Emotional Dependency


Codependency or Codependence is a tendency to behave in ways that negatively impacts one’s relationships and quality of life. This behavior may characterized by denial, low self-esteem, compliance, and/or control patterns. Partners and family of people who suffer from serious illnesses like depression or addictions such as alcohol abuse have a high risk of codependency.

Denial Patterns:

  • I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
  • I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
  • I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others.

Low Self Esteem Patterns:

  • I have difficulty making decisions.
  • I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never “good enough.”
  • I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
  • I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
  • I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
  • I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

Compliance Patterns:

  • I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.
  • I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
  • I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
  • I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
  • I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
  • I accept sex when I want love.

Control Patterns:

  • I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
  • I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think and how they “truly” feel.
  • I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
  • I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
  • I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
  • I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
  • I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.

For recovery some may choose support groups, others behavioral psychotherapy, sometimes accompanied by chemical therapy for accompanying depression. Support groups for codependency, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) and Al-Anon/AlateenCelebrate RecoveryNar-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA), which are based on the twelve-step program model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Although the term codependency originated outside of twelve-step groups, it is now a common concept in many of them.


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