About Codependency
An Introduction to Codependence
with an Inventory of Codependent/Codependency behaviors
It is not unhealthy to need someone, or to want to feel loved;          
it is unhealthy to "give yourself up" to fulfil that need.
Codependendent behaviour is pattern that is a result of circumstances in the past. These can be overcome,
and new behaviours learned - see "
The Awakening".

Codependent (codependency) is a condition where people lose sight of the true meaning of
caring & sharing (where others ridicule, put-down real and destroy real caring & sharing.

  • Codependency results either from fear, or from previously learned reactions in dysfunctional
    home environments. Codependent people often were the children who took on the Fixer/Rescuer   
    role in their childhoods.

  • It can be a learned behavior, it can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an
    emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually
    satisfying relationship. It is NOT a disease - either way, it is a learned behaviour. And anything that
    has been learned, can be 'unlearned'!
  • Codependent behavior is passed on and learned by others through watching and imitating other
    family members who display this type of behavior - often there is already a tendency to dependence
    -   see Dependent Personality.

Determining whether you are codependent or not, is a matter of assessing the degree of "balance" that
either exists or is absent - to determine whether all the giving is one-sided, or if there is a mutual, back-
and-forth giving-taking, helping situation.

Being Codependent (Codependency) refers to:
  • doing things for others (all the time) - with it being expected - instead of helping others learn how to
    do it for themselves - or to insist on them doing it for themselves.

  • the person who "tip-toes" around the sick (dysfunctional or addicted person) to avoid angering or
    upsetting the “sickperson (there may be more than one codependent in a family).

  • A person who gives up his/her own wants, needs, likes etc., in order to “keep the peace”, and to  
    avoid upsetting someone with a major behaviour problem (such as anger / violence).
  • Being Codependent means taking-on the responsibility for someone else's happiness. and doing
    whatever is necessary to keep the peace - to make the other person feel good.
  • Being Codependent means to wrongly blame oneself for the other person's unhappiness or condition
    or state.
  • It is about having a dysfunctional relationship with self!
  • It is also known as (or referred to as) "the relationship addiction” because Codependent people often
    form, or maintain, relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.
The patterns of codependency can emerge from any family system where the open/direct and
hidden/indirect rules close its members off from the outside world.

Family systems like these discourage healthy communication of issues and feelings between themselves,
which destroys the family members' ability to trust themselves and to trust another in an intimate

This freezes family members into unnatural roles, which makes constructive change difficult.

Rules that encourage the unnatural patterns of relating in these codependent family systems include:
  • Don't talk about problems
  • Don't express feelings openly or honestly
  • Communicate indirectly, through acting out or sulking, or via another family member
  • Have unrealistic expectations about what the Dependent will do for you
  • Don't be selfish, think of the other person first
  • Don't take your parents as an example, because it's a "do as I say, not as I do" environment
  • Don't have fun
  • Don't rock the boat, keep the status quo
  • Don't talk about sex
  • Don't challenge your parent's religious beliefs or these family rules

These are all based on the dysfunctional family's taboos:
Don't Trust, Don't Feel, Don't Touch, Don't Talk.

Later in life these are carried over into other intimate relationships - thus continuing and perpetuating the
Codependency also means "being controlled"

  • Codependence is like a huge blood sucker which starts sucking you dry; slowly at first.

  • Frequently it begins by being in a codependent relationship, and often does so for all the 'right'
    reasons. People who are loving, kind, caring, considerate of others and compassionate slowly slip  
    into 'victimhood'.

  • They want to be of help to the wounded (dysfunctional) person. So initially they try to let certain
    things go, hoping that their patience and kindness will help facilitate change.

  • Before long, however, they discover that change is not happening, and the only thing they have   
    really accomplished is to enable the dysfunctional behaviour even more. By then, it is usually too    
    late to backtrack - and they are trapped into an endless cycle of codependence - good intentions   
    gone bad.

Codependent as enabler . . .
What the literature mostly doesn't mention, is that codependency enables the other person to remain in
denial about their addiction, anti-social or dysfunctional behaviour. They will have no reason to change,
since there won't be a 'crash', because the enabler(s) continue to provide a constant safety net.

In a very real way, both get 'enslaved' to maintaining the charade.
More definitions of Codependent behaviour:

  • Codependency is "an emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of  
    an individual's prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules - rules which prevent
    the open expression of feeling as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal  
    problems." -Subby, Co-Dependency: And Intimate Relationships (Norelco Box).

  • "Those self-defeating, learned behaviors or character defects that result in a diminished capacity to
    initiate or to participate in loving relationships." -E. Larsen.

  • "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behaviors affect him or her, and who is
    obsessed with controlling the person's behavior." -M. Beattie, Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling
    Others and Start Caring for Yourself

  • The core matter of the definition lies in the codependent, not the other person; it is in the way the
    codependent lets other peoples' behaviors and feelings control them (the codependent).

  • A Codependent is a person, or persons, living with/in a relationship with a dysfunctional, or addicted

  • Codependency often happens with people in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals.
  • A codependent person is frequently someone from any dysfunctional family (The Everybody Loves
    Raymond TV series provides many perfect examples).

  • Codependency is a learned behavior that can be (and often is) passed down from one generation to
    another (socialization).
  • It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects your ability to have a healthy, mutually
    satisfying relationship.
Co-dependency is a “natural” (common), but dysfunctional coping (and survival) response to a dysfunctional
"sick" situation (family or relationship).

It is NOT a disease - it is a learned response!

And it is an important survival strategy.

However - after time has passed, it's character changes from being a survival strategy in a particular
circumstance - to seeing it as "
normal" - and that leads to the "sickness".

  • PLEASE NOTE: in many ways codependence traits and behaviours are a type of variation of "Adult
    Children Of Alcoholics / Dysfunction" behaviours in general.

It becomes ingrained as "normal", and those dysfunctional behaviours and patterns are carried-over into all
aspects and situations of life (hence the "
sickness" or dysfunction). Many Codependents are insecure.

Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront
them.  As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs (
Codependency affects spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers of a person afflicted
with alcohol
Because Co-dependency is such a mis-used label often given to behaviours that are not negative and
self-defeating, it is important to
learn what it is not, to do so, you must first learn what it "looks like" if
someone truly is codependent.

You may find it useful to also read Codependency

For a more rounded picture of "codependence", you have to understand what a dysfunctional
family/relationship is, because codependency emerges from that: see
Dysfunctional Family, Healthy Family,
Male-Female Equality & Compare Relationships.

In addition, also see: Givers Vs Takers, Assertiveness, Fear, Let Go of Fear.
and Freedom-I and Freedom-II.

For Behaviours, Other Traits & Characteristics Inventory see Traits
NOTE: This page, like most pages on the site, describes and explains behaviours and circumstances. They
can bring understanding, and while understanding by itself does not necessarily bring recovery:
it can bring a sense of relief.

Understanding is only the first step - it is not the recovery process itself!

The information on this page describes an 'extreme' of behaviour. Very few people ever display all of them.
Some of the behaviours listed here are actually ‘normal’ responses to certain events and situations. These
reactions usually subside and lose their power to disrupt life or create and maintain chaos. However, when
a person is deeply wounded they linger and contribute to dysfunction.

The good news is that although it seems difficult, anyone can dig down deep past set behaviours and
change their core responses.
Therefore, part of any healing journey is to reconnect with that child inside: the inner child. And   
although healing occurs in all those who actively engage in that journey
- there will always be remnants and memories.

Dysfunction too often is generational: it is passed on from one generation to another. The only way to
change it is to break that cycle. The best way to do so is to begin one's own recovery and healing, and
then focus on children in one's life.

This cannot be emphasized too much: I suggest you read
Prayer For The Children

In  reading the description on this page, if you "see" yourself in it, your first reaction might be of
overwhelming despair and hopelessness.
Please do not fall into that trap.

Take heart: there is Hope - all of this can not only be overcome, but turned around - often rather

First comes awareness and insight. Next comes acceptance of it and embracing it. After that comes   
taking fresh steps in new directions, followed by re-inventing and re-integration; that and the
consolidation stages are the longest - part of life's ongoing learning process.
The Codependency Triangle
There are three main players or roles in this dysfunctional
family system (or any codependent relationship system or
the Victim, the
Victim -- The Victim is characterized by feelings of
helplessness, self-pity, and blames others for their problems;  
in a family with   an addict, this is the addict.

Victims are characterized by a lot of
"poor me" and black-and-
white thinking.

You will hear them say such things as,
"Why do I always get
into trouble? Why am I always the blame? Everyone is against
me. Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. . . ."

The irony is that everyone in such a dysfunctional system
feels    the "victim". All of them feel disempowered. Children
and teens often take this role.
  • Rescuer -- Here we come to the dysfunctional role played by many parents: also referred to as an
    "enabler", these are the martyrs of the system, they are the sufferers.

  • They discount their own needs, always "sacrificing" for the other two players, especially the Victim. They
    use guilt to control others, avoid their own true feelings, and are usually overstressed.

  • Persecutor -- Finally, we come to the persecutor. S/he abuses others in the system, also uses guilt to
    control, as well as withdrawal and sulking, and often also uses drugs and alcohol.

In the codependent triangle:
All are codependent.
All feel a lack of personal power.

In a family system of more than three, you can have multiples of each of the three players. It is a dynamic
system. There is a lot of switching around of roles. The Rescuer can quickly take on a Persecutor role or a
Victim role, etc. Players may switch roles even in a short conversation or interaction.

Personal boundaries are unclear between the players (more about boundaries below).

For example, The Victim tries to get others in the Triangle to be responsible or rescue them.
The Rescuer thinks s/he is responsible for the Victim.
The Persecutor blames everyone else.
There is no clear sense of where each begins and ends, i.e. boundaries.

Each of the players tries to use the others to make them feel like a whole, complete person.
But, of course, it or they never do. They always feel something is missing, that they are not complete
(Triangle information gathered from the web)

Codependents 'Boundary Problems
  • Being sexual for your partner, not yourself.
  • Going against personal values or rights to please others.
  • Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.
  • Letting others direct your life.
  • Letting others describe your reality.
  • Letting others define you.
  • Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries
  • Inability to say no for fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • A weak sense of your own identity; you live to serve others.
  • Disempowered; others hold the power and make decisions for you consequentially you have no power
    or are responsible for your life
  • Inability to protect your physical and emotional space from intrusion.
  • Feeling responsible for other’s happiness and satisfaction to the point where you will sometimes rely   
    on your relationship to create that for you.
  • Sacrificing your plans, dreams, and goals in order to please others.
  • Taking responsibility for another’s feelings.
  • Inability to protect your physical and emotional space from intrusion.
  • Inability to say no for fear of rejection or abandonment.

Boundaries are one of the most critical components for establishing healthy relationships; but boundaries   
are also a common source of conflict and tension.
Start the recovery & healing starting steps today. Learn to be
Dependent NO MORE
As long as you keep thinking that it is not your fault (how you feel now); that
something else must change, you will continue to feel helpless and the victim, you
will be totally at the mercy of your environment.
No matter how much you despair of healing: recovery - healing and becoming a
true survivor is possible at any time.

"Each night I die to old habits and to negative thinking and actions
that do not serve me any more;
each morning I am resurrected into new life, again and again –
if I so
." (adapted from the Sanctuary's prayers).
Of all our infirmities,
the most savage is to despise our being.
-Michel de Montaigne
People who really want to heal,
will find a way;
those who aren't ready yet,
will find an
If you found this page helpful and know someone else who could benefit from it, please   
tell them.

If you are ready to make the change / transition to begin your spiritual or healing journey
(or have already begun) and want to do so in the company of others going in the same
direction, why not write or email me? I may be able to exchange or share experience for
mutual benefit and growth.

I sincerely hope that you take the
Less Travelled Road
and that it brings awakening  and healing to you.

Causes of Codependency: it is a learned response, and you can "unlearn" it.

In a dysfunctional family or relationship members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored  
or denied.

Underlying problems that result from this may include any of the following:
  • An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling.
  • The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental, or physical illness.

  • Codependency results either from fear, or from previously learned reactions in dysfunctional
    home environments. Codependent people often were the children who took on the Fixer/Rescue   role
    in their childhoods.

  • It can be a learned behavior, it can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an
    emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually
    satisfying relationship. It is NOT a disease - either way, it is a learned behaviour. And anything that
    has been learned, can be 'unlearned'!
The dictionary definition of codependence is, "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner,
typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction."

the things we need; and that chain needs us in return, to keep it intact; it is called inter-dependence - a We
are all reliant or dependent on others: there is a long chain of people involved with supplying us with
healthy relationship.the things we need; and that chain needs us in return, to keep it intact; it is called
inter-dependence - a

In our immediate environments we also rely or are dependent on those around us - as they are on us. In
balanced, fair and harmonious situations, that is healthy. It is when the balance tips and goes mostly one
way. Yet, it depends on the circumstances: with illnesses and infirmities for example, it is easier to accept
because it isn't intentional. With alcoholism or other addictions, or simply dysfunctional behaviour, it is
completely different. It is there, that codependency occurs.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman © 2007-2017

Questions and comments welcomed.