Codependency is one of the most common issues that people have to deal with in their personal lives and relationships. It can creep in and undermine the foundation of a relationship, it can make it very difficult for a person to feel fulfilled and truly happy, and it can even hinder a person from successfully getting back together with the one they love.
Today, I want to write an in-depth article on what you can do to overcome codependency once and for all. Whether you’re struggling with it in your current relationship, you’re realizing that it is keeping you from restoring a relationship with an ex, or you know that codependency has been a general theme in your love life, I have all the tips and tools you need to be aware of.
Once you can incorporate everything I am about to go over with you in this article, you will see a shift, and you will set yourself up for longterm success. I know how common this issue is.
In the beginning of a relationship, you feel great, you’ve got your own thing going on, you’re confident, and then little by little, your happiness depends on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s presence. You start to feel that you cannot be happy without your partner and then you realize that there are stakes.
What many people don’t realize is that the more a person feels like there are stakes, the easier it is to fall into codependency. So let’s take a look at how to make sure that it doesn’t cause problems in your life ever again!
What is codependency exactly?
Codependency can be defined as a person who experiences “excessive or psychological reliance on a significant other, and is unable to find a sense of peace and happiness without him/her.” In extreme cases, a codependent person will be unable to live or curate a fulfilling life without their significant other.
In other words, the more a person depends on their partner for their happiness, the more codependent they are.
Very often, this phenomenon is something that often shows up later on down the line in a relationship. A person might feel perfectly happy in their own life at the beginning of the relationship, only to find that little by little, elements of codependency start to surface. When this happens, you start to feel uneasy and needy.
The issue is that it’s making you unhappy, needy and dissatisfied, but at the same time, it also has an effect on the dynamic between you and your significant other.
You stop being yourself, you need more attention and more reassurance, and you can start to exhibit behavior that makes your partner feel suffocated. Without meaning to do so, you end up pushing your partner further away. This creates a negative spiral where you need more reassurance, and they need more space.
Many people in this situation don’t realize that they’re acting like this and they don’t try to find solutions to help them figure out how to stop being codependent.
Then it becomes very challenging for them to understand why the dynamic has changed so much in their relationship, it makes them panic even more because their significant other keeps pulling away, and it makes them act out in ways that make them appear needy and clingy – which of course makes their partner want to pull even further away.
As you can see, It turns into a downward spiral.
So let’s cut right to the chase. What are the biggest signs that you are codependent?
– You feel like you need your significant other’s help and presence in almost every aspect of your life
– You rely on him or her for completely basic/daily tasks?
– You are anxious whenever you are not together, even if they have given you no reason to be uneasy
– You tend to wait around for your significant other to live your life
– You feel anxious when your partner is doing something that doesn’t involve you
We need to make sure that your relationship is protected from these types of elements because they can undermine the foundation very quickly. Your partner can get fed up, things can become very unbalanced, and you can end up damaging your bond without even realizing it.
Your partner can wind up feeling smothered and unable to please you, they could end up seeking space from you, and they could end up losing interest because things begin to feel heavy and draining.
A lot of people ask me if it’s possible to overcome codependency because it had become such a common theme in their lives. Many people also feel that once they’ve fallen into codependency, that there is no way that they’ll ever get out. After working with tens of thousands of men and women all over the world who were struggling with codependency,
I can confidently tell you that you CAN conquer it. It all just depends on the work you’re willing to put in. It is not the type of thing that you can magically fix from one day to the next, but if you give it some time and effort, you will be able to develop a new way of operating.
You’ll be able to free yourself from codependency and allow your relationship with yourself, with your current partner, or the one that you want to be with again thrive!
Let’s look at my client Laurie’s story. He was deeply codependent on her boyfriend, and she depended on him for everything. As their relationship developed, he did everything for her, and they wound up creating an unhealthy dynamic.
She did not do the work to maintain her personal life, and he operated in a way that made it easy for her to lose track of her own life.
This case was interesting because the codependency was fueled by both parties, and it caused problems in the relationship. She depended on her boyfriend for literally everything. She would wait around at home for him, doing nothing, feeling anxious that he wasn’t around.
She wouldn’t go out of the house and explore the city they moved to unless he was doing it with her. She needed him to check in every hour… Long story short, Laurie didn’t have anything going on in her own life and everything revolved around her relationship with her boyfriend, Jonathan.
All of her happiness depended on it, so as you can imagine, it created a pretty big shift in their dynamic. Fortunately, she recognized the problem and came to us for some help. As we worked together, we were able to dive deeper into the root of the problem.
Yes, Jonathan was someone who bent over backward to provide support and attention to his partner, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but there was also the fact that Laurie came from a family dynamic in which she was not taught independence.
As her relationship with Jonathan developed, on a subconscious level, it felt perfectly natural for her to lose sight of her personal life and begin to depend on him for all of her happiness.
Unfortunately, it created tension and a general sense of unease in the relationship. After working together for about three months, we started to see a huge shift in the dynamic between her and Jonathan. I’ll go over the tools I taught her with you in a moment, but what I want you to realize is that you are in control of more than you might realize.
Laurie’s relationship with her boyfriend is more solid than ever before, and she told me that she’s so happy she made the choice to reach out for some help. An objective, third party can help put things into perspective and offer solutions that can have a longterm effect.
If you are also interested in working with me or a member of my team, all you have to do is click here.
Overcoming codependency: The first steps
The first thing we need to take into consideration is where the codependency is coming from. It can come from your upbringing, if, for example, you saw one parent depend on the other for absolutely everything, or if your parents showered you in so much love and support that there was no room left for your own sense of independence to go.
This is a very interesting concept because love and support are so incredibly important in family dynamics, but there are situations in which it can lead a person to be codependent in their future, romantic relationships. When they are not taught to cultivate and nurture their sense of independence and their personal lives, it can give rise to codependent relationships.
If you are unsure of where your codependent tendencies stem from, I highly recommend reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. It is some very powerful insight that can help you recognize where it’s coming from and how it manifests in your life. In it, you will also find some powerful tools for overcoming codependency forever!
Now, another thing that I have noticed over the years as a love and relationship coach working with people who were codependent, is that they actually aren’t as busy in their lives as they could be. There are so many things that a person can do to improve their quality of life and boost their sense of inner happiness, and this brings us the very first piece of advice I have for you:
If you are codependent on your significant other, it means that you are struggling with a lack of confidence. The more you need another person in order to feel happy, the more we need to work on your sense of self confidence, and confidence comes from a sense of accomplishment. Simply put, the more things you do, the better you feel!
The better you feel about yourself and what you’re doing, the better you feel about your life, and the better you feel about your relationship! So if you really want to overcome codependency, you have to start by becoming more secure with yourself. The best way to do this is to challenge yourself to do things on a regular basis that make you proud to be who you are! Put yourself in situations where you can really shine. Think about your talents and seek situations/jobs/projects out where you can use them!
If you’re sensing codependency symptoms in yourself, think about what kind of things you’ve been wanting to accomplish – both big and small. It can be anything from changing your hair to going back to school! Set goals for yourself that you are confident that you can achieve, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
These should be short-term, medium-term, and long term goals. One exercise I like to give my clients is to have them set a goal of where they’d like to be two years from now. Let’s say we’re thinking of a job or a position at your current company. In order to reach your goal of where you would like to be two years from now, where would you need to be one year from now?
To reach your goal one year from now, where would you need to be 6 months from now? 2 months from now? So, what can you start working on accomplishing this week to reach your goal of where you would like to be 2 months from now? This way you start working towards your objectives step by step, and before you know it, you start accomplishing big things. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” These things take time, but the best time to start is right now!
So, make sure you fill up your schedule with activities and people that add value to your life and not only will you start to feel that you’re overcoming codependency, you will begin to witness a positive shift in your relationship. You’ll feel more satisfied with your life, you’ll be busier (and you’ll have less time and space for anxious thoughts in your mind), and your significant other’s interest in you is going to be sparked.
Think about how many things you will have to share with him or her, you’ll be giving them the opportunity to miss you, and you’re going to be feeling much less insecure and codependent. Remember, the more secure you feel within yourself, the easier it is to beat codependency.
Relationships are meant to be fun and exciting – they’re supposed to be an addition to your life. They aren’t meant to be the only thing that matters, the center of your universe, or something that you cannot live without. If you approach relationships with a codependent mindset and allow yourself to “need” it, you’re setting yourself up in a trap. Again, it will change the dynamic between you and the person you love and the relationship will suffer. So let’s dive deeper, shall we?
“What do we both want for our futures, and do these things align?”
You might be shocked to learn how many people turn a blind eye to this extremely important question because they just want to get married. It is crucial to note that not ensuring that both of you are working towards the same goals can cause serious problems later on in your relationship, and this is one of the main culprits behind the staggering number of divorces that we see in our society. So, make sure you think about where you want to live, whether or not you’ll want children one day, whether or not you’ll both be working…
Codependent behavior can be overcome by focusing on what you can control
When you’re struggling with codependency, it can feel very challenging to get in control of your emotions. In working with so many people in this type of situation, another thing that I’ve come to notice is that codependency also has a lot to do with your environment. There are in fact various aspects of your life that you can change that will help you fight codependency.
One example is removing people who have a negative influence on you from your life. We often underestimate the effect that other people can have on us and don’t realize it until we stop spending time with them. Maybe you’ve noticed this in a previous relationship with someone that wasn’t making you happy? Everything becomes clearer in hindsight. There’s that expression… “My hindsight is 20/20.”
If you know that there are people in your social circle that regularly do things that make you feel insecure and small, make the choice to spend time with other people instead. Spend time with people that life you up, inspire you, and encourage you. Don’t surround yourself with anything or anyone that undermines your personal sense of wellbeing. This little action can do wonders for how you feel in your relationship with your significant other.
And this can and should be applied to social media as well. Platforms like Instagram are famous for people presenting unrealistic depictions of themselves and their lives, and it creates an atmosphere of jealousy or of personal insecurity. And as we went over above, the worse you feel about yourself and what you bring to the table, the easier it is to be codependent on your significant other. I encourage you to therefore go through your social media accounts and remove anyone that makes you feel inferior in any way!
Fight codependency symptoms with positive emotions
I know that title might seem vague, but let me explain. We, as human beings we have a terrible habit of fixating on negative things, shortcomings, and insecurities. Have you ever noticed how negative memories seem to stand out say more clearly in our minds than positive ones? This is one of the things that often leads to seeking and needing reassurance from your significant other.
That is why it is so important to make a conscious effort to focus on the positives. The more you do this, the more of a habit it will become. So the next time you start to feel codependent and anxious, choose a memory about your relationship that brings you joy. Counter every negative thought with a positive one and you can start to train your brain to stop spiraling negatively. Focus on the things that you can control, cultivate gratitude, and take it day by day.
Celebrate small victories. It’s easy to celebrate the big things, but by training your mind to be aware of ALL the good things going on around you, you will improve your mood and your approach to your relationship. Another great way to relieve stress and mental tension is through physical exercise. Starting tomorrow, I encourage you to do one simple thing: Go out for a run! I am not just talking about a light jog…
I am talking about going on a rug that leaves you sweating and your heart rate racing. This is how you’re going to begin expelling negative emotions while increasing your endorphins. Sometimes we use the term “Your emotional reservoir,” because it fills up with stagnant, negative thoughts that need to be poured out. On top of releasing these emotions, it’s going to boost your self confidence because you will be doing something that you know benefits you, and you will start to see some physical improvements as well. The more you sweat, the more physical and emotional toxins your body and mind release.
Socializing will help fight codependency
When you’re experiencing codependent tendencies, you’re fixating on your partner, wanting to be with them, and receive reassurance. Here is a simple trick. The more you fill up your schedule, the easier it is to keep your mind occupied and safe from anxious thoughts. Get yourself out there and challenge yourself to become more social. Spend more time with friends, check out new bars and restaurants, and be open to making more friends.
Here’s a simple exercise that will help you to come out of your shell and interact with more people on a daily basis. Give every single person you come across in your day a compliment. It can be the cashier at Starbucks, it could be your assistant, it could be the mailman, anyone! By giving compliments, you’re giving positive energy and that’s exactly what will come back to you.
Little by little, you will start to feel better and more confident. On top of that, the more you socialize, the more gratifying your personal life will become and you will start to feel less dependent on your partner for your happiness. This is a very easy way to make your sense of self confidence and independence grow.
Codependent personality: Changing your frame of mind
Many people don’t realize that we can control everything that goes on in our minds. It just depends on your focus and will to do so!
At this point, if you’ve been struggling with codependency you probably have a little voice in your head that’s been telling you that you aren’t enough, that you aren’t confident enough, maybe even that you don’t deserve your current significant other or your ex… It is now time to change what that voice in your head is telling you. From this moment on, your mission is to repeat to yourself that you deserve the best. You need to be thinking positive thoughts about yourself and you can practice beginning your day with positive affirmations.
Repeat to yourself that you can have success in your professional life, you can meet more people, you can make more friends, you can be confident, you can love yourself, you can be happy… Reprogramming the way you think and reinforcing positive thoughts is essential when it comes to overcoming codependency. There is actually a science to this, called Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Speaking of mindset, there is another very important concept to bear in mind here. When I see codependent people, I often notice that there is a sense of ownership in their relationship. In other words, they feel that they own their partner. You don’t need to “own” the one you love in order to be truly happy. Trying to control another person (whether you realize you’re doing it or not) is not going to benefit your relationship and the dynamic between you. You’ve got to bring happiness into your own life, so start thinking about how exactly you can bring it into your life in the next weeks.
Coach Alex, my colleague, has a great exercise that he often gives to his clients. Just take a piece of paper and write down ten things that you can do over the course of the next ten weeks that will make YOU happy. Basically, you have to have a new activity each week. Some ideas are taking a dance class, getting a deep tissue massage, hiking, yoga, boxing, getting new art supplies, rollerblading on the beach, etc. New activities equal new emotions, and you will be able to begin proposing a new relationship to the one you love.
These things need to be incorporated into your life on a daily basis if you want to experience a real change.
Now, I’d like to go even deeper and talk about what kind of approach will bring back an ex after your codependency undermined the relationship. Even if you’re still actively in a relationship with the one you love, these tips and tools will benefit you.
Emotional dependency: What to do when you were codependent on an ex that you want back
As we start to explore the realm of codependency in relation to getting an ex back, I want to share some coaching examples with you. In both of these cases, the person’s behavior lead to a breakup, and we worked together to put the pieces back together in a way that would set the relationship up for long-term success. In other words, we needed to lay out an entirely new foundation.
Let’s take a look at what happened with Sandy and Peter, and then Caroline and Joshua.
Sandy and Peter had been together for about three years, and throughout the course of their relationship, they become codependent on each other. As you can imagine, it gave rise to a negative spiral. When we started working together, she gave me an example of one of their evenings, explaining that this was a common sequence of events.
That night, Sandy wanted to go out with some friends that she hadn’t seen in a very long time. Over time, she had developed a habit of opting to stay in with him every night, and it wasn’t until later in our coaching sessions that she realized that she was doing this because she was seeking reassurance that he still loved her as much as he did before. She was dealing with a general sense of insecurity in herself and in the relationship, which, as we have established, is closely linked to codependent behavior. Interestingly enough, it turned out that she was in a codependent relationship where both people were codependent on the other.
So, she was finally going to spend some time with her close friends, but then Peter said, “Oh, okay. Well, I guess you don’t want to hang out with me even though I’ll be alone. You wanna be with your friends. Go, it’s ok. I’ll be fine.”
Well, surprise surprise, this made her feel terrible. In the end, she agreed to stay in. He felt insecure about her hanging out with people other than him, even if it was just her best friends, and wasn’t going out of his way to do things on his own or with his friends that would be fun. He had guilt-tripped her into staying with him because he couldn’t be happy without her, and she was giving in because she felt codependent on him as well. Things were becoming very unbalanced and manipulation was starting to creep into their relationship. To make it worse that night, Sandy was craving some CPK that night. She picked up some dinner for them, but it turned out that Peter wanted to eat something different for dinner.
What happened next was very interesting. Sandy ended up going back out and getting the food he wanted to eat so that he would be happy (or in other words, so he would stop making her feel guilty). As we discussed these situations in our sessions, she started to think about how she used to give him so much of herself in the past, and often felt guilty for trying to do things for herself. You see, neither of them was feeling confident in themselves, and they were draining each other at the same time. All of these details lead to a breakup, and we needed to target the lack of self confidence in order to repair the relationship. But more on that in a moment…
Then there was the story of Caroline and Joshua. They had been together for eight months and they lived about four hours away from each other by car. They were in a long distance relationship, and Caroline finally decided to move in with Joshua in his town, and for a while, they were both over the moon. They were in their little bubble, creating their new home together and settling in. Within the next few months, they began spending more time with Joshua’s friends, checking out the bars and restaurants he enjoyed, and spending a lot of time with his family. It was all fun until it started to feel like a bit of a weight. Little by little, Joshua began to realize that he was dealing with codependency from Caroline. He had invited her to live come with him, and he was doing everything in his power to make her feel at home, but deep down he began recognizing the fact that she depended on him for everything. In other words, she wasn’t building a life of her own and was losing sight of her sense of independence.
This started to foster a feeling of suffocation and even resentment in Joshua, because he didn’t know how to make Caroline want to develop a personal life as well. He was struggling with communication on their relationship. Things started to go downhill from that point on. He started to pull further and further away until one day he actually pulled the plug on the relationship and broke up with Caroline because he realized that he needed his independence back. Caroline reached out to us for one on one coaching, and over time, we successfully got the two of them back together by teaching her to stop being codependent.
Very often, codependency (in various forms) is exactly what makes two people break up. Whether this is why you and your ex broke up or not, you’re feeling like you’re dependent on your ex, and you’ve understood that you now need to learn how to stop codependency on your ex. Hats off to you because you’re on the right track! It isn’t an easy thing to recognize, and it’s also an uncomfortable thing to admit to yourself. But the truth is that the moment you understand what is going on, the easier it becomes to pinpoint the solutions.
Getting rid of codependency and getting your ex back
As I explained above, the key is to get busy and fill up your schedule with people and activities that add value and joy to your life. It’s up to you to prove to yourself that you can make yourself happy, and that your happiness does not depend on your ex. The truth is, if your ex recognizes that you are actively working on becoming the new and improved version of the person they fell in love with in the first place, you will become irresistible in their eyes.
For added effect, I encourage you to use one of our most powerful techniques for getting an ex back like the No Contact Rule, which consists of cutting contact for a predetermined period of time. It usually ranges from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on your relationship. The goal of this is to create an electroshock in your ex while giving you the opportunity to really become the 2.0 version of yourself that you’re proud of. For more information on how to use the no contact tool and how to make your ex want you back as a result of it, just click the link! For more information on that I encourage you to get in touch with us for a one on one coaching session.
We need to make sure that you take your focus off of your ex and put it on yourself. Some things to think about are any hobbies or passions that you lost track of as your relationship developed. It is incredibly common to lose track of important elements of our personal lives as we become fully invested in a relationship, and more often than not, we don’t even realize it’s happening. And yes, hobbies are important because they’re yours, they take you out of your daily routine, and they make YOU happy.
I also want you to think about how much physical exercise you’re getting. Could you be doing more? Then get it to it! Make it fun – sign up for dance classes or rock climbing. Boosting your self confidence is one of the most important things you should be doing right now, so please don’t underestimate it. The more active you are, the more your sense of self-confidence and well-being will increase.
On top of that the more you physically exert yourself, the more endorphins you release and the more energy you create. So, the better you feel, the easier it becomes for you to get busy and start working on removing codependency from your life once and for all. Keep in mind that there is not ONE magic solution that makes a person conquer codependency. You have to combine multiple elements like self-care, a busier schedule, more physical activity, more time for your personal and professional projects, more time spent with people that lift you up…
When dealing with codependency, you have to build yourself back up. One of the hardest parts of all of this is undoing the pattern you’ve unwittingly created. It may have developed because of something traumatic that happened in the past, or perhaps it’s related to other insecurities, but if you want to be happy in the future and if you want your ex back, you have to restore your confidence in yourself!
Your ex needs to recognize the 2.0 version of the person they fell in love with. Somewhere down the line the two of you disconnected and codependency damaged the bond between you. So we need to look at how things were before that happened. Think about what your life was like when your partner started falling for you. How was your life different at that point? Now would be the time to bring back the positive elements that used to exist in your life before codependency and insecurity started taking up space in the relationship.
Simultaneously, they need to realize that you have taken them off of the pedestal. One of the most common mistakes I see when a person is trying to get an ex back is trying to prove to the ex in question how much they love them. Truth be told, this just makes it easy for their ex to take them for granted and to feel that they’re still 100% codependent.
That is why the no contact rule is so powerful. Not only does it show your ex that they are not the center of your universe, it makes them realize that you do not need them in order to be happy and that you are taking control of your life. On top of that, if you are able to make concrete improvements in your life, they’ll come to understand that you are now living a life that they would be a fool to not want to be a part of!
Working with your partner when you see codependent relationship signs
If you’re currently in a relationship or are planning on getting back together with the one you love after you broke up because of codependency, keep in mind that teamwork is a huge part of this. If you are in an active relationship and you are struggling with codependency, you have to communicate with your partner. Open up about the insecurities that make you feel jealous in a calm and collected way.
This needs to be a productive conversation so that your significant other can understand what they can do to make you feel more at ease in the relationship. Make sure you avoid going into this conversation in attack mode where you list out every single thing that your partner is doing wrong. Instead, tell him or her what kind of actions and behaviors make you feel good and secure in the relationship, and then tell them where there is room for improvement. If there are specific things that he or she is doing that are making you feel this way, they need to know so that they can make changes.
Dealing with jealousy is considerably easier when you and your significant other are on the same page. For example, if you feel insecure when your boyfriend or girlfriend is out doing something without you, a simple fix would be him or her agreeing to text you every few hours when they’re out with just their friends. With time, you can ease up on the frequency of these “checking-in” texts. Work together to figure out what would help you the most.
As I said above, you’re in control of filing up your schedule with things that make you feel more confident, but your partner has an important role in making you feel secure in the relationship as well.
Following in line with my previous point, it’s so important that you have independent interests. If you depend on your significant other for happiness and a life that feels fulfilling, then you’re doing yourself a disservice and are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
You should both have your own things going on. Think about your passions, your hobbies, your work, your friends and family. A healthy relationship consists of two people with independently fulfilling lives coming together. It’s not the whole “two halves make a whole” thing. Neither of you should be “half” of a person.
So take some time to think about what gives you purpose and explore these parts of your life! Purpose is what brings a sense of fulfillment to our lives and makes us feel “whole” and happy. You can also think about doing volunteer work!
One of the most gratifying things that you can do is lift another person who needs a helping hand. I highly encourage you to incorporate this into your daily life and not only will you feel a positive shift in your mood, but you’ll also be making the world a better place.
Say goodbye to codependency forever
Whether you want to free your current relationship from codependency or you want to conquer it and get back together with the one you love, you are in control of more than you might realize. You’ve just got to zero in on the root of the issue, whether it’s stemming from this relationship, a past one, or another element in your life, and start to lay out a new foundation. Some of the biggest tools that we went over in this article are:
- Filling up your schedule with people and activities that bring you joy
- Becoming more physically active
- Putting yourself in situations where you know you can shine
- Giving yourself personal and professional goals to work towards
- Volunteer work
These are crucial elements whether you’re single or not! Becoming emotionally self-reliant and happy goes far beyond that and depends on your attitude. Only you and your ability to take control of your life will be able to make a difference. No one else can do the work for you. The people who have the courage to take action will overcome these obstacles and succeed in becoming emotionally independent.
Don’t underestimate the psychological aspect… If you want to move forward, you have to do some serious introspection. You have to be ready to hear things that you might not want to hear. You’ll need to be motivated and focused, and you have to understand that this is not going to be fixed overnight. You are going to attain true peace and joy if you define a complete action plan that will make it easy for you to find and share happiness! That is why setting goals is so important.
In order to no longer suffer from codependency, you are going to have to work on the way you see yourself from a social and physical point of view. You have to have activities in your life that make you feel attractive, useful, and loved. You have to be proactive because nothing will change if you just hang out, moping around at home.
When you start to feel different about yourself, you’re going to start feeling different in your relationships. Not depending on your current partner or on ex for happiness can reinforce your bond and make your relationship considerably better than ever before.
We are always here to help so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can guide you from A to Z through this challenging period! Please don’t hesitate to download our brand new program on Insecurity. It is designed to give you a concrete action plan that will free you from this frustrating cycle once and for all!
Wishing you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you’re looking for codependency help