How to Tell If You Are in a Co-Dependent Relationship

Updated on September 14, 2017
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Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.

Have you ever wondered if you depend on your partner too much? Or have you worried that your partner is too needy sometimes? Are these the signs of a co-dependent relationship? Read on to find out.

Being in a co-dependent relationship can isolate you from others.

People who are in co-dependent relationships often feel isolated from their friends and family.
People who are in co-dependent relationships often feel isolated from their friends and family.

The need to please other people all the time can be exhausting. It can put a strain on intimate relationships and hinder personal growth and development. Being in a co-dependent relationship is not a relationship based on mutual respect and equality. A co-dependent marriage isn't based on a foundation of "true love." It's based in fear, self-doubt and insecurity.

Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment
Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment
This book is an an eye-opening, yet gentle and compassionate read for anyone wanting to know more about building healthy relationships. After reading this book, I was able to gain insights into how my own past and present relationships were functioning and what I could do to make them better.

Are you in a co-dependent relationship?

In their book Conscious Loving, The Journey to Co-Commitment, authors Gay Hendricks, Ph.D and Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D explain that “The drive for approval, and to avoid disapproval, dominates the relationships of co-dependents.”

Here are seven signs that someone may be in a co-dependent relationship:

1. Co-dependent people feel a strong need to help others overcome their bad habits and/or improve their lives. No matter how hard the co-dependent person tries, the people around them just won’t change their bad habits!

2. People who are co-dependent try to fix things that aren’t really their fault. They take responsibility for things that aren’t their problem. Co-dependent personality types often want to take care of other people’s feelings. They have a strong desire to make other people feel better if they’re in a bad mood because somehow they think that they’re the cause of the other person’s bad mood.

3. People who are co-dependent are often afraid that their deepest doubts, fears and secrets will be revealed.

4. Co-dependents tend to suppress what they are really feeling. They have a hard time acknowledging and expressing their emotions. For example, if they are angry about something, they tend to avoid talking about it because they are afraid of creating conflict in their relationships.

5. People who are co-dependent often feel self-conscious. They tend to judge themselves harshly without any reasonable proof for their self-judgement. In fact, they often don’t believe the praise and compliments that other people give them.

6. When a disagreement occurs, a co-dependent person will often try to end the argument by apologizing quickly, taking responsibility for something that wasn’t their fault or promising to be the one who makes the change in the relationship.

7. People who are in a co-dependent relationship tend to end up agreeing to things that they don’t really want to do. They often have trouble asserting themselves.

What I found most interesting about these points about co-dependent relationships is that they can also show up in short-term relationships and encounters as co-dependent behaviors. For example, regarding point # 7 about people in co-dependent relationships always agreeing with the other person, have you ever found yourself agreeing with people whose opinions and actions don't even really matter in your life? For example, do you agree with your casual acquaintances or co-workers all the time rather than clearly expressing what you believe about an issue? See if you can notice any co-dependent type behaviors in interactions you have with others on a casual day-to-day basis.

Are you ready to take the co-dependency quiz?

Few things can make us feel crazier than expecting something from someone who has nothing to give.

Melody Beattie

— Melody Beattie, author of 'Co-Dependent No More'
Being in a co-dependent relationship can lead to low self-esteem.
Being in a co-dependent relationship can lead to low self-esteem. | Source
People in Healthy Relationships:
People in Unhealthy Relationships:
Feel secure, loved and worthy
Feel insecure, neglected and worthless
Have confidence in their decision-making abilities
Rely on their spouses or partners to provide advice
Are able to communciate their needs clearly
Have a hard time expressing themselves
Are not afraid to disagree with their partners
Often try to avoid confict with their spouse at all costs
Can celebrate each others successes
Fear that their partner will abandon them if something better comes along
Do you know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship?
What would your life look like if you could break free from a co-dependent relationship?
What would your life look like if you could break free from a co-dependent relationship?

© 2013 Sadie Holloway


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