What is a codependent relationship?

Are you feeling like you rely too heavily on your significant other for validation and security? Do you feel like the relationship is one-sided, with all of the responsibilities falling onto you? This article will let you know if you are trapped in a codependent relationship.

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Being in love means having someone to face life’s most significant challenges with. But since there is no rule regarding how much support we can give, people can be abusive and non-reciprocating, so codependent relationships form.

Do you think you might be in a codependent relationship? It’s hard to tell, as codependency looks different for everyone. This article is a guide in recognizing if you’re in one.

While there is yet to be a definite pattern on how people should make a relationship work, understanding what it is could be your first step. Read our in-depth guide to learn about the different types of relationships and attachment styles.

Defining codependent relationships

Defining codependent relationships

A codependent relationship is a toxic relationship that is mentally and emotionally abusive. Although it can appear subtle, tolerating it is damaging for people involved. All the things you need to know about toxic relationships are discussed in our guide.

Codependent relationships are characterized by a lack of boundaries, neediness, controlling behavior, and a tendency to sacrifice one’s own needs. It occurs in romantic relationships but also within families or friendships. It’s a dangerous relationship dynamic, resulting in guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

This type of relationship leads to an unhealthy cycle of clinging and controlling behavior that  prevents individuals from growing and being self-aware.


10 signs that you might be in a codependent relationship

10 signs that you might be in a codependent relationship

Spotting codependent relationships is hard because we all need and depend on each other. But if you think you might be in one, recognizing what’s happening and understanding why it’s damaging is key for your mental health.

1. Dropping everything to accommodate their needs. 

One clear sign that you’re in a codependent relationship is if you consider your partner’s needs more important than yours. Look out if you’re constantly cancelling plans or leaving things undone to help with something they could do alone.

2. You feel too responsible for your loved one

In a codependent relationship, one partner is overly responsible while the other is irresponsible and dependent. This happens when your partner becomes too reliant and can’t function without you.

3. There is no reciprocation

Do you always give more than you receive? This behavior is a significant sign of codependency.

Trying to save the relationship by giving so much time, energy, and attention to someone who doesn’t give it back will only drain you. It’s time to stop crossing rivers for people who wouldn’t even jump puddles for you.

4. You have a hard time making decisions on your own

The inability to make decisions alone signifies codependency because you think they always know what’s best. Since you always seek their validation, it is hard to decide without their opinion.

Although the opinion of your partner can be helpful, deciding on your own can help you grow and be more self-aware.

5. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around them

Do you feel like in your relationship is no room for mistakes? A sign of codependency is if you’re afraid that doing something wrong will disturb their peace.

You cannot do what you want because you feel pressured to be perfect around them.

6. It’s hard for you to say no

A codependent mindset can’t refuse their partner’s wishes. One red flag is feeling like you must cater to their needs, even when you don’t want to.

You don’t want to disappoint your partner so you will agree to everything even though your mind, spirit, and body says no. You have a hard time setting boundaries between your and your partner’s wants.

7. It’s hard to communicate about how you feel

Pleasing others comes with putting your own feelings aside. You might be in a codependent relationship if you don’t talk about your inner well-being because you don’t want to hurt them.

Feeling unvalued or unloved in this type of relationship might be easier than voicing out because you believe your emotions are invalid.

8. Losing your sense of self

Sacrificing your preferences just to match your partner is codependency. Do you try to act and think the same way? Do you base your mood on how the other person feels? Then you might be in a codependent relationship.

9. You have to make a lot of effort to be loved

The “to-do list” for your partner never ends. With codependency, your partner may ask many things of you only to make you feel loved.

Love should be easy and unconditional. Unfortunately, it’s not the same for codependent relationships where one loves due to the benefit that their partner gives.

10. You make excuses for your partner’s problematic behavior

In a codependent relationship, you always try to justify your partner’s words or actions, even if they aren’t right. You constantly attempt to convince yourself that they love you even when they’re showing the opposite.

With these ten clear signs in mind, take a step back and analyze your relationship. If you think that you might be in a codependent partnership, it’s time to decide: do you stay in the relationship or do you walk away?

Author picture of Janet Smith
Dating Expert

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a freelance writer who writes about psychology, relationships, and dating. She has always been interested in understanding the human brain and how it affects our …

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