The Signs and Symptoms of Codependency in a Relationship

Codependency in a relationship is an important topic that deserves to be discussed. It can be difficult to identify whether or not you’re in a codependent relationship, and often people don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Codependency in a relationship can affect the dynamics of any relationship, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial. At its core, codependency is characterized by an unhealthy reliance on another person to satisfy one’s emotional needs. In many cases, this type of dynamic can lead to negative behaviors such as manipulation or control.

Today, we’ll explore what codependency looks like in relationships, where it comes from, how to recognize it, and how to end a codependent relationship. 

What Is Codependency in a Relationship?

Codependency refers to an unhealthy, one-sided relationship in which one person relies heavily on the other for emotional support and validation.

This often leads to an unequal partnership where one person becomes the caretaker or enabler while the other takes advantage of their kindness. It can occur in any type of relationship, whether it be romantic, family, or even work-related.

In a codependent relationship, there’s usually a lack of boundaries between both parties, leading to feelings of resentment and frustration. The codependent partner may feel obligated to meet all the needs of their significant other, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness or well-being. What’s more, both partners can develop an unhealthy attachment style that promotes dependency rather than independence.

The good news is that recognizing the signs of codependency in your relationship is the first step toward healing and change. It isn’t always easy to recognize because it can be mistaken for love or caring.

9 Signs You’re in a Codependent Relationship

Do you feel like your entire life revolves around someone else? If so, it’s possible that you are in a codependent relationship. Even if you don’t recognize it, there are telltale signs to look out for.

1. Afraid to Say “No” to Your Partner

Afraid to Say “No” to Your Partner

Do you feel like you can’t say no to your partner, even when it’s not in your best interest? In that case, you might be in a codependent relationship.

This is one of the signs that you’re in a codependent relationship if you’re afraid to say no to your partner. You may feel guilty or anxious about setting boundaries or saying “no” because you worry that your partner will become upset with you. This fear of upsetting your partner can lead to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, as though your happiness depends entirely on theirs.

2. Depend on Your Partner to Feel Okay

Have you ever felt like your happiness is solely dependent on the actions of your partner? Does it feel like their mood sets the tone for yours?

In a codependent relationship, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes you happy because all focus is directed toward satisfying your partner’s needs first. You may find yourself making excuses for their behavior or ignoring red flags because confronting them could lead to conflict or abandonment.

3. Unable to Make Decisions Without Partner’s Input

Are you constantly seeking your partner’s validation and approval for everything you do? If so, it’s also a sign that you’re in a codependent relationship. According to Gottman, asking your partner’s opinion is fine to move on. And it is also a good practice to feel happier and healthier in a relationship. But if you can’t make a decision without their input, it is not good to go.

One of the key signs of codependency is the inability to make decisions without your partner’s input. This could be anything from what movie to watch or where to go out for dinner to major life decisions like where to live or what career path to pursue.

In a healthy relationship, both partners should have an equal say in decision-making and respect each other’s opinions. However, if one partner consistently defers to the other and relies on them for all directions in life, it may be time to examine whether this dynamic is truly serving both people.

4. You Feel Anxious When You Don’t Hear From Your Partner

You Feel Anxious When You Don’t Hear From Your Partner

One of the biggest signs of being in a codependent relationship is feeling anxious when you don’t hear from your partner. You might find yourself obsessively checking your phone or constantly refreshing your social media to see if they’ve messaged or called. This kind of behavior indicates that your emotional well-being is linked to their actions, which is not healthy.

Codependency can be difficult to recognize because it often presents itself as love or caring for another person. However, it’s important to remember that true love should never make you feel like you’re losing yourself or sacrificing too much.

5. Poor Self-Esteem

If you are in a relationship where you feel like your self-esteem is taking a hit, If so, it’s important to take note of the signs that might indicate you’re in a codependent relationship. Poor self-esteem is one such sign, and here’s what to look out for. When someone puts their partner’s needs first and neglects their own, they are essentially telling themselves that they are not important or worthy enough to prioritize their own well-being.

Another sign of poor self-esteem in a codependent relationship is feeling like you have to change who you are in order to please your partner. You may feel like they hold all the power and that being yourself just isn’t good enough for them.

Codependency can manifest in many different ways when it comes to self-esteem issues. For example, if someone has low self-esteem, they may feel like they don’t deserve anything better than a partner who takes advantage of them or treats them poorly. They may also struggle with setting boundaries because they fear rejection or abandonment. It’s important to recognize these patterns and seek professional help if necessary.

6. You Have Trouble Being Alone

You may feel anxious or even panicky at the thought of spending time by yourself. You might also find yourself always seeking out activities that involve other people, even if they don’t necessarily interest you. This can lead to sacrificing your own needs and desires just to keep someone else happy, which can ultimately damage both yourself and the relationship.

7. Do Everything Together

When you first start dating someone, it’s common to have your own separate hobbies, interests, and friends. You may spend time with your partner, but you also enjoy spending time alone or with others. However, when a relationship becomes codependent, this dynamic changes.

If you rely solely on each other for entertainment and companionship, you are in a codependent relationship. You no longer have any desire to spend time apart or try new things without the other person. This can be problematic because it creates an unhealthy level of dependence on one another.

8. Feel Responsible for Their Actions

Do you often find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior or lack of action? Do you feel guilty or ashamed when talking to family and friends about the state of your relationship? If so, these may be signs that you’re in a codependent relationship.

If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, constantly trying to please them or avoid conflict, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate the dynamic of your relationship. Remember that healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and communication – not guilt and shame.

9. Their Behavior Gets Worse When You Set Boundaries

Their Behavior Gets Worse When You Set Boundaries

If you’ve attempted to communicate and resolve some issues by setting up healthy boundaries in your relationship, but your partner’s behavior escalates or grows worse, then it may be a sign that you’re in a codependent relationship.

How to Solve Codependency?

Codependency is a complex situation that can affect individuals, couples, and families. It can cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to difficult relationships and situations. If you’re struggling with codependency, it may feel like there’s no way out. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to break free from the cycle of codependency and put yourself on the path to a healthier life.

1. Resolving Conflict

The first step in resolving conflict is identifying the root causes of codependency. Often, it stems from childhood experiences or past traumas that have left one partner feeling insecure or anxious about their worthiness in a relationship. Once these underlying issues are acknowledged and addressed, both partners can work together to establish healthier communication patterns.

2. Communicating Effectively

One of the most effective ways to tackle codependency is by improving your communication skills. When you can communicate effectively, you’ll find it much easier to establish healthy boundaries and assert your needs without feeling guilty or ashamed.

The first step in communicating effectively is to learn how to listen actively. This means paying close attention to what others are saying and trying to understand their perspective without judgment or interruption. It also involves asking questions for clarification and repeating back what you’ve heard to ensure that you’ve understood correctly.

Once you’ve mastered active listening, the next step is learning how to express yourself clearly and assertively. This means being honest about your feelings and needs while avoiding blaming or attacking language.

3. Seeking Professional Help

Once you recognize codependency in a relationship, seeking professional help is the next logical step. With the help of a therapist, you can learn healthy communication skills and develop strategies for setting boundaries.

In addition to counseling, practicing effective communication can help break the cycle of codependency. There are many qualified therapists who specialize in treating codependency, and they can work with you to develop a plan for overcoming your patterns of behavior.

In therapy sessions focused on codependency, you’ll learn ways to set healthy boundaries and establish a strong sense of self-worth. You’ll also explore the underlying emotional issues that contribute to codependent behavior and how to address them effectively.


Codependency in a relationship can be extremely damaging and destructive. It can lead to feelings of resentment, unhappiness, and anger from both parties. If you or your partner are exhibiting any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in this article, it is important to seek help from a professional as soon as possible.

With the right kind of support, guidance, and therapy, couples can break free from the cycle of codependency and start to build healthier relationships with one another.

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