What’s the Difference Between Codependency and Healthy Interdependence?
UPDATE: Colleen contributed to the article 15 Signs of a Codependent Relationship written by Silvi Saxena, for Choosing Therapy.
Codependency is often defined as a pattern of unhealthy dependence on another person. It includes such traits as poor boundaries, pleasing people, and taking care of others at the expense of one’s own needs. In contrast, interdependence is the healthy balance of independence and interconnection. It involves having healthy relationships with both oneself and others.
Codependent individuals rely heavily on others to define themselves and their worth. This reliance often leads to feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. Those with codependent tendencies tend to avoid personal growth and independence because it makes them vulnerable to abandonment. They may become overly dependent on someone else to make them feel safe and secure, such as a spouse, family member, friend, therapist, or religious leader. On the other hand, a healthy interdependent relationship — one in which both partners are equally responsible for each other’s well-being just as much as their own — allows for mutual trust, support, and respect for each other’s differences.
Can a Codependent Relationship Be Saved?
A codependent relationship can be challenging to maintain. There is usually much giving and taking. One person offers something, and the other accepts it. However, this cycle never ends well. At some point, the codependent person stops giving and starts demanding. The demands get higher and higher until the other person finally gives up. This dynamic can lead to resentment, bitterness, and even anger if left unchecked.
When codependency becomes an issue, it is essential to understand how it affects both parties. You must identify what each party needs to heal themselves. A professional therapist can help identify codependency behaviors and teach ways to improve communication skills. The therapist will help the couple develop healthier boundaries and set realistic expectations. Steps to improve communication include asking open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions, listening actively, and expressing one’s own opinions. If both partners work together to change, a healthy relationship is possible.
The goal of interdependence in the recovery of a relationship is for both people to become more self-sufficient. Both partners must learn to care for themselves before they begin caring for others. You can start by making changes in your daily habits. For example, you might try to practice self-care every day. Think about taking walks, exercising, meditating, journaling, practicing mindfulness, or doing something else that helps you relax and recharge. Codependents often struggle with personal growth because they are so focused on helping others that they neglect their own needs. They may also feel guilty about not being able to meet their partner’s needs. To grow as individuals, codependents must accept responsibility for their actions and stop blaming others.
If you are struggling with codependency, knowing there is hope is essential. Codependency recovery programs exist today that help people work through their codependent patterns. These programs teach participants about healthy ways of relating to others. They also provide tools for recognizing unhealthy behavior patterns. Participants learn to identify and avoid triggers that cause them to act out their codependent patterns.
Seek Professional Help.
Codependents tend to put their own needs last. They may feel guilty if they don’t do what others want. They are often afraid of being alone and need someone else to take care of them. A professional therapist can help identify codependency behaviors and teach ways to improve communication skills.
You can also seek professional help. There are many types of counseling and therapy options available. Some of these therapies focus on helping people understand why they behave and think the way they do. Others focus on changing harmful behaviors. Still, others focus on teaching skills needed to improve one’s relationship with themselves and others.
Your therapist will help you develop healthier boundaries and set realistic expectations. Steps to improve communication with your partner include asking open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions, listening actively, and expressing your own opinions. If you believe you have a codependent relationship, reach out and get the tools you need to build stronger connections with your partner.
Get Support From A Mental Health Professional.
The staff at New Heights Counseling wants you to know that help is available. Call us at (850) 757-1552 to set up an individual or couples session with one of our professional counselors who can help with your relationship concerns. Check out our staff bios on our website at meet our team. Our therapists will walk you through the process of resolving problems, developing healthy communication skills, and creating positive changes in your life and relationship.
Other Mental Health Services Offered At New Heights Counseling
The staff at New Heights Counseling provides counseling for a wide variety of concerns, such as couples and family problems, parenting skills, anger management, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, addiction, abuse, trauma, PTSD, self-esteem, confidence, body image, eating disorders, and many more. We want to help you succeed and live healthier, more productive lives.
Our services are for children, adolescents, and adults, and we offer in-person sessions at our Fort Walton Beach, FL location and online therapy for the state of Florida. We are located on the 2nd floor of WorkSpace Suites at 1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Get directions here on Google Maps or visit our office location page. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM. Evenings/Weekends by appointment. Call (850)757-1552.
Appointment Schedule (Last appointment – 4 PM)
Monday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Evenings/Weekends by Appointment
- Co-Dependency, Mental Health America
- What Are the Signs of Codependency?, Crystal Raypole, PsychCentral
- Welcome Video from New Heights Counseling Founder & Clinical Director, Colleen Wenner
Not Ready For Counseling Yet? Read These Blogs Written by New Heights Counseling Therapists.
- When Should I Seek Counseling?
- What to Expect from Your First Counseling Session
- In Your Relationship, Communication Is Crucial!
- My Marriage – Not Seeing Eye to Eye!
About the Author:
Colleen Wenner is the founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling, where she provides counseling services for individuals struggling with mental health issues. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master Certified Addiction Professional. Colleen is a certified supervisor in Florida and an EMDR trauma-certified practitioner and consultant in training. Colleen is committed to providing excellent client care and services the Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, Destin, and surrounding communities.
Colleen has always advocated for mental health wellness and has dedicated her entire life to promoting awareness among the public. She has been featured on various podcasts such as Practice of the Practice (The #1 Podcast for counselors in private practice), Shrink Think Podcast, and The Salty Christan Podcast, to name a few. She has also contributed to several articles for Yahoo Best Life, Unfinished Man, and UpJourney. Colleen uses compassionate and authentic communication to help clients understand themselves better and feel more confident about their ability to improve their lives.