May 27, 2021

Where does Coexistence turn into Codependence? Where is the line crossed?

I always thought if you really liked someone, maybe even loved them, you spent time with them. You wanted to share your life with them. Usually that person will do similar things with you: bike, ski, play music, watch the same programs. So, if the case is you just really enjoy being with each other, how do you know if you are being codependent?

The lines are blurred. How is it that it can go from healthy relationship with someone who has the same interests, to unhealthy codependence?




  1. excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction

I think people throw around the label of Codependent too much today. People get suspicious of a relationship where two people genuinely enjoy each other’s company. There must be something wrong there, right? One person in the relationship is cooking for that other person? One person is driving the other to a doctor’s appointment? Too clingy. Codependence.

There is much more to this term than everyday clinginess. Codependent relationships are far more extreme than this. A person who is codependent will plan their entire life around pleasing the other person, or the enabler.

In its simplest terms, a codependent relationship is when one partner needs the other partner, who in turn, needs to be needed. This circular relationship is the basis of what experts refer to when they describe the “cycle” of codependency.

The codependent’s self-esteem and self-worth will come only from sacrificing themselves for their partner, who is only too glad to receive their sacrifices.

So there is Dependency and Codependency.

Codependency: Losing yourself in the relationship. Not having an identity other that “so and so’s significant other”. Unhealthy expectations. May stop seeing friends and family. Can be both people or just one person.

Dependency: Relationship is a priority but their friends and family are not left behind. They still have their own identities and are ok not being with each other 24/7

I have been in a relationship where my lover was codependent. It is frustrating because I basically called her out on it and she acted shocked that I thought that way… and then didn’t change her behavior at all. She felt betrayed by me when I needed time away from her, or wanted to be with my friends, or just have alone time. It is what inevitably ended our relationship.

The non-codependent person in the relationship can sometimes take advantage of it, knowing they can get whatever they want from that person. Which makes it that much more dangerous. Put in the wrong hands this power can destroy lives. I’m not being hyperbolic here. I have seen the control put on someone and abused by some jerk to get what he or she wants.

Finding a healthy, loving, equal partner in a relationship without losing your sense of self should be the goal. There are so many emotions and energy flowing between two people that change daily, hourly, by the second, it’s very hard to keep track and stay in the flow of a 50/50 relationship but in the end I believe it’s worth every second of work you put into it.

Written by Corey Smaller Follow me on Instagram