Have you reached a point where your patterns and behavior have become so painfully clear, embarrassing, and destructive… you start to lose hope? And because you don’t know how to get out of the cycle, you accept that your intuition will never be something that you’ll have the self-esteem to actually befriend and act on. All you know how to do is prosecute your intuition down to nothing and turn a blind eye via self-blame. I know I’ve been there. But for most of my life, every time I thought I had reached the point of BFF status with my intuition, I’d somehow find myself in a vastly different situation with the same damn outcome: heartbreak, unnecessary drama, insecurity, jealousy, lies, blaming myself for everything, and being crazy-labeled. Years later, I found out that these symptoms of my relationships were all signs of codependency.

“Am I codependent?” I thought. I didn’t even know what codependency was. All I knew was that I was in pain. The kind of pain that is so over-powering, you become convinced that without a toxic partner to save you, you’ll never find a way out.

If the healing of your pain is completely dependent on the decisions, actions, and behaviors of other people, you completely disqualify yourself from being an active participant in your own healing (and life). By doing this, you communicate to the universe that you’re more comfortable being in a dependent relationship (with your triggers, the cynical audience in your own head, and other people) than you are addressing your codependent personality.

For me, the idea of overcoming codependency sounded so much better than actually getting better.

Getting better was too scary. I didn’t know where to even begin sorting myself out.

Denial and avoidance were so much easier.

And since the universe has a way of always bringing back to us what we put out, I just kept getting more and more of the same. At that point, I had abandoned myself for so long, my life had become nothing more than micromanaging the “please don’t abandon me,” of every relationship I had and every opportunity that ultimately, I sabotaged.

I was so thirsty for validation; so busy trying to secure acceptance, there was no room for genuine connection or meaning in my relationships – starting with the relationship I had with myself. And as long as you don’t know who the f*ck you are, you will always look to toxic people/bankrupt sources to tell you who are and what you’re worth.

This was my reality for over 20 years of my life. Wash, rinse and humiliatingly, repeat.

What is codependency?

Codependent relationships are always one-sided. They have the highest highs and the absolute lowest lows. Although these relationships can feel very intimate (because an “us against the world” mentality is needed for survival), they are the opposite of what true intimacy is all about.

Codependency is when you have an excessive, unhealthy emotional and psychological reliance on your partner. It’s when you sacrifice your own needs and mental health to serve theirs. In your servitude, you live outside of yourself but are always able to quickly shift gears and make your partner’s behavior all about how you are somehow, never enough.

It’s where one (dysfunctional) person enables another (dysfunctional) person’s poor mental health, addiction, narcissism, immaturity, irresponsibility, gaslighting, sociopathy, avoidance, etc.

Codependent relationship signs

Whether it’s a codependent marriage, friendship, romantic relationship or familial relationship, the key to knowing how to overcome codependency is in the ability to recognize these things within yourself.

All of this used to be me…

  • The disease to please

    People pleasers are sitting ducks for codependency. You’d rather do what you think will garner the most validation/approval than follow your intuition. Codependents love listening to their hearts, libidos, heads… anything but their intuition.

  • Needing vs. wanting

    When I was codependent, I didn’t feel like I had any value without someone in my life that needed me. This leads to the destructive (and incorrect) assumption that most who struggle with codependency live by: needing = wanting.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re so needy ourselves, we start to assume that just because someone needs us, it must mean that they want us. There is a big difference.

    Why do we go for people that need us? As I’ve said before, it’s like taking a sh*tty insurance policy out on abandonment. As long as we’re with someone that needs us (and subsequently, uses/doormats us because we’re people pleasers), we convince ourselves that we’ll never be abandoned because, well, we’re NEEDED.

    This need/want confusion primes you for relationships with the emotionally unavailable, narcissistic, sociopathic and empathetically bankrupt (toxic) species. When you confuse being needed with being wanted, you project your low self-esteem onto others, forgetting that it will always boomerang right back in your face.

  • Like attracts like

    Who else would fall for, be blind to the red flags of, make excuses for, and continue in a relationship with a codependent other than another codependent? One person in the relationship is generally dependent on pleasing/providing, while the other is dependent on “being fed”/consuming. One is the ATM, the other is the cardholder. Both are dependent upon one another to complete the transaction – a transaction that is automated by un-dealt with trauma and void of any intimacy, genuine connection, or meaning. 

    What are you left with when you have an unhealthy dependence on relationships? An abuse of power; two individuals who can’t stand on both emotional feet because they can’t be INDIVIDUALS. They’re just two junkies – hooked on production and consumption. Guess what? You’re better than that. Codependency is a strain of desperation that disallows healthy communication, implementing boundaries, and ever being able to trust yourself or your partner.

    Codependency is all about trying to save the day. Codependents want to protect and “shield” people from experiencing the emotional distress that they feel on an hourly basis. They love being an emotional Red Cross unit for victims. They also try to shield others from experiencing any consequences for their behavior because codependents feel immense guilt. And therein lies the inability to hold their partner accountable for their actions.

  • Chaos and complication 

    Instead of continuing to ask “Am I codependent?” ask yourself… “Do I get caught up in (or create) unnecessary drama and chaos, so I don’t have to deal with the bigger problem (my inability to have an emotional life of my own, call my own shots and deal with my self lack of self-love)?”

  • You’re an emotional cutter

    You truly believe that you know exactly what’s best for others and feel abandoned and rejected when they don’t take your advice. You do this because as long as you can control others, you won’t have to deal with the scariest endeavor of getting control over the one thing that is massively OUT of control: yourself. This is why so many people who suffer from codependency are super OCD. They need control over everyone and everything because they’re scared. They don’t know how to take control of themselves and their lives. They can never take their own advice.

  • Fear

    Fear of not being enough is the root of codependency.

    Acting from a place of fear makes it impossible for boundaries to be enforced and self-love to develop. Living in fear (which eventually, turns into shameful anger), and bottling it up until there’s an outburst, is indicative of codependency.

    Codependent individuals feel very isolated. Because of this, their default mode is pedestaling others while simultaneously, de-pedestaling themselves. They’re also extremely resentful of authority figures because these people embody everything they feel like they can never be.

How To Stop Being Codependent Now

  1. Take inventory (and fire accordingly)

    Take an inventory of the people in your life that need you vs. the people that want you. Remember – you are the C.E.O of Y.O.U. Make the decision to fire the individuals in your life that drain you.

    How do you fire them? Speak with your dignified actions and remain on your white horse. If you can’t think of any people in your life that want you, start wanting a relationship with yourself and work towards that. You’ll eventually start to attract people that genuinely want to get to know you (the real you – not the weak, people-pleasing ass kisser that codependency turns you into).

  2. Set your own standards (instead of allowing others to set them for you). Wherever you set your standards is exactly where the universe will meet you.

    At what point is enough actually enough?

    Don’t ever be so desperate to “have somebody,” that you allow your standards to be negotiated down. Everyone needs to have limits. What are yours?

  3. Be aware of the mechanism

    Once you commit to overcoming codependency within yourself and your relationships, know that *it will* manifest elsewhere because it’s all you’ve known.

    This leads to your biggest problem: the codependent relationship that you have with your fears. If you’re codependent, fear needs you to exist and you need fear to have an existence. I spent the majority of my life acting from a place of fear. And as scary as taking the necessary action to have my own back was, I ended up meeting my soulmate.

    ME.

I realized that I was the only one who knew all of my secrets; the only one who had been there through everything.

I was the only one who knew every shred of the pain. And despite all of the humiliation, insecurity, blame, shame and drama that I had both inflicted and endured over the years…

I was still standing.

And at that moment, I realized that I had never given up on myself – even when I was convinced that I had. I was still here, right by my own side.

If that’s not the definition of a soul mate, I don’t know what is.

Once you recognize yourself as your own soulmate, you’ll stop being dependent on someone else to label you as theirs.

x Natasha

If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here

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29 comments

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Natasha,

Whenever you post something new, it always seems to relate to exactly what I am currently going through. I have been following your blog for a year and a half now and I can honestly say that I have grown as a woman more than I ever thought imaginable. I have escaped a toxic relationship with a true narcissist, I am finally on the path to healing and discovering who I am as a person and most importantly, learning to love myself. That has always been my greatest battle. It has been the hardest yet most rewarding journey thus far and I am excited to continue. There is no going backward now. I am so grateful for the tough lessons, the pain and all of the tears that I have shed. I am proud of my scars and the strong, self-respecting warrior that I have become as a result.

You have truly inspired me and given me the courage to turn my life around and for that I am forever grateful. Congratulations on your engagement! You absolutely deserve your fairytale ending and it gives me hope that someday I will find mine. ♡

I love you lots lady!!

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I am in tears of so much gratitude as I type this <3 incredibly proud of and happy for you Tiffany. And as honored as I am to have held up the proverbial mirror through my work, it was/is/will always be YOU who had the courage to tap into and recognize the beauty, resilience, strength, and power that has been there all along.

I cannot wait to meet you one day and give you a big hug in person.

Thank you 🙂 I have no doubt that you will find it too.

Love you

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Thank for this article. Two years ago I realized that my boundary and denial needed to be redefined. To save yourself from unnecessary broke heart, hurts, or pain from mistakes and regrets. The hardest part I swallow HUGE acceptance pill that I made stupid move to bypass friend into relationship fast because ex told me if you want slow progress, friends, and such I wouldn’t be interested on that route and wanted us get into relationship. So I did. Fast forward. Energy drained out. Psychic vampire. You name it. Revealed she had guy lined up and dating. Crushed me to million pieces. Guess what? The guy she chose over me turn out future faker to her! No wonder why there’s no friendship UNLESS one meet their terms & conditions to have one. Those are esteem destroyer so avoid those mistakes I made. Again. Save yourself from unnecessary agonies. Take it SLOW go with the flow. Not with terms & conditions. Words and Actions must match freely. Just exactly said article above. Natasha. Thank you. John. PS. I haven’t been in any relationship since then due to angers but it seem to lessen more than before. Unfortunately it sometimes plaques but more lesser (down-feel) and gradually more (up feel). I’m still struggling with one of dual disability that is hard to accept and I don’t know whether I’ll have any relationship anytime soon? It’s scary to re-trust but reckon I have to. Dealing with the unknown-future. I’m like… I don’t know the right word for this…. like…. Fuck it. Go with the flow. See what the unknown bring up? 🙄🤷‍♂️ FYI. Anyone go thru similar I’m going thru. Do lot reading in PMS articles. It do helps. But I’m still search how to accept the one of dual disability and love myself again one day. Still unable to find good articles on that regard.

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Hi Natasha,

I have always loved your posts since the day I found your site two years ago. Since then I have been working on getting over a break up which left me devastated. After a lot of soul searching, I realised that I had been a people pleaser, a codependent and lacked confidence and self esteem. I have been working on this but I wonder whether it’s possible to get stuck in a vicious circle of not being able to break free from codependency. I felt encouraged by one of the comments on this post where experts say it can take between 3 to 5 years to recover however being in my late forties I am panicking that I won’t ever recover. The past month has been really difficult with Christmas and New Year which probably has made things seem worse. I feel like i’m the only person who is single in my peer group and as much as i’m trying to embrace it, I am finding it difficult at times. I know I have to keep pushing forward and work on myself but I can’t see any improvement. I just wondered if anyone else has felt this way..and whether this is just part of the process? They say it can be darkest before the dawn..

Whilst my post seems a bit despondent, the positive part is this brilliant forum for sharing experiences and whilst I feel alone at times, I know in reality, i’m never alone in my experiences.

Congratulations on your engagement Natasha ❤️❤️❤️ and thank you for all you do to bring light to people’s lives through PMS..

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Hi Helen,

Please know you’re not alone. I’ll be 37 next week and while I’m working hard on myself I’m having a hard time breaking the cycle as well. Just keep putting in the work. You’re never alone ❤️

Brianne

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I love this love and support 🙏🏼♥️♥️♥️

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Thanks Brianne, I really appreciate it and it certainly helps to know i’m not alone..I wish you all the best with your journey too ❤️❤️

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This post should be a Core (*start here!) article for your blog! Everything you said here is sooo key to understanding yourself, where you came from, possible toxic relationships, the “dance” that ensues, and the red and even pink flags!

It could preemptively save so many from heartache – to recognize and deal with those co-dependent tendencies in yourself, to go back and look at your childhood and past relational patterns, to be aware of the flags, to realize what co-dependency leads to in a relationship. Nothing good, ever! There is nothing redemptive ab being co-dependant. It’s not sometimes ok; it’s dysfunctional, as “right” or comfortable as it may feel according to how you were raised. You don’t get a medal for making yourself a doormat or martyr. That’s not true humility, as I’m learning.

This post is so core/key it preempts and could circumnavigate “am I dating a – narcissist, sociopath, psychopath, emotionally bankrupt person?” Look at yourself and your reaction to the relationship first. This is what I’ve learned here. And it’s GOLD, people. You could save yourself a ton of heartache if you will be really honest with yourself and act accordingly!

It’s just so eye-opening and you always always give us a way out of dysfunction, confusion and heartache after schooling us on the basics in the most inspiring way. Never shaming or guilting. I always feels so safe to explore your site bc it always gives me hope! I feel stronger and more confident just reading your words even if I haven’t implemented them yet. And you’re always there for us if we fall off our white horse. I wish I could give you a big hug. I wish I had read this years ago but I know it came at just the right time. 😘

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Hello Helen.
You are no alone. I am 55. Still learning, still growing. I have not been in a relationship for two years. I had a broken heart and it de take time.
You cannot say I am over him but I know more now. There is no shame in being on your own for a while because you at getting to know me.
Just stay on your white horse and keep your self respect. You also have this beautiful place that Natasha has created to help you.

Be well. 🌸

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Thank you for this my dear <3 Love you. xo

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I will try to write about that soon! Happy that the post helped! 🙂

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Natasha. 😳😲😳 Rumors seem to confirm that you are engaged!?! 👏🙌🤗. May the fortunes bless y’all! 🤟. John.

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Thanks John!! 🙂

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Natasha:
How your words and wisdom touch and heal so many..
Again , perfect timing for this to show up in my in-box.
No matter how young or old, the issue of co dependency and all the garbage that is attached to it affects us all the same.
Time for me to get back on my white horse and ride into the sunset ( my boundaries) and leave them ( dysfunctional, narcissists , addicts, emotionally unavailable and toxic family members, friends in my dust.

Susan
xo❤️

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YES, YES, YESSS!!!

I’m so happy that it served you <3 and at the right time. Thanks for being here Susan and for being you.

You got this and we've got each other. Always. xx

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Hi Natasha, this is such a brilliant post. What stood out to me was the like attracts like. It is so true. Thanks so much for this post , I can now be more honest with myself, take inventory of certain traits I have that attract toxic and codependent people.

Amazing way to start the new year, by eradicating codependency once and for all❤️❤️

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I was thinking of our conversations when I wrote this because I know it’s something we have both struggled with. But how incredible is it to know that we have each other and this community? Happy New Year sister 🙂 I’m glad that the post was helpful. Love you! xo

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I know right! I am in such a different space, no time for co-dependency or seeking approval from people who cannot see my worth. One word to describe 2020… Liberation <3.

I wish the same for everyone who reads this.

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Amen Natasha. This post really resonated with me and I’m glad you wrote it.

For anyone reading this who wonders whether you’re codependent with your partner, ask yourself this question – do you feel responsible for your partner’s feelings? If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance you are codependent. There is a wealth of helpful material on how to address codependency on Natasha’s blog. Some experts estimate it takes the average person three to five years to recover from codependency, so if you think you’re struggling with this very real and insidious problem, start your recovery here on PMS.

Natasha, thank you!

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I have missed you so much on here Brandon. Thank YOU for, as always, getting to the pulp of what I try to express and adding such incredible insight to it. I’m never going to stop asking you to write a guest post on here 🙂

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I concur! Brandon I always appreciate your comments…. guest post! Guest post from a male yes! You really helped me see the bigger picture, which influenced my comment. And thanks for the realistic timeline bc sometimes we get stuck when our goals are short-sighted.

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I want to think that I’m finally growing up because I walked away from a relationship with a man who I really, really wanted things to work out with, but after a year and a half of his avoidant tendencies, I walked away and haven’t looked back. It is so very painful, but he can’t give me what I need and deserve. It hurts, but I know if I hang around, I will forever be frustrated by his lack of commitment, moving things forward, and mixed messages. It’s been two months and though it hurts that he isn’t trying to save things with me, it also tells me everything I need to know about him, which is he is not grown enough for where I now am in life. I am in a place where I know that I deserve someone who is thankful for me, not on the fence about me. Thank you for reminding me that I am all I need, and the next man will be my partner, not my project.

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Kim,

Thank you for taking the time to share and for inspiring not only me, but everyone who reads your comment.

You are always, exactly what you need <3 And that mindset will attract what you DESERVE.

All my love to you soul sister. xox

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This touched home. I am so codependent, I know it and I hate it. I don’t know what to do to stop it. I have tried many things, but I feel like I rely on others just to feel somewhat good about myself. I get compliments all the time, but never accept them.

Thank you again for all your amazing words! I look forward to reading this again.

Love you Natasha! Hope you had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! xo

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Samantha, i’m exactly the same but am determined to not let it beat me, as frustrating and difficult as I find it..I am going to keep working on learning to love myself.. you will get there too! ❤️

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Thank you, for this wonderful post! I have been in Coda recovery for over one year know. It has given me wonderful tools locally and a support system. I would highly recommend a meeting for anyone struggling. For me it’s like a coda dance two steps forward one back.
I’m in complete no contact right now and my ex tried creating a smear campaign. If it wasn’t for coda I don’t think I would be able to get out of my bed right now. Never thought my situation could even hit a lower rock bottom but it did.
I’m still going to work and yoga. I’m making it through the day. I’m trying very hard to move forward. It’s not easy at all. It truly is one day at a time. Trying to let go of that feeling of when is the other shoe going to drop.
I’m just holding onto faith and patience with all I can. ❤️

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I’m so happy it helped 🙂 Thanks for sharing Lauren, and for being a part of this tribe. You’re doing the right thing and I hope you know just how many people you’re helping by having the courage to share.

Thanks for being you. All my love to you sister. xo

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Hello Natasha.

As always this was an amazing post. I agree that this is a great piece of information to have and we do need to start with ourselves.
That is not always easy to do because we do not have direction. You give people that every single time you write. You share and you give and yof yourself. It wish I had this pot of gold when I was younger, I could have saved myself so much pain and heartache.
I am grateful though that my last heartbreak led me to find you. That is something I will always be thankful for.
I am pretty sure I was codependent at one time. I remember the dance between him and I. I also remember losing parts of myself.
Thankfully I am not that girl anymore.
Thank you for these words of wisdom. Miss you and love you always. 😘💕🌸🦄

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No, you are definitely not that girl anymore <3 So proud of and happy for you.

I appreciate you. Love you too. xo

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