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Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Darlene Lancer Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s the author of Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and six ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind - Become Assertive and Set Limits, Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People, and Freedom from Guilt and Blame - Finding Self-Forgiveness, available on her website, and Amazon. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 28 years and coaches internationally. She’s a sought-after speaker in media and at professional conferences. Her articles appear in professional journals and Internet mental health websites, including on her own, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on, Soundcloud, Twitter @darlenelancer, and at

Articles by Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT:

  • Do I Have to Lose Me to Love You?
    24 Apr 2018

    As codependents we lose ourselves in relationships, unaware that losing our Self is the greatest despair. When the relationship inevitably ends, it’s devastating because we are lost. We lack autonomy […]

  • Discovering Your True Self — Who You Really Are
    27 Mar 2018

    Codependents often wonder what is normal. They feel insecure and wonder how others perceive them. Many tell me they don’t really know themselves. They’ve become people-pleasers, editing what they say […]

  • 5 Mistakes to Never Make with an Abuser
    27 Feb 2018

    Abuse is about having power over someone. Abusers typically want to feel superior, to control and dominate. To them, communication is not about understanding. It’s a win-lose game. They use […]

  • The Psychology of Romantic Love
    22 Jan 2018

    Most everyone wants to fall in love, especially codependents. To us, love is perhaps the highest ideal, and relationships give our lives meaning and purpose. They enliven and motivate us. […]

  • 5 Red Flags and Blind Spots in Dating a Narcissist
    08 Jan 2018

    People are drawn to narcissists because they can be charming and charismatic. In fact, one study showed that their likable veneer was only penetrable after seven meetings. I’ve had a […]

  • Signs of Gaslighting and the Cost
    01 Jan 2018

    Gaslighting is a malicious form of mental and emotional abuse, designed to plant seeds of self-doubt and alter your perception of reality. Like all abuse, it based on the need […]

  • Male Sexual Shame and Objectification of Women
    13 Dec 2017

    As the revelations about male sexual harassment and assault continue, many men are surprised at its pervasiveness, but women are not. Even if never overtly harassed or assaulted, they’ve experienced […]

  • Narcissus and Echo: The Myth and Tragedy of Relationships with Narcissists
    25 Nov 2017

    Narcissus and Echo were tragic Greek characters in a story told by the Roman poet Ovid in Metamorphoses. This poignant myth crystallizes the tragic problem of relationships with narcissists. Sadly, […]

  • When a Narcissist Is Also Codependent
    10 Sep 2017

    Writers often distinguish narcissists and codependents as opposites, but surprisingly, though their outward behavior may differ, they share many psychological traits. In fact, narcissists exhibit core codependent symptoms of shame, […]

  • The Trauma of Children of Addicts and Alcoholics
    02 Aug 2017

    Living with an addict (including alcoholics1) can feel like life in a war zone. The addict’s personality changes caused by addiction create chaos. The family dynamics are organized around the […]

  • 4 Self-Care Techniques that Can Change Your Life
    28 Jun 2017

    Our thoughts are powerful — for better or worse. Thoughts can set off chain reactions that build self-esteem or undermine it. Authority over the mind is the ultimate power. “Mind is […]

  • 6 Steps to Being Authentic
    09 Jun 2017

    Authenticity is the opposite of shame. It reveals our humanity and allows us to connect with others. Shame creates most all codependency symptoms — including hiding who we are, sacrificing our […]

  • Marriage After Sobriety
    06 May 2017

    When long-awaited sobriety finally arrives, partners expect their past relationship problems will disappear. Often, there is a “honeymoon” period when they’re on their best behavior and reaffirm their love and […]

  • What Triggers You?
    03 Apr 2017

    Getting “triggered” is an opportunity to heal and grow. The more hurts we’ve endured and the weaker our boundaries, the more reactive we are to people and events. Codependents are […]

  • Codependency is Based on Fake Facts
    01 Mar 2017

    Codependency is based on a lie. Its symptoms develop to cope with the deep, but false and painful belief — that “I’m not worthy of love and respect.” In the […]

  • Codependency Causes Anger and Resentment: 8 Tips on Anger Management
    21 Feb 2017

    Managing anger is essential to success in work and relationships. Codependents have a lot of anger they don’t know how to manage it effectively. They’re frequently partner with people who […]

  • Relationship Killers: Anger and Resentment
    18 Feb 2017

    Anger hurts. It’s a reaction to not getting what we want or need. Anger escalates to rage when we feel assaulted or threatened. It could be physical, emotional, or abstract, […]

  • The Cost of Secrets and Lies
    15 Jan 2017

    Trust is a fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships – sometimes irreparably. We all tell “white lies.” We say “I’m fine,” when we’re […]

  • Dreams: Your Inner Guidance
    13 Dec 2016

    Dreams are far more than fantasies and wishes. They reveal inner truths, and expose incorrect conscious attitudes and resolve conflicts, providing a healing and self-regulating function. If you are inflated, […]

  • Codependency Addiction: Stages of Disease and Recovery
    05 Dec 2016

    Codependency has been referred to as “relationship addiction” or “love addiction.” The focus on others helps to alleviate our pain and inner emptiness, but in ignoring ourselves, it only grows. […]

  • Are You Dealing with a Sociopath or a Narcissist?
    13 Nov 2016

    People loosely call others narcissists, but there are nine criteria, five of which are necessary to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The following summary diagnosis is controversial: Narcissism exists on […]

  • The Challenge of Forgiveness
    03 Sep 2016

    Forgiveness can sometimes feel impossible or even undesirable. Other times, we forgive only to be hurt again and conclude that forgiving was foolish. Both situations arise from confusion about what […]

  • Codependency, Addiction, and Emptiness
    06 Aug 2016

    Emptiness is a common feeling. There are distinct types of emptiness, but it’s psychological emptiness that underlies codependency and addiction. Whereas existential emptiness is concerned with your relationship to life, […]

  • Sons of Narcissistic Fathers
    14 Jun 2016

    Sons of narcissistic fathers are driven by lack of confidence. Raised by a self-centered, competitive, arrogant father, they feel like they can never measure up or be enough to garner […]

  • Trauma and Codependency
    23 May 2016

    You can make significant strides in overcoming codependency by developing new attitudes, skills, and behavior. But deeper recovery may involve healing trauma that usually began in childhood. Trauma can be […]

  • How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions: 5 Tips
    17 May 2016

    Why bother to make resolutions and then feel disappointed or guilty for breaking them? Do you get excited and resolve to change, but within days or weeks lose interest and […]

  • Co-Dependency: Put the “I” in Independence
    17 May 2016

    Where is your power center? Is it in you or in other people or circumstances? Paradoxically, controlling people often believe that they don’t have control over their lives or even […]

  • Symptoms of Codependency
    17 May 2016

    Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It […]

  • How Insecurity Leads to Envy, Jealousy, and Shame
    17 May 2016

    Envy, jealousy, and shame are inextricably intertwined. Envy and jealousy are primal emotions that frequently overlap. They’re commonly first felt in the form of sibling rivalry and Oedipal longings. A […]

  • Why Boundaries Don’t Work
    17 May 2016

    Has setting limits not worked? Despite your efforts, are your boundaries often ignored? It’s frustrating, to say the least, but it’s not always the other person’s fault. Here’s why and […]

  • Dealing with a Passive-Aggressive Partner
    17 May 2016

    Passive-aggressive people act passive but express aggression covertly. They’re basically obstructionists who try to block whatever it is you want. Their unconscious anger gets transferred onto you, and you become […]

  • How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
    17 May 2016

    Codependency causes much unhappiness. Research shows that codependency is learned in families and passed on generationally. It prevents the development of healthy, independently functioning individuals. When parents are codependent, codependency […]

  • Donald Trump and the Narcissistic Illusion of Grandiosity
    17 May 2016

    Donald Trump has grown an empire of wealth and power, but is it enough? He admits that it isn’t the money that motivates him (The Art of the Deal, 1987). […]

  • Chronic Depression and Codependency
    17 May 2016

    Dysthymia, or chronic depression, is a common symptom of codependency; however, many codependents aren’t aware that they’re depressed. Because the symptoms are mild, most people with chronic depression wait 10 […]

  • The Dark Side of Loneliness
    17 May 2016

    Many people, especially codependents, are haunted by inner loneliness. Twenty percent (60 million) of Americans report that loneliness is the source of their suffering. In fact, our emotional reaction to […]

  • Do You Love a Narcissist?
    17 May 2016

    It’s easy to fall in love with narcissists. Their charm, talent, success, beauty, and charisma cast a spell, along with scintillating conversation, compliments toward and maybe even apparent interest in […]

  • 9 Tips to Cope with Holiday Depression
    17 May 2016

    The stress of the holidays triggers sadness and depression for many people. This time of year is especially difficult because there’s an expectation of feeling merry and generous. People compare […]

  • 5 Tips on How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions
    17 May 2016

    Why bother to make resolutions and then feel disappointed or guilty for breaking them? Do you get excited and resolve to change, but within days or weeks lose interest and […]

  • Recovery from Codependency
    17 May 2016

    Codependency is often thought of as a relationship problem and considered by many to be a disease. In the past, it was applied to relationships with alcoholics and drug addicts. […]

  • Understanding & Coping with the Christmas Blues
    17 May 2016

    The stress of the holidays triggers sadness and depression for many people. This time of year is especially difficult because there’s an expectation of feeling merry and generous. People compare […]

  • Picking up the Pieces After the Betrayal of Cheating
    17 May 2016

    It must be cellular: Men and women automatically feel humiliated when their partner cheats, even though they themselves have done nothing to be ashamed of. Too often, people feel embarrassed […]

  • Perfectionism’s Trap: Matthew McConaughey’s Impossible Chase
    17 May 2016

    Perfectionism is an addiction, meaning we’re repeatedly unable to stop our perfectionist behaviors. Like other addictions, perfectionism varies in severity and can have negative consequences. It harms our self-esteem, makes […]

  • Substance Abuse: The Power of Acceptance
    17 May 2016

    Accepting reality enables us to live in reality. What does this mean? When life pleases us and flows in accordance with our needs and desires, we don’t think about acceptance. […]

  • Obsessions and Addiction
    17 May 2016

    This article isn’t meant to address obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is a mental disorder affecting one percent of adults. It starts in childhood and is believed to have a genetic […]

  • Are You a People-Pleaser?
    17 May 2016

    Everyone starts out in life wanting to be safe, loved, and accepted. It’s in our DNA. Some of us figure out that the best way to do this is to […]

  • Power, Control & Codependency
    17 May 2016

    Power exists in all relationships. Having power means to have a sense of control, to have choices and the ability to influence our environment and others. It’s a natural and […]

  • Affirm Your True, Authentic Self
    17 May 2016

    Every time you affirm your true, authentic self, every cell in your body cheers “Yes!” Every time you negate yourself or allow others to do so, it has negative biological […]

  • Low Self-Esteem is Learned
    17 May 2016

    Low self-esteem is learned — learned, inaccurate information that you’re in some way not enough, that you don’t matter, that your feelings are wrong, or that you don’t deserve respect. […]

  • Are You an Enabler?
    17 May 2016

    Enabling is a term often used in the context of a relationship with an addict. It might be a drug addict or alcoholic, a gambler, or a compulsive overeater. Enablers, […]

  • Recovery Using the 12 Steps
    17 May 2016

    Most therapists do not realize that the 12 Steps are not merely an antidote for addiction, but are guidelines for nothing less than a total personality transformation. Bill Wilson, the […]