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How to Start Separating Yourself from a Codependent Relationship

Codependent relationships are fraught with pain, resentment, anger and criticism, said Kathy Morelli, LPC, a psychotherapist with a marriage and family counseling practice in Wayne, N.J.

Instead of focusing on themselves, people who are codependent focus on others, such as their partner or parent. They don’t function from their “innate self.”

“The codependent person has a diffuse sense of self and operates from a false self that is organized around the ‘other.’”

7 Comments to
How to Start Separating Yourself from a Codependent Relationship

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  1. This is a great little article. It seems to end a little too early. Steve may or may not be a controlling person. Controlling personalities require co-dependent relationships with others. This makes it very difficult for an individual to maintain any sort of healthy, close relationship with the controller. Controlling people require that you constantly anticipate their needs, read their minds, behave according to their always-changing rules. This atmosphere creates the type of behavior and thoughts described in the article. It’s very important that the co-dependent person detach and create the “bubble.” But some relationships are more toxic than others. I find it profoundly annoying to be in Steve’s position, when I’m with a friend who’s constantly trying to please me, while not discussing her true feelings. But when I’m with a controlling person who wants me to be dependent on him/her, I have a tendency to fight back. This results in the other person becoming truly angry and critical of me. These relationships can be minor–like a Facebook “friend”–or major, like your life partner. The article omits these situational factors. I know it’s about “starting” to separate yourself in a co-dependent relationship, so it’s only an early step in the process. If you have co-dependent issues, keep that in mind. You’ve still got steps ahead of you–and they will be worth every step you take.

    • Do you have any advice on how to get a person (my daughter) to recognise she is co dependant. Im at my wits end and have booked into see a pych but its 3 weeks away and i worry for her safety.

  2. I have a 24 yr old daughter who was in a relationship with a male 2 yrs older. They lived together for approximately 8 months and then she moved out after he use to threaten to kill himself and would drive off. He seems to cry alot and I have heard him verbally abuse her over the phone. Only minutes later when my husband has gone outside to find him completly calm. He has turned up at out house in the middle of winter with nothing but a pair of shorts on at 4.00am and has been fojnd wandering through our hiuse at all hours. My daughter left him but he eventually found out where she lived and he tried breaking in one day when she was alone and she was terrified but wouldnt allow me to call the police. She says he has been diagnosed with bi polar and is on treatment, but im not so sure. My gut tells me he tells her what he thinks she likes to hear..when i ask her why she doesnt run a million miles away she says she cares for him and wants to help him. He wrote to her..supposedly because his therapist told him too. Since then they are having contact. We got her to move 7 hours drive away from him and now this, wondering if he is BPD..or if my daughter is co dependant on him, either way I fear for her life and have no idea how to handle this without offending anyone or getting my daughter off side. I want to tell her to run…but she seems reluctant to listen to anything I say abouthim. His parents are in denial and his sister accused my daughter of stealjng her lap top and spread a rumour around our small country town that my daughter is loopy…My only words lately to my daughter is to warn her about getting into a relationship with a man whose family do jot approve as it makes life a living hell…any advise appreciated

  3. When discussing codependency I’m reminded of how assumptions concerning reality are often missed. To say that codependency is defined as a “focus on others” and “a diffuse self organized around an other” is to assume there is such a thing as a transcendent unitary self. Further, such a self is independently created and a means of establishing true worth or the catch-word “self-esteem.” There is simply no reason to accept these assumptions.

    Attachment research and basic introspection indicates the complete inability for people to exist as autonomous beings, where self is anything but an amalgamation of relationships. The self here is not a unitary being but innately and from the ground-up, a relational one.

    This means co-dependency, generally defined, is an inevitability of human existence. What is better discussed is whether such is healthy or unhealthy as it pertains to individual flourishing. The co-dependency as unhealthy is not whether a person is focused on another but whether such focus allows,for expansion in expression of the multiplicity that is our core. Sometimes this may appear as if the person is “focused on the other” but when considered more closely is actually them relationally expanding their scope of living.

  4. Well said. My definition of codependency in “Codependency for Dummies” is when a person can’t access their innate self, and instead organizes their thinking and behavior around another person, process, or substance – so that also includes other types of addicts. Shame is a core symptom and what you describe is shame anxiety – the anxiety of experiencing the shame associated with rejection and abandonment, which is why codependents are so anxious and trying to read others’ minds. Thanks for another great article!
    Darlene Lancer, LMFT
    Author of “Conquering Codependency and Shame: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

  5. I agree with David. And would add: We are all connected ” unified”. What one does affects the whole. I like the Spiritual concept of the golden light around the aura for protection. I ground and place a protective light around myself everyday. After all, when we engage with others we pick up their energy into our aura’s so it is important to guard and protect yourselves. Being mindful is the same as meditation. This should also be practiced daily. If people would look into Spirituality they would understand that we are simply energy in motion and that we create our present life by our thoughts , actions, and beliefs; the world would go far in the ascension of human consciousness which is our destiny. Science is finally starting to accept Spiritual Concepts eg : quantum physics.

  6. I’m extremely confused why anyone would tell themself their thoughts and feelings aren’t theirs, especially a codependent person who, more than anything, needs to own their thoughts and feelings. Then, of course, the plane and simple facts that one is indecisive (despite the reason) is due to that person’s thought process. And who else could be feeling confusion other than you? Doesn’t it seem more relevant to suggest examining ones thoughts and understanding the content of them? I’m certainly not an expert but found this unhelpful and irrelevant.



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