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What is Co-Dependence?

My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.

My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

Your struggle affects my serenity.

My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.

My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.

My mental attention is focused on protecting you.

My mental attention is focused on manipulating you. (To do it my way).

My self esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

My self esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.

Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.

Your behavior is dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.

I am not aware of how I feel, I am aware of how you feel.

I am not aware of what I want—I ask what you want. I am not aware—I assume.

The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.

My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.

I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.

My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.

I put my values aside in order to connect with you.

I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.

The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.

Typical Characteristics

We assume responsibility for other's feelings and/or behaviors.

We feel overly responsible for others feelings and/or behaviors.


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We have difficulty in identifying feelings—am I angry? lonely? sad? happy? joyful?

We have difficulty in expressing feelings—am I feeling happy? sad? hurt? joyful?

We tend to fear and/or worry how others' may respond to our feelings.

We have difficulty in forming and/or maintaining close relationships.

We are afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.

We are perfectionists and place too many expectations on ourselves and others.

We have difficulty making decisions.

We tend to minimize, alter or even deny the truth about how we feel.

Other people's actions and attitudes tend to determine what we say and do.

We tend to put other people's wants and needs first.

Our fear of other's feelings (anger) determines what we say and do.

We question or ignore our own values to connect with significant others.

We value others' opinions more than our own.

Our self-esteem is bolstered by outer/other influences.

We can not acknowledge good things about ourselves.

Our serenity and mental attention is determined by how others are feeling and/or behaving.

We tend to judge everything we do, think or say harshly, by someone else's standards. Nothing done, said, or thought is "good enough."

We do not know or believe that being vulnerable and asking for help is both okay and normal.

We do not know that it is okay to talk about problems outside the family; or that feelings just are—and it is better to share them than to deny, minimize, or justify them.

We are steadfastly loyal—even when the loyalty is unjustified—and often even personally harmful.

We have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.

next: Open-Heart Sharing

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 7). What is Co-Dependence?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/serendipity/what-is-co-dependence

Last Updated: August 7, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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