Introduction to Codependency

Codependency is a complex psychological condition that affects an individuals’ ability to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. It often stems from dysfunctional family dynamics and can manifest in various ways. If left untreated, codependency can lead to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion, financial devastation, seething resentment and complete loss of independence. 

In this article, we will delve into the signs and symptoms of codependency, explore its root causes, and provide practical steps for breaking free from codependent relationship patterns. If you would like to know if you have codependency, take the Friel Codependency Quiz here.

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency

Let’s briefly discuss the most common signs and symptoms of codependency, so as to help you better understand codependency patterns.

  • Low self-esteem and excessive need for validation: Codependent individuals often have a poor sense of self-worth and seek external validation to feel worthy.
  • People-pleasing behavior: They have a strong desire to please others at the expense of their own needs and boundaries.
  • Difficulty setting boundaries: Codependent individuals struggle to establish and enforce healthy boundaries in their relationships.
  • Enabling behavior: They may enable others’ unhealthy behaviors, often out of a fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • Neglecting personal needs: Codependent individuals tend to prioritise others’ needs over their own, often neglecting self-care.
  • Intense fear of abandonment: They may experience an overwhelming fear of being left alone or rejected by their loved ones.

Understanding the Root Causes of Codependency

It’s important to understand where patterns of codependency originate from. Here are some common causes:

  1. Childhood experiences: Codependency can be rooted in childhood experiences, such as growing up in dysfunctional families or witnessing unhealthy relationship dynamics.
  2. Lack of emotional support: Individuals who did not receive adequate emotional support in their formative years may develop codependent tendencies as they seek validation and connection from others.
  3. Trauma and neglect: Traumatic experiences, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, can contribute to the development of codependent patterns.
  4. Learned behavior: Codependency can be learned from role models or caregivers who displayed codependent tendencies, leading individuals to replicate those behaviors in their own relationships.

Breaking Free from Codependency: Steps to Recovery

  1. Self-awareness: Recognise and acknowledge codependent patterns in your behaviour and relationships. Take the Codependency Quiz!
  2. Education and self-reflection: Learn about codependency, its effects, and how it may be impacting your life. Engage in self-reflection to understand underlying emotions and needs.
  3. Establish healthy boundaries: Identify and communicate your needs, wants, and limits in relationships. Practice saying “no” when necessary.
  4. Develop self-care practices: Prioritise self-care activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  5. Seek support: Consider joining a codependency support group or seeking therapy to gain guidance and support from professionals and others on a similar journey.
  6. Explore healthy relationships: Surround yourself with individuals who support your well-being and encourage personal growth.
  7. Celebrate progress: Acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and progress as you navigate your journey towards recovery.

Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

  • Identify your values and needs: Understand what is important to you and the boundaries you need to maintain your well-being.
  • Communicate assertively: Clearly express your boundaries to others in a respectful and assertive manner.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and recognise that setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary part of maintaining healthy relationships.
  • Stay consistent: Enforce your boundaries consistently and avoid making exceptions that may undermine their effectiveness.
  • Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals for guidance and encouragement as you establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Seeking Professional Help for Codependency

When you understand codependency you realise that you might need professional support to help identify, challenge and change the unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with codependent patterns.

  • Therapy: Consider individual therapy or counseling with a mental health professional who understands codependency.
  • Support groups: Join codependency support groups, such as Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), to connect with others who understand your experiences.
  • Workshops and seminars: Attend workshops or seminars that focus on codependency and provide tools for recovery and personal growth.
  • Online resources: Utilise online resources, such as articles, books, and podcasts, that offer guidance and insights into codependency recovery (A great read on the topic is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie).


Codependency can hinder personal growth and fulfillment, but with self-awareness, education, and support, it is possible to break free from its grip. By establishing healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking professional help, individuals can embark on a transformative journey towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Remember, prioritising your well-being is essential for breaking the cycle of codependency and embracing a life of self-love and authenticity.

If you have completed the Codependency Quiz and you would like to make an appointment to discuss your results, please reach out via the contact page on this website. 

Michelle xx


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