The Mathematics of Codependency (1+1=1)

codepdenencyWould you go to any length or tolerate almost any behavior in order to hold on to your current relationship? Do you fear abandonment? Do you find yourself making lots of sacrifices for another’s happiness but don’t get much in return. If you answered yes to these questions, you may be displaying signs of codependency.

Codependency is a behavioral and emotional condition affecting a person’s ability to have a healthy and mutually-satisfying relationship. Codependents often form and maintain relationships involving neediness and control rather and respect and love.

Caretakers and Takers

Codependent relationships are comprised of “caretakers” and “takers”.  Caretakers often give up their own wants and needs in order to satisfy their partner, children, etc. They live through and for others for the sole purpose of receiving love and validation in return, not in the interest of giving itself. Often caretakers find themselves in physically and emotionally abusive relationships, due to their inability to say no and their belief that if they love enough or are good enough they can and will eventually change the other person.

On the other hand, takers have an extreme desire to control people around them. Takers attempt to control the amount of attention, approval, or love received from others with criticism, guilt, anger, neediness, intrusive touch, emotional drama, or continuous talking. When these two types of people meet and form relationships, the dynamics are typically unhealthy.

Signs and Characteristics of Codependency

  • Unhealthy dependence on relationships
  • Issues with setting healthy boundaries or problems with intimacy
  • A strong desire to control others
  • Guilt when asserting yourself
  • An extreme need for recognition or approval
  • Continuous anger
  • Dishonesty/lies
  • Lack of communication
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Lack of trust in others/self

You Identified With These Signs: What is the Next Step?

The first step in breaking a cycle of codependency is to acknowledge and recognize the problem. A better understanding of codependency can be gained through many written and online resources, including landmark self-help books, such as, Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. If you want help for your codependency there are a variety of effective counseling and therapeutic approaches, as well as, 12-step groups that focus on a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual solutions to the problem. Regardless of which avenue you choose, it is important you begin your journey to healing and healthy relationships.

The Council on Recovery is often the starting place for individuals seeking help with codependency, as well as other addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders. Help is available for all family members. Call 713.942.4100 or visit