December 19th, 2013   •   Comments Off on Co-Dependence   

With friends and family over the holidays, unhealthy relationships brimming with co-dependence are likely. Thought a quick tutorial of co-dependent basics might be helpful.


  • We feel personally responsible for the happiness of someone else.
  • “If you’re happy, I did something good. I rock!”


  • We  feel personally responsible for the sadness of someone else.
  • “If you’re sad, I did something bad. I suck!”


  • We feel personally responsible for the anger of someone else.
  • Anger brings much greater complexity in conflict with blame, guilt, and fear.
  • “If I talk about how I feel, it upsets them, so I just don’t talk.”
  • “If I get blamed all the time, I fight back.”

One person saw it so clearly, “If I’m happy, they’re happy. If I’m sad, they’re sad. If I’m angry, they’re angry. It’s like I have a shadow.”  

Co-dependence is draining when it’s negative; we are left feeling powerless and defeated. When it’s positive, however, it is energizing; we are left feeling significant and valued.

It’s common. It doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed. See the pattern. Do something different.

It’s great to have someone to turn to for support and know we can survive if they don’t have it to give.