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Untangling the Web: Understanding Codependent Relationships

Updated: Mar 24

In the entangled dance of human relationships, there exists a dynamic that can be both subtle and destructive: codependency. While the term may be familiar, its nuances and implications are often misunderstood. In this article, we'll delve into the complexities of codependent relationships, exploring their characteristics, dynamics, some tools to break free, and the toll they can take on the individuals involved.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a relational pattern characterized by excessive reliance on another person for validation, identity, and a sense of worth. Codependency stems from dependency, insecurity and unhealthy coping mechanisms learned in childhood. This excessive need for the other can be found in any type of relationship: romantic, familial, friendly, or professional.

Codependency isn’t considered a disorder in psychiatric institutions and there are various definitions. At a national American Conference in 1989, experts arrived at the following definition: “A pattern of painful dependency on compulsive behaviours and on approval from others in an attempt to find safety, self-worth, and identity.” 

It often manifests in one-sided, dysfunctional relationships where one partner enables the unhealthy behaviours of the other, typically at the expense of their own well-being. 

Codependency can be seen as a form of emotional and affective addiction which creates profound relational dysfunction and negatively impacts one’s mental health.

At the heart of codependency lies a deep-seated fear of abandonment or rejection, driving individuals to prioritize the needs of others above their own, often to their detriment. This can lead to a cycle of dependency, low self-esteem, and emotional turmoil, perpetuating unhealthy patterns of behaviour.

Codependency in Dysfunctional or Toxic Relationships

The term codependency started to be used in the U.S. in the 1980s to refer to a person who was dependent on another person suffering from an addiction. Then, the term became more broadly used and codependency began to be seen as personality traits that can impact a person in all relationships. 

Although not all codependent relationships are one-sided or abusive, codependents often find themselves in relationships where the partner suffers from an addiction, an illness, or a personality disorder such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. 

A codependent relationship can be seen as: “I can’t be ok unless you are ok. My emotional state depends on you being ok.” And often it is a dynamic where the person who needs help because of his illness or addiction often needs the codependent. And the codependent needs to be needed. So, when the addicted person gets better, codependents often don’t do well because they are so attached to their role of being the “helper” or “rescuer”.

In toxic relationships, when a narcissist is involved for example, the “toxic” partner needs the “codependent” partner as a supply to boost their ego for validation of their sense of superiority, grandiosity, and the feeling that they are special. The narcissist will also use the codependent to satisfy their pattern of power and control in the relationship. The codependent will also look for validation of their sense of worth, identity and self-esteem while using the relationship to play their role of the “fixer”, “helper”, and the one who naturally sacrifices their own needs and well-being for the common good of the relationship. This dynamic is often played subconsciously until the codependent gains awareness or reaches a crisis where this dark dance is no longer sustainable.

The Common Dynamics of Codependent Relationships

Codependent relationships are marked by several key dynamics:

1. Enabling Behavior:

In a codependent dynamic, one partner often assumes the role of the caregiver or rescuer, while the other adopts the role of the dependent or victim. The caregiver may enable the dependent's destructive behaviours, such as substance abuse or emotional manipulation, out of a misguided sense of loyalty or obligation.

2. Lack of Boundaries:

Boundaries are blurred or nonexistent in codependent relationships, making it difficult for individuals to assert their needs, desires, and personal autonomy. This can lead to a sense of suffocation and a loss of individual identity as boundaries are constantly crossed or disregarded.

3. Emotional Dependence:

Codependent individuals often derive their sense of self-worth and validation from their relationships, leading to an unhealthy reliance on external validation. This can result in an emotional rollercoaster, as self-esteem fluctuates based on the approval or rejection of others.

4. Manipulative Dynamics:

Manipulation and control are common features of codependent relationships, as both partners may engage in behaviours designed to maintain the status quo and avoid confronting underlying issues. This can manifest in passive-aggressive communication, guilt-tripping, or emotional blackmail. When the codependent’s partner is narcissistic or has a mental disorder, the manipulative dynamic can turn sour and impact the codependent’s mental, emotional, and even physical health.

The Toll of Codependency

Codependent relationships can exact a heavy toll on those involved, leading to a range of negative consequences:

1. Diminished Self-Worth:

Constantly prioritizing the needs of others can erode one's sense of self-worth and identity, leaving individuals feeling depleted and undervalued.

2. Emotional Exhaustion:

The emotional rollercoaster of a codependent relationship can be draining, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout.

3. Stunted Personal Growth:

Codependency can hinder personal growth and development, as individuals may struggle to assert their independence and pursue their own goals and interests. Considering coaching can be very helpful in recovering autonomy and empowerment.

4. Reinforced Dysfunction:

By enabling unhealthy behaviours and avoiding confrontation, codependent relationships can perpetuate cycles of dysfunction and prevent both partners from addressing underlying issues. Doing an RTT session with the power of hypnosis is among the best methods to uncover what lies beneath such dysfunctional relational patterns.

Breaking Free from Codependency

Breaking free from the grip of codependency is a challenging but essential journey toward healing and self-discovery. Here are some steps individuals can take to begin untangling the web of codependency:

1. Self-Awareness:

Recognize and acknowledge the signs of codependency in your relationships, including patterns of enabling, lack of boundaries, and emotional dependence. If you are in doubt about whether you are codependent or not in your relationships, reach out to me to take a psychological test that will determine your level of codependency.

2. Set Boundaries:

Establish clear boundaries and communicate your needs and limits assertively but compassionately. Learn to say no without guilt and prioritize self-care.

3. Seek Support:

Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist for support and guidance. Surround yourself with individuals who respect and validate your feelings and experiences.

4. Focus on Self-Improvement:

Invest in your own personal growth and development. Explore your interests, pursue hobbies, and set goals that align with your values and aspirations.

5. Seek Professional Help:

Consider seeking therapy or counselling to address underlying issues and learn healthier coping mechanisms and communication skills. RTT and hypnotherapy are powerful therapeutic methods where you can find the root cause of your codependency, and untangle your limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging patterns learnt from childhood. These solution-based methods ultimately empower you to break free from this dysfunctional way of relating to another in a relationship.

When codependency is not addressed and healed, this can cause you to:

  1. Suffer in your romantic and emotional relationships;

  2. Sabotage your relationship with others;

  3. Lose your self-esteem and put both your mental and physical health at risk;

  4. Live with an abandonment wound more and more intense;

  5. Keep having painful relationships or stay in an abusive one.

If you want to heal and effect lasting beneficial changes in your life and relationships, do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will send you a test along with your therapeutic and coaching action plan. Simply send me a message at:


Codependent relationships may be deeply entrenched and challenging to unravel, but they are not insurmountable. By finding the root cause of your codependency, understanding your dysfunctional relational patterns and gaining self-awareness, you can begin to break free from the cycle of codependency and embark on a journey toward healthier, more fulfilling relationships. 

Remember, healing is a process,

and every step taken toward greater self-awareness and empowerment is a step in the right direction. Rewiring your mind to help you develop a healthier relationship with your own self and others is an essential step I can help you with thanks to therapeutic methods focused on dialoguing with your subconscious mind.

If you want to learn more about my transformational and awakening method of therapy and coaching, do not hesitate to contact me via email @ Jasmin Nagnoug or jump on a free discovery call with me by clicking the link below:

And as always take care of YOU!

Yasmina Nagnoug Mejai

Transforming with Jasmine

Please let me know if this article is helpful. Your comments below are always welcome!

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