Codependent relationships – what it is and how not to get into them

Anyone can become a hostage of a destructive emotional connection. This is the so-called codependent relationship. They are characterized by such interaction between people, in which one completely dissolves in the other, plunges into his life and problems, forgetting about himself and his needs.

What is a codependent relationship?

Some experts argue that the term “codependency” is acceptable to the loved ones of a person suffering from any kind of addiction. Others consider the concept more broadly: in cases of violation of interpersonal boundaries.

In both cases, the bond between people is so strong that it extends beyond the family into other areas of life. If the relationship falls apart, then all other aspects suffer: work, material well-being, health.

How can codependent relationships be recognized?

codependent relationship

Signs of a codependent relationship:

  1. Lack of your own needs and goals… E.V. Emelyanova notes that in codependent relationships, the boundaries between their own interests and the interests of other people are erased. The codependent directs all his life energy to the partner.
  2. Sense of responsibility… The illusion that you can change a loved one leads to a feeling of responsibility for his fate. “For many people, responsibility means guilt. In fact, we are not to blame for anyone. But no one is to blame for us either“(Quoted from the book” Crisis in Codependent Relationships “).
  3. Feeling of fear… The thought of breaking the connection is deeply disturbing, and any attempt to change this relationship leads to a feeling of inner emptiness and loneliness. The codependent is confident in advance that change is impossible.
  4. Doing good… Psychologists joke that the codependent tries to do good by force when no one asks for it. The codependent tries to create self-worth in the eyes of others by playing the role of the Victim or the Rescuer.

Why are codependent relationships dangerous?

Stephen Karpman, in his triangle of codependent relationships, illustrated the meaning of this psychological phenomenon. Each corner of the triangle corresponds to a specific role that a person plays in the drama of codependency.

triangle of codependent relationships

Victim – one who always suffers and is unhappy with everything. This role assumes that it is unprofitable for a person to make independent decisions, to try to change the situation for the better, because then there will be no one to feel sorry for him.

Rescuer – the one who will always come to the aid of the Victim, support, sympathize. The main need of a lifeguard is to constantly feel needed. Because of the Rescuers, the Victim constantly receives confirmation of the correctness of his life position.

Pursuer – the one who tries to “stir” the Victim by making demands and calling for responsibility. The main task of the Persecutor is to dominate. The persecutor asserts himself by belittling others.

An example of a triangle of fate is a man who has lost his job. He either finds excuses not to look for other earnings, or goes into a binge. This is the Sacrifice. The wife who makes the daily scandals about this is the Persecutor And a mother-in-law giving a pension to a lazy son is a Lifeguard

The roles played may vary, but this does not diminish the amount of destructive emotions and feelings in persons involved in codependency.

The danger of such a relationship is that all participants in the destructive interaction suffer and no one role is attractive. The actions of partners do not bring any result, do not provide an opportunity to break off codependent relationships in the family, but, on the contrary, exacerbate them.

How to get out of this vicious circle?

a good relationship

Recommendations on how to get out of a codependent relationship:

  1. Give up illusions Understand that excuses and promises of a partner to change something in the current situation have little to do with reality. Better to leave than to fight for something that the other person doesn’t need. Real feelings inspire and develop, not depress.
  2. Confess your powerlessness Realize the fact that you are unable to control someone else’s life.
  3. Think about yourself Start caring, thinking not about another person, but about yourself. Break out of the vicious circle, start feeling responsible for your own life, not someone else’s. Break the triangle of codependent relationships.
  4. Make plans, prospects What would you like from a relationship with a partner? What kind of behavior do you expect from him? What needs to be changed to achieve what you want?

It is important to understand that each person is responsible for his own life. No matter how hard you try, your capabilities are not enough to keep everything under control. This is especially true of codependent relationships with a man who abuses bad habits. Get out of this relationship and live your own life.


  1. O. V. Shorokhova. “Codependency // Life traps of addiction and codependency”, publishing house “Rech”, 2002
  2. E.V. Emelyanova. “The crisis in codependent relationships. Principles and algorithms of consulting “, publishing house” Rech “, 2010
  3. Winehold Berry K., Winehold Janey B. “Liberation from the trap of codependency”, publishing house IG “Ves”, 2011

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