

    I had a break through today in my struggle with codependence. I lost a relationship and had a nervous breakdown in large part because of my codependence last year. I have worked really hard to understand what it is and how my behavior is codependent. Everything that I have thought of as being nice or being involved or sharing, I have come to realize is more than likely controlling behavior. I have suffered and caused everyone close to me to suffer because I have spent most of my life worrying about what other people think about me and how to change that rather than focusing on what I want. Today, I sent far too many texts to a boyfriend who has been distancing himself from me. I blamed him for being insensitive, but then through a series of articles and research realized that I have again been spending so much energy trying to fix something, worrying about our relationship, worrying about why he has not called, worrying about whether or not I will be abandoned…making everything personal….I was miserable and made him miserable which he was able to tell me. I saw clearly what I was doing, apologized and took responsibility for being selfish and asked his forgiveness. I am not sure if he will be able to forgive me nor chose to continue in a relation ship with me….the blessing is that I realized that my trauma and fear and upsetting behavior toward others comes because I do not worry about myself. I do not focus upon what I need to do what I want to do…working on my own feelings. I feels selfish right now….yet I have finally understood how badly I have behaved.

    My frustration is knowing that I will likely make mistakes again, and feeling like I am a fraud and untrustworthy because of it. I am committed to changing my thinking , my behavior, my interaction with others because I don’t want to hurt others and more importantly don’t want to be hurt anymore. yet I don’t know how to let someone know I am truly making every effort to change as fast as I can. I guess as I read this I have to relinquish control of their thoughts and belief and just say it do it and they then get to choose whether or not they believe it. Any perspective you might have about the falling down and getting back up aspect of changing this behavior would be appreciated. What is normal in terms of change and slipping up? If I slip up am I not working hard enough? :cry

  24. hj says:

    Hi there,
    Finding this post has come about during some serious soul searching and life realizations as of lately, but it almost feels reminiscent right now of the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” I am so in love with every ounce of my partner and have been enjoying a very fun, vibrant, life-changing relationship for the past 10 months. She has recently been experiencing some reoccurring mental health challenges of her own, to which my response has been an outpour and bombardment of support, contact, reminders of my love, etc etc. I have exhibited this same characteristic in the past, and have come to recognize it basically at sabotaging my relationships by hyper-focusing on the other person.

    Only this time around has it ever been pointed out to me by my partner as something I need to work on. Thus given my nerdy ways and reassurance in finding “proof” such as this to what is going on inside me, my research began, and now I’m here- completely identifying as a co-dependent person, and completely, completely wanting to transcend this barrier. While a part of me feels encouraged by the fact that there is a coined ‘term’ to the characteristics i’m displaying, I also feel paralyzed as how to move forward. I don’t want to be codependent in general, and I do not want to mess up the best love I’ve been exposed to in my life….but I thought I was being myself. I thought that making others happy truly did make myself happy. I thought I was self-confident with my choices, physical looks, and career decisions. I felt like the “compromises” or “sacrifices” I contributed to were things I genuinely felt okay to meet in the middle on, and not disregarding of my needs.

    My relationship has been pretty amazing thus far, but with this trigger as of late, I’ve become consumed with the thought that I am co-dependent, and could be doing things differently. But what? I thought I was respecting myself…until I started hyper concentrating on her….but why? I care and love her, but can’t seem to come up with an alternative. What tangible steps, mental mantras, or other words of advice does the internet world have for me? Research on the term identifies me, my feelings, my current highlighted mental state, and I don’t want to be co-dependent. Lol…is me posting this ask for thoughts and help being co-dependent as well?

  25. Allen Schroeder says:

    Dr. Biali,
    I saw your article online titled “A Cure for Codependency” and wanted to ask you something. Thank you in advance for your time. I just started a relationship with a wonderful, beautiful woman with four kids. However, her last two relationships ended with the guys cheating on her, the first one, her marriage of 19 years, and the second of one year. She mentioned she has codependency issues, but I didn’t think anything about it until I started falling in love with her and felt that she didn’t respond to me like I did to her. She claims that she really likes me, kisses me, etc. But I feel like she holds back so much of herself, or has intimacy issues (we don’t have sex until marriage) she says she adores me, but sometimes I can’t feel it. Help, is there something you can tell me about all this?

    A concerned boyfriend,

  26. Sara says:

    Hi Susan,
    For the first time in the 8 years I’ve been married to my husband, I realize I’m a codependent. My husband is an alcoholic and he’s had 5 DUI’s. We have two boys together, one is 7 and one is almost 2. After his 5th DUI he stopped drinking and started going to AA. He quit drinking and he was such a wonderful man. In the past year in a half, he’s started drinking again and it’s gotten worse. He doesn’t drive but his drinking is still an issue. It makes me sad because him and I are both very social people and have a lot of friends. I don’t know if i’m still in love with him….I’ve often thought of leaving him, but we don’t have a lot of money and I don’t know if I would be able to finacially take care of the boys on my own. I know if I did leave him, he would get worse and I wouldn’t know what to do for my sons. I know he wouldn’t be able to take care of himself let alone, help with the boys. Ugh, I just want to be happy again!!

  27. Tamara says:

    In fact I think Louise above is with my ex! Cross dressing, internet porn addict with narcissistic qualities – found out when I broke my leg and watched him in a different light.

    Moved on by myself, changed my life to study, lost weight, became healthy, then went back into another relationship with a porn addict. Three years into that I have just learnt from all my actions Im totally co-dependent, and have most likely been conveniantly ‘chosen’ by him. Trying to fix him but he doesnt want to be fixed. I have cancelled our wedding and seriously am at a cross road again. I just want to go live like a hermit to heal again. Im so upset by what I do I just can’t help it. I tend to hurt myself instead of getting rid of his computer and saying NO! Trying to see if he will stop me, but he doesnt. I feel so irrelevant. I need to change this now I know what Im doing.

  28. Lisa says:

    Yes I struggle In this area. Among other things. I have been in a relationship on and off for almost 20 years. I should have left years ago but I still hang on. Somedays I can’t stand him others I can’t be without him. I could name a million reasons to leave. But I can’t

  29. Tia says:

    Dear Dr. Biali,
    I am engaged to a wonderful person since few months. I love him and respect him. I belong to India, so you may understand that I talked to him first time after our engagement only. Its arranged. Wedding is due after 6-7 months so I have lots of time to get to know him. In the initial days I behaved with all the eagerness to know him, sometimes confused, sometimes happy and smtimes sad. But I was making efforts and then started expecting and doubting. Then I felt codependency towards him… as you described this word. Whenever he talked to me he would tell all the things he wants me to do and that he expects me to show care. I feel confused after that. There is no doubt I care about him and respect him but sometimes I don\’t say or do what he expects me do and then he gets furious. He shouted on me once or twice for being ignorant. He always tell me things like I am the one now responsible for his happiness. That makes me more confused and worried. I am a girl with little words to say but I do want to keep our relationship safe. Please suggest me what should I do.

  30. Kendra says:

    I just recently found out that I’m a codependent. I was in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable. I tried everything to keep him. I think maybe unconsciously I ended up pregnant too, in hopes that he would marry him.

    Fast forward, the baby is 8 months old. He abandoned me during the entire pregnancy. He denied it was his baby. When I repeatedly told him it was his. I looked pathetic I sent emails, numerous calls, stocked him on facebook, and tried to find out why he did not care. I even invited him to doctor appointments.

    But then towards the end of the pregnancy I gave up on trying to get him to care. I had the baby alone. I am happy for that experience It made me much stronger and realize that I can do anything I set my mind to.

    My codependency still lingers. I called him to tell him the baby was born. I guess once the baby was born he decided to “care” a bit. He comes around off and on. He is not that serious about being a father. I feel bad for my son because he does not have a full time daddy.

    I am slowly moving on. I’ve set very firm boundaries with him. I don’t hate him. But I realize that I can’t be in any kind of sexual relationship with him either. Too many strong feelings still exist.

    I hope I will be able to let go. Even through so much has happened. I still love him. I wish I did not. I’m sad thinking about that maybe I could have done things differently. If I had no been codependent I could have had a relationship with him. I was just not strong enough.

    I’m just trying to retrain myself and teach myself that I deserve to love myself. It’s really hard. And I keep thinking that I am losing something so great like this boyfriend.

  31. Unhealed wounds says:

    Good day….I am 45 year old woman who has been so desperately seeking love and approval since I was a very little girl. I know exactly where my co dependency started I have never been able to overcome it. This behaviour has found me in unhealthy relationships never giving up always trying to please my partner accepting nothing in return. My last relationship left me completely devastated and broken. My codependency cause me to become victim of a narcissist. The emotional abuse has left me sick, alone, scared, among many other sad lonely worthless feelings. I have cut my ties and am now trying so very hard to rebuild myself before I fall into the abyss of depression. I am very serious about being good to me and this is my second step. I hope you are able to help. Thank you.

  32. Bec says:

    I think I have become codependent on my case worker. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?

  33. jan says:

    Wow, seems like my life. At least you are recovering. I’m still lost in the mist of desperately wanting to maintain a relationship with a man who text flirted and had online relationships. He will keep a lie going until its right straight in his face then have a way of turning it on me. I have given him 100 plus percent of myself. So so sad. 3 yrs and counting. Please let me know exactly what you did to get to where you are now.

  34. Susan says:

    I’m also completely lost. I’m married and have been in a relationship with a married man for 12 years. He ended it twice and after he does all the things he wants to do with his wife he comes back crying and telling me how he messed up and loves me so much and can’t live without me. He’s a master liar and manipulator and I fall for his lines every time. I did everything for him. He’s an alcoholic and now in recovery which I talked him into doing. He left me again 2 days ago. Although I know it’s best that he do this alone, I can’t help but feel alone and saddened beyond words. I know what we were doing was wrong, I know there was never a future for us but you can’t help who you fall in love with. We were 2 lonely people who became friends and then lovers. I love him and would have done anything for him. We split up once before for 3 years and still I took him back. I’m mourning the loss of the man I loved and saddened by the realization he is someone who lies in just about everything that comes out of his mouth. A therapist once told me he is a classic narcissist. Although I know deep down inside this is for the best, I’m still hoping he will call and ask my forgiveness.

  35. Adrian says:

    My fiancé told me last night that he thinks I am codependent. I thought he was overreacting until I read this. I know that some of the things I do are over the top, I just didn’t realize that it was so bad. The clearest example I have of my problem is this: he works third shift, and often wakes up hours after I get out of work, but his wake up times are not consistent. Rather than living my own life while he sleeps, I literally wait around until he wakes up. I also need to be in almost constant contact with him, and get really sad if he doesn’t comply. If he’s awake, I want a text every two hours, and anytime that we go more than two days without seeing each other, I am a wreck, and I don’t mind complaining to him about it. How did this get so bad?

  36. Laurie says:

    My codependent behaviour stems back from childhood but became more noticible in my marriage. My husband being an addict. I can now say its taken some time but i am getting over the codependent behaviour by accepting people for who they are and understanding i can not fix or control others. I am separated from my husband and have turned the focus to myself. I struggle sometimes. But its a process of unlearning learned behaviours which become habitual.

  37. Melinda says:

    I am a codependent mother. My daughter suffers from depression (she is 16), when she was 4 months old she almost died because she got extremely ill on me. She is now a beautiful teenager, dealing with depression. Im a single mom and have a younger daughter and our lives revolve around my 16 yr old. I worry all the time about her I no longer have a life. If she is happy, we are happy, if she makes a mistake I tell her what to say, if she dates I tell her about who she dates. Im so over protective with her and so involved with her. Im afraid to lose her, or her making huge mistakes (like she has in the past) that could hurt her future. I get her out of all her mess. Im drained and cant continue to live like this. She is in counseling and stop taking her depression medication. I want a healthy, happy home. Please help!

  38. Sarah says:

    After reading this i am ashamed to see that I really am the reason my relationship is falling apart, and now I don’t know if it will ever be fixed. I suffocated my boyfriend without meaning to do so, and now I obsess about him, how he is… He broke up with me almost three months ago and I have been getting worse, I’m just sad and depressed all the time. Somewhere I lost who I was, and it wasn’t just this relationship, but it has been others. I’ve pushed him away, driven him away from me and I am afraid he may not want to try working this out, even if I am trying to change and fix my own problems now. I am desperately sad that I’ve donet his, and while I know it goes both ways, I see my behavior has been destructive in the extreme to us and I have been making him responsible for my happiness when that’s not his job, but mine. I am going to start seeing a counselor soon in a couple of weeks and hopefully I can get help for this, my anxiety, self esteem and a slew of other issues that I have developed over the years and get back on track. I hope he will forgive me and be patient with me, even if all we are is friends and nothing more. I am scared to lose him in my life for good because of what I have done.

  39. anonymous says:

    I have been codependent with female figures in my life ( usually teachers). I obsessively attach over people. My self esteem depends on the way they treat me. I am trying to find a solution for this..

    • Raven says:

      It is one of the worst habits to break..because we don’t know we are doing it..it it autonomous by the time we become adults. I wish you much strength..cause lucks got nothin to do with it.

  40. Jessica says:

    Reading this was hard, because the more I read about it the more I realized how codependent I am and I never knew other people had this problem too. My boyfriend & I have been on and off for a total of 5 years, last night when he decided to make a fool out of me by yelling at me and shoving me and telling me its over in front of lots of people at a theme park, i found myself crying at a picnic table, making myself sick wondering what i did wrong and how i could fix his attitude. This older lady noticed that I was upset and decided to tell me about how she used to be just like me, crying over a guy and feeling like you need him to be happy, then she also told me to read about being codependent, she told me after she got help it changed her life. I just feel so lost. I dont know what to do anymore and I just want to be happy and not have to have this constant worry in my head about what another person is doing. I feel maybe my anxiety and low self esteem could have been the problem with us but i just know i always tried to fix him and make us better and i would just hurt and lose myself in the process. I just want to be happy again..

  41. Dianne says:

    Hello, I have been in a relationship with my fiancee for the past seven years. I have four children from my previous marriage and he has four children too. Three of his are in their thirties live on their own and all have children. His youngest was 12 when we began dating and is now 19, and still lives with him. Ever since I can remember he has allowed her to run the show, giving her what ever she wants. Ie: she does not like me going out with her father so I was told after dating him for a year that I couldn’t go to a family wedding he had invited me to, because she didn’t want me there and he didn’t want to upset her. Ok, I didn’t go, now after seven years of trying not much has changed, she has accepted me and my children here and there, even became great friends with one of my kids. We helped her get a couple jobs when she turned 16, she has been fired from those and about ten other jobs she’s had since then. She is no longer friends with my son, they had a falling out and she punched him in the head leaving a nice scar on his temple. She takes advantage of everyone, expecting everyone to pay for everything she wants because her father always has and still does. He complains to me about how different she is compared to my kids who range in age from a 22 year old nursing student who has high honors, worked hard to achieve and maintain a full scholarship and has two jobs to pay for her car etc. A 20 year old that works full time and pays all his own bills, an 18 year old that’s in school works two jobs to pay her bills and a 15 year old that works weekends to pay for his cell phone. I try to tell him he has to stop doing everything for her because he is only going to hurt her more in the long run. I am a firm believer in the saying if you give a person a fish they will eat for a day, if you teach that person to fish they will eat for a life time. She has another job now and buys herself boots, clothes, etc instead of paying her bills. Her father is still paying her bills for the most part. He is overwhelmed, and full of anxiety. He doesn’t sleep or eat well any more and has lost weight. He complains about how she is and the choices she makes but keeps enabling her to continue. When I suggest he let her accept the consequences for her actions he gets defensive and yells at me. I have tried to stay completely out of their affairs asking him to speak to others when needing advice, but somehow he always ends up bringing it back to me. She again has decided she doesn’t want me or my children around, has even thrown pictures he has of all of us away. Here it is the holiday season and he and I can’t spend them together because he doesn’t want to upset her. I really don’t know what to do other than to walk away. Do you have any suggestions that I am obviously not seeing?

  42. Amy says:

    I began my current relationship in a very bad state of mind. It had been 1 year since my partner had died and I was emotionally distraught and in complete apathy. Meeting my current boyfriend gave me a new lust for life and a new reason to be alive and I’m now not sure if I am codependent or not. I have noticed some similar trates to what you describe and I see a lot of it in myself, such as the need to please everyone but myself. I now believe that I cannot live again alone or be single for the rest of my life. I try and tell them what’s best for them and stop them doing the partying thing that a usual 20 year old would be doing… (He’s now 29) and it upset me very much at first to see him destroying his lively hood like this But I can also allow myself to let them continue to do whatever he wants to do. He has a drug habit and would go missing for days on end, in which I didn’t want him to do this to himself. He has now developed a heart problem and again I don’t want to see the person I love self destruct so badly. Is this codependent?

    He is choosing terribly bad financial, health and relationship decisions and I just want to make a better life for us. But I know these feelings of not being able to leave him are also very unhealthy. I guess I’m just so very confused and I don’t know what to do with all this raw emotion. Help…

  43. I am for the first time attempting to fix my codepency issues. They have completely wrecked and deeply damaged what should have been a happy and fulfilling 29 years of life. I am first came to understand what was happening to me as I was stoned and sobbing uncontrollably on the shoulder of a man who had done some research into what codepency is. I loved him, but because of my issues I would show up unannounced at horrible hours of the night demanding to be let in and demanding that he pay attention to me. He was a very good man, and did not deserve my issues being dumped on his lap in this way. But still I was not ready to give up the high of helping others, to the point where my life and my real needs were going completely unfulfilled. I just last night had another moment of clarity, and relived the entire conversation I had with my ex. I have no life, I’m depressed to the point that I’ve developed a borderline eating disorder, and I have to change.

  44. Jeff says:

    I have a fiance that is depressed. We used to have an amazing relationship and she is struggling to balance life (work, kids, relationship). She tells me she loves me and wants to be happy with me, but so so many things that used to be there are no longer there. I do everything and anything I can to help make it easier for her and I’ve been told I’m codependent (by others not her). I don’t need her to be happy for me to be happy, but when she is down it’s very hard for me to be happy. I’m afraid that if I don’t pour everything into this she won’t get back to a good place. Any advice is so very much appreciated.

  45. Matt says:

    Thanks for this…I’ve recently just went through a job loss and my wife cheating on me. I’ve been doing a lot of introspection about myself as I had been extremely depressed during the time leading up to losing my job and probably my wife. In trying to figure out what was / is causing my depression and anxiety, I’ve realized that I’m a codependent. I was constantly, I mean constantly, trying to figure out what I could do for others so they would like me. Both at work and at home. I’ve always had this people pleasing attitude and am sure it stems from my Dad who worked hard but never showed any love. In fact, we used to say don’t bother Dad when he gets home. Just let him be. Anybody have things they’ve done to start to deal with this?

  46. Adrien says:

    Hi there,

    When my boyfriend (now ex) and I first met, I was head over heels for him. Everything was great, but then we moved in together. From that day forward, I felt my codependence kick in full force. I spent the rest of our relationship feeling very sad, alone and wanting out. I ended up leaving, but ever since have wondered if it could have just been my codependency making me unhappy, not the relationship itself. My ex is a wonderful man after all. Could this have been the case? Could I have falsely blamed the relationship when it was really just me all along?

  47. Vicki says:

    I am a Christian as well, but find myself really POURING out for others to help them through their trials. I do really care for others, but am realizing that I will especially “care” for certain people and find myself almost enmeshed with their problems, and them becoming enmeshed with me because of the gratefulness they have for me caring for them. Help! I want to care, and love people, but in a healthy way. Thanks for any input you might have.

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