Are You Codependent or Do You Just Have Regular Emotional Needs? (2023)



    Are You Codependent or Do You Just Have Regular Emotional Needs? (1)

    Source: @lifew.erin

    (Video) 8 Signs You May Be Codependent

    I have to admit: I’m often pretty codependent in my relationships. Sometimes I’ll decide to not speak up about something because I’m afraid it might push my partner away, or I’ll jump to the worst-case scenario when I don’t hear from them. I’ve even had my fair share of needing constant reassurance and feeling really insecure if there’s a moment I don’t get it.It’s something I’m actively working on, but it’s easy for me to slip into these codependency patterns, especially in seasons where I feel more anxious or am struggling with self-confidence.

    While I have gotten better, I still sometimes have a hard time identifying if certain reactions and feelings are from a place of codependency or if they’re just regular emotional needs. And I know I’m not the only one who faces this question—codependency has become more and more popular over the years as mental health has become a key part of relationships. However, the term has been misused so often that it can be hard to tell if we’re really struggling with codependency or if we’re just expressing needs we expect to be met. So what is codependency, how do you know if you or your partner are dealing with it, and what do you do if you are? Read on to find out the healthiest way to get your needs met.

    In this article

    1What is codependency?

    (Video) Codependency & Boundaries: What You Need to Know

    2What’s the difference between codependency and having healthy emotional needs?

    3So how much should you depend on a romantic partner?

    4Struggling with codependency? Here’s what to do next:

    What is codependency?

    As Vicki Botnick, a marriage and family therapist, explained to Psych Central, codependency can be defined as “any enmeshed relationship in which one person loses their sense of independence and believes they need to tend to someone else.” While codependency may sound similar to selflessness, it’s more of an unhealthy willingness to give yourself up to keep someone else. Joaquín Selva, Bc.S., explained to Positive Psychology that codependency is “a specific relationship addiction characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence—emotional, social and sometimes physical—on another person.”

    Research has found many common characteristics of codependent behavior, like lack of astrong sense of self. A study of codependency found that every single one of its participants had a hard time defining who they really are, something this study calls “The Chameleon-Self.” In other words, each participant easily adapted to every situation instead of showing up with consistent behavior as their true selves. The participants also described feeling out of control emotionally as well as feeling trapped in the passive role in their relationships in order to please the other person.

    Codependency often stems from lack of self-worth, which can then lead to needing external validation. This can show up in every area of life, but it is especially detrimental in relationships. For example, do you find yourself struggling to do things without your partner or find it difficult to pursue hobbies or friendships on your own? Have you ever found yourself changing plans you already had to make sure you can hang with your partner? Or maybe you’ve diminished your own needs to please the other person? While codependent behavior can be toxic and negative, sometimes normal and healthy emotional needs get mistaken for codependent behaviors (especially in situations where our needs aren’t being met, but more on that below).

    What’s the difference between codependency and having healthy emotional needs?

    Since codependency has become a popular term, people often mistakenly use it to describe healthy, normal emotional needs within a relationship. For example, you might worry it’s “needy” to express that you want more regular phone communication when you’re not together or that you want to know where your partner stands. In reality, expressing your needs and communicating expectations are healthy behaviors, not codependent, needy, or high maintenance (and to everyone who thinks otherwise: thank you, next). Our society has often confused codependency with vulnerability. For example, has anyone ever called you (or have you called someone) “needy” if you ask for more time or affection? Do you think it’s “high-maintenance” to let your partner know you need help or have high expectations?

    (Video) Don't confuse codependency with this

    Having emotional needs within the context of a partnership is healthy, and being able to express them and get these needs met is a crucial part of a safe, thriving relationship (it’s not codependent!). The difference is the intention: Are you making requests or certain actions based on what you want out of a relationship, or is it because of your own insecurities, lack of self-worth, and fear the relationship won’t work out? You shouldn’t need your partner to feel good about yourself, but you should be vulnerable and able to depend on your partner. The opposite of codependency isn’t independence; it’s interdependence.

    So how much should you depend on a romantic partner?

    Codependency is about losing a sense of self and looking to your partner for all of your needs, whileinterdependency is the balance of having a strong sense of self while allowing your partner to help and support you. Interdependent relationships are when both partners are able to depend on each other (like knowing the other will be supportive when expressing needs or that you’re able to ask for help), but you won’t forego your needs for theirs and sacrifice yourself for your relationship.

    Expressing emotional needs, like asking for more communication, physical touch, or quality time, does not make you codependent (that’s just knowing your love language). These emotional needs within a relationship are normal and healthy, especially when you have honest conversations where the other person respects you and makes changes so your needs can be met. However, it can become codependent when you begin to ask for these things out of a desire to find self-worth or affirmation.

    Struggling with codependency? Here’s what to do next:

    1. Focus on you

    If you realize you haven’t seen your friends in a while and only see your partner’s friends or mutual couple friends, ask yourself why. What makes you prioritize your partner or relationship over the life you’ve had up until this point? Same with the small things, like hobbies you might’ve stopped doing or music you stopped listening to. Often, codependency has a lot to do insecurity about not feeling enough without your significant other. To feel enough, prioritize all the things that you love, whether it’s watching more sci-fi movies (even though your partner much prefers comedies) or make plans with the friend that always makes you laugh. Fill your life with so many of the people, activities, and things that bring youjoy so that your partner is not your entire life and instead just one amazing piece of an already great life.

    2. Check in on your partner’s part in the codependency

    So maybe you’ve been feeling like you’re codependent, needy, or high maintenance, but you realize you’ve been expressing healthy emotional needs that just aren’t being met. Or maybe your partner has done things in the past that made you insecure in your relationship. Sometimes it’s not that we’re naturally codependent but that other people can make us insecure or question how “normal” our needs are. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the difficult questions like “Is your partner hearing you out?” and “Do you feel like you have a safe place to express your needs in your relationship?” Bottom line: Codependent or not, you deserve to feel heard, valued, and cared for in your relationship.

    3. Talk with a therapist or relationship counselor

    If you’re really struggling with codependency and not having a strong sense of self (in your relationship or otherwise), find a therapist or trusted professional to help you work through these patterns and rebuild your sense of self. Working with a therapist can help you determine the healthy amount of trust, dependence, and vulnerability for you and your relationship. More importantly, working on your own self-identity and building up your interdependence can make you happier, calmer, and better in every aspect of your life.

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    (Video) Are YOU Codependent? 7 ways to heal from codependency.



    What is the difference between emotional dependency and codependency? ›

    Dependent: Both people can express their emotions and needs and find ways to make the relationship beneficial for both of them. Codependent: One person feels that their desires and needs are unimportant and will not express them. They may have difficulty recognizing their own feelings or needs at all.

    Am I codependent or just empathetic? ›

    When another person is having an emotional experience, empathy allows us to hold space. We can be fully present and listen. But with codependency, we lack the ability to regulate our emotions: When someone comes to us needing support, we cannot hold space.

    How do you show emotional support without being codependent? ›

    A True Friend
    1. Help them feel like they're not alone. You do this just by being with them. ...
    2. Listen attentively. If you belong to their imagination, your only focus is on their thoughts and feelings. ...
    3. Be a mirror. All you need to do is reflect the person back to themselves. ...
    4. Acknowledge their feelings.
    Sep 6, 2017

    What is codependency confused with? ›

    Codependent people can confuse intensity with intimacy.

    They can have a sort of craving for a person or a relationship. In a very real sense, it can be an addiction to someone.

    What attachment style do codependents have? ›

    Anxious attachment is what is most often referred to as codependent. Those with anxious attachment often feel as though they would like to be close to others or one person in particular but they worry that another person may not want to be close to them.

    Am I clingy or codependent? ›

    Is Codependency the Same Thing as Clinginess? Codependency refers to the state of needing to have another person validate you, depend upon you, and make sacrifices for you to prove their love to you. It's a dysfunctional relationship pattern that may involve clinginess when your partner isn't there.

    How do you realize that you're codependent? ›

    Signs of Codependency:

    A tendency to be overly responsible and not accept help. Low self-esteem or feeling superior and judgmental. A tendency to hide feelings of anger and disappointment to avoid rejection. A pattern of trying to control people, places of things.

    What childhood trauma causes codependency? ›

    Childhood trauma is often a root cause of codependency. They don't always result, but for many people codependent relationships are a response to unaddressed past traumas. One reason may be that childhood trauma is usually family-centered: abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or even just divorce and fighting.

    What are the five core symptoms of codependency? ›

    The Five Core Symptoms of Codependency
    • Neglecting your own needs.
    • No or Few Boundaries.
    • Owning your own reality.
    • Low Self Esteem.
    • Black and White Thinking.
    Sep 27, 2014

    What is borderline codependent? ›

    The Desire for Codependency

    Borderline personality disorder, however, fosters codependency, a situation where one person in a relationship relies on the other for the vast majority of their needs and desires. People with BPD often derive their sense of worth from how much other people are serving them, Lobel said.

    Can you be emotionally unavailable and codependent? ›

    Lack of support – it is also common for a person in a codependent relationship to be emotionally and socially isolated. After all, your time is spent trying to make the partner happy, and friends and family are often ignored or brushed off.

    Am I the giver in a codependent relationship? ›

    In a codependent relationship, one person is the giver and the other person is the taker. In a healthy relationship, the give and take is mutual. Both partners give things the other person needs.

    How do you detach from emotional dependency? ›

    You can let go of emotional dependency by: By becoming emotionally stronger. Staying in touch with both negative and positive emotions instead of seeking refuge in someone else the moment you feel down. Learning to be there for yourself.

    What are four symptoms involved in codependency? ›

    Signs of Codependency
    • Poor boundaries with others.
    • Low-self esteem.
    • Caretaking.
    • Obsessions.
    • A need for control.
    • Difficulty making decisions.
    • Trouble identifying or communicating thoughts, feelings or needs.
    • Chronic anger or strong, emotional reactions.

    What is one of the key features of codependency? ›

    The main sign of codependency is consistently elevating the needs of others above your own. Other signs include controlling behaviors, self-sacrifice, and fear of rejection. But these aren't the only ones.

    What is the healthy opposite of codependency? ›

    What is Interdependency? Interdependency can be considered the healthy cousin of codependency. While codependency is an unequal partnership that puts one person above the other, interdependency requires both people to be able to operate autonomously.

    Which attachment style is most manipulative? ›

    Individuals high in anxious attachment are more likely to engage in emotional manipulation and other harmful behaviors intended to prevent a partner from leaving the relationship, which in turn is linked to reduced relationship satisfaction, according to new research published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

    What do codependents crave? ›

    They typically form an identity around serving others' needs. They may try to control another person's behavior, believing they know what is best for the person. Instead of praise, codependents often crave gratitude and a sense of “being needed.”

    What are the two sides to a codependent relationship? ›

    A codependent relationship is a kind of dysfunctional relationship where one person is a caretaker, and the other person takes advantage. Codependent relationships are extremely common among people with substance use issues.

    Is being clingy a trauma response? ›

    Acting clingy

    An individual might hold on to a relationship even though it consistently makes them feel frightened or unloved. Moreover, relational trauma can also lead people to feel and act clingy even when they're in a loving, stable relationship.

    Are needy people codependent? ›

    Codependents are needy, demanding, and submissive. They suffer from abandonment anxiety and, to avoid being overwhelmed by it, they cling to others and act immaturely. These behaviors are intended to elicit protective responses and to safeguard the "relationship" with their companion or mate upon whom they depend.

    What does codependency look like in a marriage? ›

    Within a codependent marriage, one partner has extreme emotional or physical needs, and the other partner is willing to do whatever it takes to meet those needs. The codependent is so in love, and they want that love reciprocated.

    What does a codependent child look like? ›

    An adult child who had a codependent upbringing may have anxiety over decision-making, use passive-aggressive behavior while upset, and make personal stressors a problem for parents to solve.

    What kind of children do codependents raise? ›

    A child who is raised by a codependent parent is often told their feelings and needs are not important. The child's personality is developed around the control and needs of the codependent parent. The child has no true sense of self which is discouraged by the codependent parent.

    Do codependents love their children? ›

    Most codependent parents form an unhealthy attachment to the child, expecting (and in some ways demanding) a sense of devotion and love from their children that is harmful and destructive.

    Am I codependent or narcissistic? ›

    Codependency is when two people are locked in a life where they feed off on another, causing mental anguish. Narcissism is when one of the pair is self-centered, arrogant, and lacks empathy for their partner.

    What is codependency checklist? ›

    Codependents often...

    Believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves. Attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel. Freely offer advice and direction without being asked. Become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.

    What are codependents afraid of? ›

    As a result, codependents tend to fear rejection, criticism, not being good enough, failure, conflict, vulnerability, and being out of control. So, situations and people that trigger these fears can spike our anxiety.

    Am I codependent checklist? ›

    Blame themselves for everything. Pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act, and behave. Get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indignant when others blame and criticize the codependents something codependents regularly do to themselves. Reject compliments or praise.

    How are codependents manipulative? ›

    The codependent manipulates themselves as well. Their need for perfection keeps them going in order to avoid failure. They often have two speeds: all or nothing. Manipulating Others – Their desire for perfection often seeps onto others.

    Do codependents have friends? ›

    Codependent friendships can swallow you up becoming the most important relationship in your life; you might even feel like you cant live without this friendship. Healthy friendships meet the needs of both people. Its normal for there to be some imbalance in the short-term, but things should balance out over time.

    What mental illness causes codependency? ›

    Mental health experts borrowed criteria of codependent behavior from dependent personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and histrionic personality disorder.

    What is quiet BPD? ›

    Quiet BPD is an unofficial term for when you engage with symptoms inwardly, instead of outwardly. Share on Pinterest Sarah Mason/Getty Images. Having quiet borderline personality disorder (BPD) — aka “high-functioning” BPD — means that you often direct thoughts and feelings inward rather than outward.

    What personality types are attracted to BPD? ›

    Borderline/dependent: A person with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is well-matched with a person who has a dependent personality disorder (DPD). The BPD has an intense fear of abandonment which is a good match for the DPD who will not leave even a dysfunctional relationship.

    Am I needy or are they emotionally unavailable? ›

    If you find yourself cling to someone who really isn't deserving of you, chances are that you are being needy and the man you are seeing is emotionally unavailable. The reason for this is because often times women will specifically go after men that are emotionally unavailable, if not consciously, then unconsciously.

    What is emotional detachment for codependents? ›

    Detaching helps you to stay in relationship and not lose your sense of self. Detaching is similar to setting boundaries. Detaching puts healthy emotional or physical space between you and your loved one in order to give you both the freedom to make your own choices and have your own feelings.

    How do emotionally unavailable people act? ›

    Signs of emotional unavailability include fear of intimacy, trouble expressing emotions, and commitment anxiety. “It's not something you can fix for them, nor is it something they can quickly and easily change about themselves for you,” Jernigan says.

    Can you be in a one sided codependent relationship? ›

    A codependent relationship can be one where both partners have this dysfunctional reliance on the other, or it can be totally one-sided, with only one person looking to the other, who may actually like having so much control.

    How do you break free of codependency? ›

    Some healthy steps to healing your relationship from codependency include:
    1. Start being honest with yourself and your partner. ...
    2. Stop negative thinking. ...
    3. Don't take things personally. ...
    4. Take breaks. ...
    5. Consider counseling. ...
    6. Rely on peer support. ...
    7. Establish boundaries.
    Sep 19, 2016

    Am I emotionally draining my partner? ›

    A couple is likely to experience emotional drain when one member of the couple repeatedly asks for things, or imposes demands on the other partner, Dr. Dorfman says. Maybe that shows up in too many texts throughout the day, or constantly asking for favors that cause extra stress in their schedule.

    Is it healthy to always want to be with your boyfriend? ›

    In fact, depending on your partner to always be by your side creates an unhealthy connection. Healthy relationships thrive when two independent people unite. When you're spending every waking moment with a partner this creates a lack of boundaries, breeding enmeshment, and emotional instability.

    What is an example of emotional dependency? ›

    Emotional dependency is a psychological condition in which an individual needs another person to stay happy, and is unable to take full responsibility for their feelings. One might experience grief, worry, anxiety, depression, and despair and feel powerless to nurture these emotions themselves.

    What is emotional dependency? ›

    Emotionally dependent people have a great lack of self-control and feel great discomfort when they are not near the person they are dependent on. They feel the insatiable need to be with that person and are unable to sever the ties that bind them.

    How do you explain emotional dependency? ›

    Emotional dependency is a state of mind where a person is incapable of taking full responsibility for their own feelings. They do have emotions like sorrow, grief, heartbreak, anxiety, and depression but they cannot embrace, accept, or nurture these feelings.

    What is emotional dependency disorder? ›

    Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is a type of anxious personality disorder. People with DPD often feel helpless, submissive or incapable of taking care of themselves. They may have trouble making simple decisions. But, with help, someone with a dependent personality can learn self-confidence and self-reliance.

    Are you in love or emotionally dependent? ›

    Love versus emotional dependency.

    "Love" that comes from fear isn't love—it's neediness. Emotional dependency comes from the inner emptiness that is created when you abandon yourself—and you then expect your partner to fill your emptiness and make you feel loved and safe.

    What are the 4 types of dependency in relationships? ›

    In this blog post, we will discuss the four types of dependency: Independency, Interdependency, dependency, and codependency. Understanding these different types can help you identify any unhealthy dependencies and work on overcoming them.

    How do I let go of emotional attachment? ›

    How to get rid of emotional attachment?
    1. Meditate daily: ...
    2. Let go of expectation: ...
    3. Stay calm no matter the situation: ...
    4. Live an ethical life: ...
    5. Read books about non-attachment: ...
    6. Stay active even when things are changing: ...
    7. Make a change to your surroundings: ...
    8. Learn from your experience:
    Aug 31, 2020

    Can you love someone and not be emotionally attached? ›

    It is entirely possible to be fully committed to someone without being attached to them, and to feel deeply emotionally connected without becoming entirely dependent on them. In fact, if we want to be in a happy, supportive, and loving partnership, it would be much better to focus on loving without attachment.

    How do I stop being codependent? ›

    Here are 5 steps to help you stop being codependent:
    1. Understand what codependency looks like to you. ...
    2. Figure out where your relationship expectations are coming from. ...
    3. Establish boundaries for yourself in relationships. ...
    4. Resist the urge to fix, control, or save. ...
    5. Prioritize Your Own Growth.

    What are three qualities of an emotionally healthy person? ›

    People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They're able to cope with life's challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.

    What are the consequences of emotional dependency? ›

    Emotional dependency generates a series of negative emotional consequences: symptoms of anxiety and depression, obsessive thoughts, sleep disorders and abandonment of social relations and leisure.


    1. The Two Codependent Personalities: Why You Need To Know About Both
    (Kenny Weiss)
    2. Codependency and Complex Trauma - Part 1/10
    (Tim Fletcher)
    3. Your Emotional Needs Not Being Met in Relationships
    (Alan Robarge / Attachment Trauma Therapist)
    4. How can I meet my own emotional needs and cease the loops of codependency?
    (The Evolution of Love)
    5. Emotional Oversharing - Codependency and Love Addiction
    (Alan Robarge / Attachment Trauma Therapist)
    6. Why are you Codependent and How to HEAL | Stephanie Lyn Coaching
    (Stephanie Lyn Coaching)
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