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Signs of Emotionally Co-dependent Relationships

07 February 2022

It's not easy to identify the signs of an emotionally co-dependent relationship. Usually, such relationships are poisoned and shaded with several factors, including skewed judgment and heightened emotions. Moreover, a co-dependent person has an extreme desire to avoid rejection or please others.

The situation becomes even more complicated with one of the individuals suffering from substance use disorder. Thus, substance use disorder mixed with co-dependency complicates the situation. To avoid misery from being trapped in this feeling, it is necessary to recognize the signs of a co-dependent relationship on time. But before discussing that let's jump into what co-dependency is?

What is Co-dependency?

Co-dependency, also known as relationship addiction, is a behavioural and emotional condition in which a person needs the other person, who in turn needs to be needed too. Oftentimes, it is one-sided but emotionally damages both the involved parties. The concept was actually used to study the family dynamics of alcoholics; however, anyone can be affected.

A co-dependent individual relies on his/her loved ones for validation of the sense of self-worth. Such individuals often feel helpless and powerless and are terrified of abandonment and rejection. Remember, such relationships are detrimental to both parties involved. Unacknowledged fears and unclear motives shared by the co-dependent individual may lead to overly self-centred and controlling behaviours.

To cope with the chaos in their families, most addicted individuals often use unhealthy behaviours such as co-dependency. Keep in mind if you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned below, go for professional treatment. Here are some of the signs of emotionally co-dependent relationships:

Poor Self-esteem:

A person in a co-dependent relationship has very low self-esteem. Whatever a person does, they need another person's approval or needs to please them. To validate the needs and meet the material needs, one person is dependent on the other, which leads to low self-esteem. The dependent person feels highly insecure about being left by another person and oftentimes controls the other.

Pleasing People:

Well! There is obviously nothing bad in wanting people to like you, and we all wish happiness for our loved ones. But, remember there is a difference between pleasing people all the time and such normal tendencies. Co-dependent individuals always feel they have no choice but to keep pleasing other people. Even if interfering substantially with their own needs and wants, they don't say 'No".

Poor communication:

It's quite hard to communicate effectively for a co-dependent mindset. Such a person is frequently unaware of his/her own needs and wants, and when aware of them, they show reluctance in expressing. They feel like caring for the other person is the most important thing and fear upsetting them. This means a co-dependent individual dishonestly communicates with others and believes more in maintaining control than actually communicating. Remember, proper and honest communication is an effective way of building stronger bonds.


Remember, dependency is actually half of the co-dependency. We all need others for something. A person can meet their material needs through dependency. But, remember that is a limit for everything. A co-dependent person will depend on others for almost everything, and it proves tough for them to make critical decisions.

Lacking a Self-image

Co-dependent individuals spend most of their time pleasing others. They have very low self-esteem and have no self-image of their own. Such people are always busy maintaining relationships with others while paying no attention to who they are. Lacking a self-image makes them even more dependent on the other person. This is even one of the signs of untrustworthy leaders that you must know.

Lack of Boundaries:

Individuals in a co-dependent relationship tend to have issues with recognizing, reinforcing, and respecting boundaries. By creating boundaries, you simply respect the other person's autonomy and right to their own feelings. Furthermore, it indicates that another person's happiness is not entirely dependent on you.

However, problems arise in co-dependent relationships when one person doesn't insist on boundaries while the other one doesn't recognize them. Thus, one person fails to assert his/her own will while the other is manipulative and controlling. Thus, setting and maintaining boundaries is one of the vital skills to learn in any relationship.

Stress in Relationships:

As expected, any of the mentioned factors can put extra stress on any relationship. You create problems by not communicating and respecting the other person's boundaries. The caregiver feels stressed about being left alone, while the caretaker does everything perfectly. Although there may not be fights as one person is committed to keeping others happy, it may create tension in their relationship. Thus, a person must know how to deal with stress to safeguard any relationship.

Sacrifice Everything

A co-dependent person sacrifices everything while taking care of other people's needs. Such individuals put their partners first instead of putting themselves. This ultimately leads to harsh consequences on a co-dependent.

For instance, if a co-dependent person has a drug addict life partner, he/she will sacrifice everything to fix the latter's problems. Both the parties are affected severely by this extremely detrimental situation.


Love and comfort are normal, depending on your friends and family for support. But there is a balance between each partner's ability to enjoy mutual help and independence. If the balance sloughs off, things will get messy. So, pay requests to other person's space, and build your self-image by enhancing self-esteem. Don't be a person who tries to please everyone at one time. That way, both the parties will cherish each other's presence and support at tough times.