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What are the Signs of a Codependent Person?

Codependency can be challenging for individuals and relationships. Here we evaluate the meaning, signs, and recovery measures for a codependent person.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is a mental, emotional, physical, and/or holistic reliance on a partner, friend, or family member who, in turn, demonstrates the desire to be continuously needed.[1]

Codependency goes beyond a feeling of attachment as we will soon find out (and instead broaches on infringement).

Signs of a Codependent Person

Codependency vs. Dependency

Codependency and dependency do not mean the same thing. Dependency is a healthy attribute of all social species, with humans topping the list. We need each other to survive and often rely on one person or the other to meet a physical or emotional need while doing the same for others. Codependency, however, is often one-sided, destructive, and dysfunctional. A codependent person would be willing to alter their natural behavior to accommodate the often unhealthy behavior of another. [2]

A codependent person may feel so much guilt about the problems or others and feel compelled to solve them at any cost.

Types of Codependent Relationships

There are various relationships from which codependency can stem. Examples include:

  • Destructive Parental Relationships: Growing up in a home with an unhealthy relationship among parents can make children become codependent in their own relationships if their partner or friend develops unhealthy habits such as violence or sexual abuse.
  • Living with a Mentally Ill or Physically Ill Person: Caring for and living with a critically ill person who needs regular help can make codependency set in.
  • Abusive Family Dynamics: People with a history of abusive family members are generally more susceptible to becoming codependent if they fall victim to abusive persons.

What Are The Signs of a Codependent Person?

Popular signs of codependency manifestations will be detailed below.

A Codependent Person’s Self-Esteem is Based on What They Do, Not Who They Are

A codependent person seeks validation and builds esteem based on what they do. Concerned persons often think they’re “good” only because they’re available to help. They may therefore feel depressed if their help is shunned or ineffective.

Codependent People Don’t Know What They Need or Want

Codependent people often don’t know what they want, mainly because they’ve never taken time to think about it as they’re too engrossed in making other people feel their impact.

Codependents Lose Themselves in Relationships

Self-love and codependency don’t go hand-in-hand. A codependent person would be too selfless to care about their emotional or physical needs. This is why most become lost in unhealthy relationships and lose the will to leave. The codependent would feel empty and guilty after leaving such a relationship.

Codependent People Can’t Say No or Set Boundaries

A common codependency issue is the inability to say no to requests from people even when such requests are dangerous, limiting, or draining. This also brings the inability to set boundaries against generally harmful requests.

Codependent People Attract Difficult People

Because of their unhealthy need to please, codependent people often end up with difficult people who lack empathy and use their victims' situations to their advantage.

Below are some other signs of codependency:

  • People who are codependent have a hard time letting go of people
  • Codependents tend to expect perfection in themselves and others

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency issues are typically triggered by certain events in a person’s life, such as:

Physical, Emotional, or Sexual Abuse

Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, especially reoccurring, can make an individual become codependent. Codependency also often occurs if the abuser is a known person, like a family member or close friend. 

Parents or Caregivers That Ignore a Child’s Needs In Favor of Their Own

If children grow up in an environment where their needs are often ignored while they’re compelled to meet the needs of others, they may become codependent.

A Caregiver With a Personality Disorder

A caregiver such as a parent with a personality disorder can also make a child become codependent. The child can become used to attending to the caregiver’s psychological needs to the detriment of their own needs.

Criticism and Bullying From Parents, Siblings, or Peers

Unhealthy criticisms create a need to always please, while bullying makes people willing to do anything to avoid being bullied. Over time, these can build a habit of codependency where affected persons leverage the unhealthy behaviors of others to do what they do.

How to Overcome Codependency

Codependency can be tricky to navigate, as it often is all-encompassing. However, overcoming codependency is vital to achieving and maintaining mental wellness. Tips to this process will be discussed below.


A good way to overcome codependency is to communicate with the right person. The dependent partner is usually not in a good position to help the situation in most cases. Therefore, it’s important that codependent persons communicate their situations to persons who are capable of helping them.


Enrolling in counseling with a therapist or counselor is an effective way to snap out of mild to medium levels of codependency. It may be necessary for both partners to be involved in such counseling unless the other partner is unwilling. [3]

Reconnect with Loved Ones

Reconnecting with loved ones or joining healthy groups where members discuss codependency subjects can be a good step in overcoming codependency.

Having a Hobby

Taking up healthy hobbies is an excellent way for codependent persons to derive fulfillment as they engage in productive activities.

Seek Support

It’s also important for codependent people to seek support from professional healthcare centers. Service providers at these centers have been trained to address issues like codependency, depression, and other mental disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment mechanism used for codependency. [4]

Signs of a Codependent Person

Benefits of Support for Codependency

There are professionals and designated support networks that can help you or your loved one to overcome codependency, equipping you with the necessary knowledge and tools to maintain healthy socialization.

Recognizing Key Signs of Dependency

Speaking with a professional at a codependency support center can help you identify key factors that are playing a role in the situation. These are variables that affected persons may never have been aware of, and understanding what they are is typically the first step to recovery. 

Overcoming People-Pleasing Tendencies and Setting Healthy Boundaries

Getting support for codependency helps affected people build a will for themselves. Therefore they can say no, set healthy boundaries, and overcome people-pleasing tendencies.

Support for codependency will also help to address related mental health symptoms, including feelings of guilt, anxiety, or depression.

Find Help for Codependency at Genesis Recovery

While codependency isn’t a classified mental disorder like depression and dependent personality disorder, it’s very limiting in several ways. It’s therefore important to seek appropriate help and build the will to escape such relationships or devise healthier means of meeting the needs of others.

At Genesis Recovery, our team of professionals are more than willing to provide expert support for codependency. Team members have been trained and have built the experience to recognize key players in each unique case of codependency. These factors guide our treatment procedures and inform our decisions. Reach out to Genesis Recovery to begin your recovery journey.


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