21 Signs of Codependency

Codependency is a behavioural or emotional condition that affects a person’s ability to achieve a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship with the other person. These 21 Signs of Codependency may help you to see if you or a loved one still suffer from codependency. This term Codependency is most commonly and historically used to describe relationships with people who are struggling with personality disorders, food and emotional issues and substance abuse and are relying on another person for food, money, shelter, or emotional security. These relationships are dysfunctional by nature and harmful to both parties within the relationship. Co-dependence is a disease of immaturity oftentimes caused by childhood trauma.

Codependency is a circular relationship in which one person needs the other person, who in turn, needs to be needed. The codependent person, known as ‘the giver,’ feels worthless unless they are needed by — and making sacrifices for — the enabler, otherwise known as ‘the taker.’


Our notions about how to live life come from our connection with caregivers.  Abandonment experiences leave children with the message of worthlessness, as well as with a distorted sense of how to care appropriately for themselves.  When a child’s natural characteristics are not nurtured, the child develops dysfunctional coping behaviours that illustrate the five primary adult symptoms of co-dependence.  Abandoning and abusive behaviours develop because the caregivers did not give appropriate help to their children with regards to life’s basic issues regarding self-nurture and healthy interpersonal relating skills. Codependency is something we all suffer from to one degree or another. Look for the similarities within yourself rather than the differences. Mark L Lockwood says that “We are doomed to be codependent in the first half of life because dependence and trauma are both natural stages of our development in varying degrees. If you are unable to overcome the core issues of codependency by early adulthood you are likely to develop stronger symptoms later on and thus experience harsher consequences for yourself and your relationships.”

Here are 21 Signs of Codependency

  • My good feelings about who I am stem from being loved by you
  • My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you
  • Your struggle affects my serenity
  • My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain
  • My mental attention is focused on protecting you
  • My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems
  • My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain
  • My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies
  • Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me
  • Your behaviour is dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.
  • I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel
  • I am not aware of what I want – I ask what you want
  • I am not aware – I assume
  • The dreams I have for my future are linked to you
  • My fear of your anger determines what I say or do
  • I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship
  • My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.
  • I put my values aside in order to connect with you
  • I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own
  • The quality of my life is in direct relation to the quality of yours.
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“Ever since people first existed, they have been doing all the things we label “codependent.” They have worried themselves sick about other people. They have tried to help in ways that didn’t help. They have said yes when they meant no. They have tried to make other people see things their way. They have bent over backwards avoiding hurting people’s feelings and, in so doing, have hurt themselves. They have been afraid to trust their feelings. They have believed lies and then felt betrayed. They have wanted to get even and punish others. They have felt so angry they wanted to kill. They have struggled for their rights while other people said they didn’t have any. They have worn sackcloth because they didn’t believe they deserved silk.”

― Melody Beattie, Codependent No More

For more information about the 21 Signs of Codependency or to find out about our Wellness Center programs please visit our website or email sanctuaryplett@gmail.com

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