Can a Codependent Relationship Be Saved? With 50+ Tips (According to Experts)

Codependence is often characterized by excessive helping, clinging, and controlling behavior, and it can be tough to break free and heal from this cycle of unbalanced dynamics.

But is it possible to fix this kind of relationship? Can it be saved, or are you doomed to a life of misery?

If your looking for answers, you’ve come to the right place. Experts provided their insights on the matter along with tips to help you create a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

John F. Tholen, PhD

John F. Tholen

Cognitive Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind

It could be saved by treatment and couples therapy

Many dysfunctional relationships could be saved by couples therapy that emphasizes assertive communication, mutual respect, and negotiating reasonable compromise—provided:

  • The relationship has not been severely damaged by domestic violence.
  • Both partners wish to stay together.
  • Each is sufficiently motivated to address their own self-destructive habits.

What is codependency?

Codependency is a type of addictive disorder in which one partner so excessively values their relationship with the other that they tolerate and even facilitate(or “enable“) unreasonable, often self-destructive, behavior on the part of their partner. 

The partner typically displays their own addictive disorder (e.g., alcoholism, drug dependency, compulsive gambling, etc.). The relationship becomes codependent when the “enabled” partner repeatedly engages in self-destructive behavior—and resists efforts to persuade them to stop.

While the “enabling” partner prevents them from encountering all the natural adverse consequences of their counterproductive behavior, often justifying the enabling behavior as acts of “love” when they are more motivated by the greater attractiveness of being a “martyr” than a “failure.”

What are the main signs of a codependent relationship?

As the enabled partner’s self-destructive behavior persists, the enabling partner’s frustration mounts, and they gradually develop symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability, and impairments of emotional control and concentration. 

The relationship often survives until either:

  1. The enabled partner’s self-destructive actions lead to complete disability.
  2. The codependent partner experiences an exhaustive collapse (or “burnout”) due to repeated failure in their attempts to “rescue” their self-destructive partner.

Related: 50+ Signs of a Codependent Relationship

What causes codependency?

Susceptibility to addiction results from a complex interaction between our inherited biology and early life experience. That interplay leaves some of us exceptionally attracted to the comforts and pleasure derived from actions that are inherently self-defeating

We can also be left prone to dysfunctional thoughts—ideas that cause distress without inspiring constructive action.

Although it seems that our feelings and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk—the internal monologue that streams endlessly through our waking consciousness, interpreting our every experience and creating our perspective or “mindset.” 

When dysfunctional thoughts are allowed to occupy the focus of our attention, they invade our self-talk, cause emotional distress, and inhibit productive responding—even though dysfunctional thoughts are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong.

When a person behaves codependently, it is usually because their attention is focused on thoughts such as:

  • “Although my partner’s behavior is intensely frustrating, I’m not sure I could cope without them.”
  • “Without our relationship, I’d probably completely fall apart.”
  • “It’s my duty to stand by my partner—no matter what they do or how it affects me.”
  • “My feeling and wishes are not as important as keeping this relationship alive.”

Dysfunctional thoughts such as these can undermine self-confidence and discourage self-assertion so highly that they prevent us from leaving a relationship even when remaining in it is causing us great emotional pain.

How can a codependent relationship be saved?

When both partners want to save the relationship, treatment can sometimes succeed when both partners recognize that they suffer from an addictive disorder too pervasive to be managed without professional treatment that includes the support of a 12-step self-help support program. 

Related: How to Fix a Codependent Relationship

The enabling partner would need to connect with Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA), the nationwide 12-step organization for codependent individuals. The closest meeting can be found on the CoDA website.

A partner with a substance use disorder would need to seek medical consultation about a possible prescription of a medication that blocks the pleasure caused by abused substances (e.g., naltrexone, naloxone, etc.).

And connect with the most appropriate 12-step program (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

The combination of these two approaches to managing substance use problems has been found more effective than either alone.

A partner with a behavioral addiction (e.g., compulsive gambling, compulsive sexual behavior, etc.) would need to connect with the most appropriate 12-step program(e.g., Gamblers AnonymousSexaholicsAnonymous, etc.).

Only after both partners have established “sobriety” to the satisfaction of their 12-step organization “sponsors” is it reasonable for partners who have been in a codependent relationship to begin couples therapy.

Couples therapy is most likely to be successful when both partners participate in each session because treatment should focus on how they interact with each other. 

The best—and only entirely ethical—model of therapy is one in which the relationship therapist meets exclusively with both partners, and each partner consults a different therapist if they need or desire individual treatment.

Best practices for couples therapy include:

A focus on functional thoughts about each other and the relationship

  • What attracted them to each other
  • What they like about each other
  • The similarities in their attitudes
  • How they meet each other’s needs and wishes
  • How they can please each other more, how they can reward and reinforce each other’s progress
  • How their lives are better together than apart
  • Why they want the relationship to improve and continue
  • Their hopes for the future of the relationship, etc.

A focus on communication

  • Hearing what the other is attempting to communicate
  • Understanding each other’s perspective
  • Expressing feelings and desires assertively (without aggression, threat, or disrespect)
  • Negotiating reasonable compromises

Using instances of conflict as opportunities for instruction and progress

When either partner speaks or acts in a manner that offends or displeases the other during a session, the therapist can explore each partner’s feelings—about the occurrence, elicit expressions of understanding about each other’s perspective and feelings, and elicit ways the situation might have been handled better. 

If one partner’s responses are repeatedly upsetting, the therapist may ask that participant to summarize their partner’s statement and feelings before expressing their own. This forces each partner to be more aware of the other’s wishes and feelings, which is often essential in improving a relationship.

An emphasis on the importance of the relationship as opposed to the partner’s individual wishes and preferences

The goal is to motivate both partners to approach conflict by attempting to negotiate a compromise that both can live with but fails to completely gratify either. The message is that the relationship “wins” when neither individual wins nor loses.

It can be saved if both parties are willing to work on themselves and the relationship

In a codependent relationship, one person usually takes on most of the responsibility for the relationship, while the other relies heavily on them for support. This can lead to an imbalanced and unhealthy dynamic where both people are unhappy.

Codependent relationships often develop over time, and the longer it’s left unchecked, the harder it can be to break free from it. 

Related: How to Break Codependency Habits

But it is possible for codependent relationships to be saved if both parties are willing to work on themselves and the relationship. If you are in a codependent relationship, here are some tips that may help you:

Communicate openly and honestly with each other

This means discussing your needs and wants, as well as your concerns and fears. You should also begin to set boundaries with each other and agree to respect each other’s space. 

It’s essential to be able to communicate openly in a relationship so that both people feel heard and understood.

Seeking professional help can be highly beneficial

If you’re struggling to break free from a codependent relationship on your own, seeking professional help can be highly beneficial. A therapist can help you understand the root of your codependent behaviors and provide guidance on how to change them.

Spend time apart

It’s important to have time away from each other so that you can focus on your individual needs. This can be difficult at first, but it will allow you both to grow as individuals, which can ultimately make the relationship stronger. 

When each of you can focus on your own happiness, it will be easier to come back together and be happy as a couple.

Learn to love yourself

This is perhaps the most crucial step in saving a codependent relationship. If you don’t love and respect yourself, it will be tough to have a healthy and balanced relationship with someone else. 

Learning to love yourself means accepting yourself for who you are, your flaws and all. It also means taking care of yourself emotionally and physically. When you can do this, you’ll be in a much better place to have a healthy relationship.

Be patient

Changing the dynamic of a codependent relationship takes time, and it won’t happen overnight. Both parties need to be committed to working on themselves and the relationship. 

Be patient with each other and yourself as you work through this process. When you’re able to let go of the need for instant gratification, you’ll find that the rewards are much greater in the end.

Jocelyn Hamsher, LPC, CST

Jocelyn Hamsher

Professor and Course Creator | Licensed Professional Counselor, Courageous Living AZ

It is possible but requires an intentional, deliberate action

Codependent relationships can be challenging. Between the over-reliance on others, the lack of self-identity, and blurred boundaries, creating a healthy dynamic requires intentional, deliberate action, but it is possible. 

So, how do we change a codependent relationship?

Identify areas of codependence in the relationship

First, we need to identify areas of codependence in the relationship. 

  • Do we engage in people pleasing at the expense of our happiness? 
  • Are we a chameleon and camouflage into the person we are around? 
  • Do you struggle to be alone and not with the other person? 

If you are unsure how you engage in codependency, has an expansive list of ways codependence can manifest. Review the list and notice which you relate to. 

Engage in self-discovery 

Then, we need to engage in self-discovery to help us figure out why we are engaging in codependent behaviors, heal associated trauma and improve self-esteem. 

The “why” will help us understand the motivation behind our behavior, which can help us learn healthier ways to get our needs met. This is often associated with unresolved trauma, often from childhood, which led to self-esteem issues. 

If we struggle with pleasing people, we need to work on getting to know ourselves better and what we like and want so that we can voice differences of thought or opinion. We also need to explore where we learned to get our worth and value through other esteem and approval so we can heal those wounds. 

If we tend to morph into those around us, we need to learn who we really are and what we really like. Like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, we need to sit down with all the different types of eggs and see which one we really like. 

We need to explore our preferences, our wants, and needs, as well as the associated trauma. 

Set boundaries around what we are and are not willing to engage in 

If we are the partner of a codependent and want to work on that, start by setting boundaries. Set boundaries around what we are and are not willing to engage in moving forward and the changes that need to happen in the relationship. 

Also, we need to explore how we may be enabling the codependent and their dysfunctional behavior and make changes. 

No matter the codependent behaviors, healing is possible for both the individual and the relationship. You are worth it!

Dr. Ketan Parmar

Ketan Parmar

Psychiatrist and Mental Health Expert, ClinicSpots

You can save your codependent relationship if you put in the effort to make it happen

If you find yourself in a codependent relationship, there is hope for you both. Many people in a codependent relationship don’t even know what it means. This is because it’s not as common knowledge as other unhealthy relationships, like a narcissist and their victim. 

In fact, most people have no idea why their relationship is so unhealthy or what to do about it. 

You may be reading this article because you want to save your codependent relationship, but you’re unsure how to do that. After all, being in a codependent relationship means that you have been unable to maintain any sense of healthy boundaries thus far. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the future!

What is codependency?

A codependent relationship is a relationship where one or both partners depend on each other in unhealthy ways. 

It is often a relationship between two people who are co-addicts. This means that each person contributes to the problem, and neither person can break the cycle alone. Often, one person will cause the problem, and one person will be the solution. 

It is essential to recognize this in your relationship. If you are in a codependent relationship, you need to understand what codependency is and how to save your relationship. 

Acknowledge that there is a problem

The first step to saving your codependent relationship is to acknowledge that there is a problem. If you don’t recognize that there is a problem, then there will never be a solution. 

To recognize a problem, you need to self-evaluate and examine your relationship to see if it matches any of the signs of a codependent relationship. 

Talk to your partner about it

Once you have recognized that your relationship is codependent, you need to talk to your partner about it. You can’t just pretend that everything is fine or that you don’t see the problem. You need to open up a dialogue so that you can find a way to solve it. 

Become aware of your needs and boundaries

You must become aware of your own needs and start setting boundaries. You have to take care of yourself and only allow the people into your life who will help you and not harm you in the process.

If you want to save your codependent relationship, you have to make some significant changes. You have to change your relationship with your partner, and you have to change your relationship with yourself. 

It isn’t something that will happen overnight, but it can happen if you’re both committed to the process. 

It all starts with communication. You have to learn to communicate with each other openly and honestly so that you can put your feelings out there without attacking each other. It’s not an easy process, but it’s definitely worth it.

If you’re in a codependent relationship, you must identify and work to improve it. It can be a challenging process, but there is help out there. 

You don’t have to go through this alone. Many people have been where you are now and have become stronger on the other side. You can save your codependent relationship if you put in the effort to make it happen.

Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII

Steve Carleton

Executive Clinical Director, Gallus Detox

A codependent relationship can be saved but it will require work from both parties

The first step is recognizing that codependency exists and that it is affecting the relationship. Once that is acknowledged, both partners must be willing to change their behaviors. 

By that, I mean both parties must be open to communicating honestly, setting boundaries, and taking care of themselves emotionally and physically. If both are committed to making these changes, there’s a good chance that they can fix their relationship. 

Codependency is a learned behavior, so it is possible to unlearn and replace it with healthier behaviors.

Below are some warning signs that your relationship may be codependent. I encourage you to seek professional help if you identify with any of these:

  • You feel responsible for your partner’s emotions and well-being.
  • You put your partner’s needs above your own.
  • You have difficulty communicating honestly with your partner.
  • You avoid conflict at all costs.
  • You allow your partner to control or manipulate you.
  • You have trouble setting boundaries in the relationship.
  • You have difficulty taking care of yourself emotionally and physically.
  • Your self-worth is contingent upon your relationship status.

If you’re in a codependent relationship and would want to try to save it, I suggest seeking professional help. 

Codependency can also be a form of enmeshment, where the codependent partner becomes so entangled in their partner’s life that they lose sight of their own needs and identity. 

A therapist can help you identify the signs of codependency, untangle yourself from your partner, establish healthy boundaries, and work with you to change the relationship.

Peer support can also be beneficial. There are Codependents Anonymous groups all over the world that can provide you with support and guidance. This group is a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences, strength, and hope with each other so they can solve their issues and help others to do the same.

Sally Fletcher

Sally Fletcher

Certified Narcissistic Trauma Informed Codependency Coach and Narcissistic Abuse Specialist | Founder, Bloom & Become

You can heal from codependency by becoming self-aware and showing self-love

Codependency is a lack of “self.” It looks like gathering worth from outside influences, seeking approval from others, difficulty making decisions, and setting boundaries.

Codependency is a learned behavior from childhood, often due to trauma within dysfunctional families, and these traits can be passed down through generations. 

These codependent traits serve a purpose in childhood; they help us cope with scary, confusing, and unpredictable family lives. However, they cause us problems in adulthood, as we have learned to abandon ourselves and often find ourselves in unbalanced relationships.

Codependency in a relationship can look like:

  • Over-involvement in your partner’s life
  • Extreme fear of abandonment 
  • Desire to rescue or fix your partner
  • Unhealthy need for recognition/approval 
  • Problems understanding your own basic feelings  
  • Feeling guilty for asserting yourself
  • Feeling the need to control others 
  • Lack of trust in yourself and your partner 
  • Taking responsibility for your partner’s behavior

Tips to turn around a codependent relationship:

Become self-aware and learn to know your authentic self

Healing from codependency involves becoming self-aware, conscious of our unhealthy beliefs, patterns, and coping mechanisms, and learning to know our authentic selves.

Show self-love and compassion

We need to start setting boundaries, using our own voice to communicate our wants and needs, and showing ourselves compassion and self-love. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but practice will teach our nervous system that even though it feels strange, it’s safe to do.

Related: Why Is Self Love Important?

Access trauma therapies to heal your trauma behind the codependency

Accessing trauma therapies to heal the trauma behind the codependency, with modalities such as brainspotting—which is designed to process and release trauma where it is stuck in our body. So you feel worthy of showing up as your true self and expressing your needs without people pleasing and perfectionism.

Haley Riddle, MA, LPC-A

Haley Riddle

Counselor, Mynd Psychiatry

It will require effort from both partners to acknowledge and overcome behaviors

Codependency can be seen in romantic relationships as well as friendships. Behaviors of codependency include:

  • Making excuses for the other person’s bad behavior.
  • Neglecting one’s own responsibilities or health needs.
  • Not allowing the other person to maintain their independence.
  • Enabling their destructive behaviors.

Codependency is unhealthy in all relationships and should be stopped as soon as it is recognized before it worsens. 

Codependency in a relationship can be saved, although this will require effort from both partners to acknowledge and overcome these behaviors. 

Stopping codependency can be challenging to do alone, and it is recommended individuals seek help from a mental health therapist. A therapist can teach those in the relationship how to identify codependent behaviors and encourage each partner to put their needs first. 

By identifying codependent behaviors and working on putting their needs first, both individuals in the relationship will become emotionally healthier and gain self-esteem. 

One way to overcome codependency is to identify the characteristics of a healthy relationship. This is to provide motivation and understanding about what a healthy relationship entails. 

It is also essential to establish and maintain boundaries. A boundary is a limit that establishes what type of behavior you are willing to accept. 

Before establishing boundaries with your partner, consider what is acceptable and important to you. Although you and your partner may have different boundaries, it is important to enforce them to protect your well-being. 

Lastly, make sure to practice self-care and spend time with other friends or family that support you. 

Self-care can help decrease stress and improve one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Self-care can be done through journaling about your experience, exercising, or talking with a friend. It is important to remember that taking care of yourself and your own needs is healthy.

Carrie Krawiec

Carrie Krawiec

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Birmingham Maple Clinic

Codependent relationships can potentially become healthy relationships

  • Evaluate and replace your compulsive caregiving and care-seeking behaviors

You both likely have a fear of being alone or rejected. As a result, one of you takes the caregiving role, feeling needed makes you think the relationship is secure and will not end. Whereas the other plays the care-seeking part; feeling vulnerable and ill-equipped means someone will stay with you. 

Both of you may feel fearful if either takes on the other role. A sick person getting healthy may make the caregiver feel less needed. A caregiver getting sick may make the care seeker feel overwhelmed or unloved. 

Challenge these old beliefs and behaviors and even practice role-playing the alternatives. Remind and reassure each other that people feel positive about themselves and each other in the healthiest relationships. 

Related: Why Do I Need Constant Reassurance in a Relationship?

They feel capableautonomous, and independent while also feeling intimate, vulnerable, and connected. If you only play one part of the equation, your relationship is likely codependent. 

  • Gain awareness of the hidden parts of yourself

You may be mostly caregiving but have a part that needs care, or you may be mostly care-seeking but certainly have confident self-serving creative parts. 

Can you see yourself as a person with multiple facets instead of just one and take action to make other parts of yourself visible to yourself, your partner, and the world. 

Dr. Tashika L. Holloway, LPC, CPCS

Tashika Holloway

Certified Clinical Trauma Professional | Adjunct Professor, Southern New Hampshire University | Owner, TLC Counseling & Consulting Services LLC

It could be saved by focusing on interdependence; you should have your own separate identities

A relationship or an individual in a relationship can be described as codependent when the relationship is more important than the relationship with oneself, making it difficult to prioritize our own needs over others.

Can codependency be treated?

Codependence is usually one of many issues that are addressed in counseling and is part of the overall counseling process.

One of the most important goals is developing increased self-awareness of one’s emotions, wants, needs, and how you show up in relationships. Over time this will help you to focus on yourself instead of prioritizing someone else. 

Related: How to Get to Know Yourself Better

Mindfulness strategies also help focus on self and the present moment vs. trying to control others and future outcomes.

Can the relationship be saved? Yes!

Instead of codependence, focus on interdependence. Partners need to know that you both can and should have your own separate identities to feel free enough to express who you really are and what you really feel.

Partners can practice detachment, finding a balance between feeling responsible for the other’s emotions and allowing the other to experience their own feelings without trying to control them. 

Develop effective communication skills such as assertiveness training, establishing healthy boundaries, and embracing healthy conflict.

Finally, be open to couples or individual counseling, as issues related to codependence are often rooted in childhood trauma. 

Tamar Blank, Psy.D.

Tamar Blank

Licensed Psychologist | Founder and Director, Riverdale Psychology

If both members are comfortable and satiated with the balance and dynamic

A codependent relationship can work if both individuals’ needs are being met. 

On the outside, it may appear unfair or imbalanced, and it may, in fact, be true, but most importantly, a relationship can succeed and last if both members are comfortable and satiated with the balance and dynamic. 

For instance, if one partner always asks the other partner to cook and does not contribute help in that way, it may work for that couple if they both like how the dynamic feels and balances in other areas.

Joseph Puglisi

Joseph Puglisi

Founder, Dating Iconic

It could be salvaged by actively taking action toward saving the relationship

A codependent relationship is often unhealthy neediness that requires you to jeopardize your mental health and well-being just to please your partner. 

However, if you have noticed that you are in a codependent relationship, you can salvage the relationship with these few tips:

Ask yourself the reason for your action

You should remember that in healing your relationship, you should not always encourage codependency by “saving” them from themselves. 

Before you do anything for them, ask yourself whether it’s coming from a place of love rather than fear of their reaction.

Attune with your feelings

Be more aware of how you feel about how your partner feels. This would help in guiding your thought process.

Enjoy your company

Normalize not needing your partner in your space all the time. Get to spend more time with yourself.

Confront your pain

Don’t hide from uncomfortable situations or channel them into taking care of your partner while neglecting yourself and your true emotions. 

Take back your power of decision-making

Learn how to make decisions, trust your decisions, and ultimately yourself. You should speak up more often and decide for yourself both. 

Allow arguments

It is okay to give room for necessary arguments. Keeping quiet to avoid misunderstandings may be aiding codependency and shutting yourself out. It may be unpleasant, but it is necessary.

Seek your partner’s support

To break the codependency cycle, you must also learn to lean on your partner by asking them for support. You do not always have to be the one helping out; you could start by asking them to pick up groceries or helping with little chores in the house. 

Build healthy boundaries

You should create healthy boundaries when trying to stop codependency. Learn to refuse things if you do not want to do them. Speak up without fear gradually till it becomes a part of you. 

Picture yourself from a loved one’s perspective

Think of yourself this way; if your sister or brother was in your kind of relationship, how would you want them to go about it? This will help in seeing things from a different perspective. 

Going through these changes together as a couple would help fast-track the process as both partners are aware of the codependency and actively take action towards saving the relationship. 

  • Go to therapy
  • Try living separately for a bit to build independence and get clarity and healing
  • Communicate
  • Identify behaviors and actively work against repeating those pattern
  • Leave no room for blame games
  • Take each process one step at a time
  • Give yourself time and space to miss each other truly

Additionally, you should learn to derive happiness individually. When you learn to love yourself correctly, practice self-care, and do what you love and enjoy on your own, you may find having a partner a bonus rather than a necessity.

Sameera Sullivan

Sameera Sullivan

Relationship Expert, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers

Rebalance your relationship by changing your embedded behaviors

In codependent relationships, the codependent one characterizes themselves by the association and will go to any length to keep it, even if it is toxic.

To become essential to their partner, they take on all of the “chores” of the relationship. They believe that by providing all the care, their partner will become reliant on them and never want to leave them. 

If you’re going to rebalance your relationship and make it more healthy and equitable, you may need to work with a couples therapist to change your embedded behaviors. 

You will learn to rebalance your roles under their supervision, making the relationship more give and take for both partners. 

Try the following tips to stop being codependent in your relationship: 

  • Counseling should be pursued.
  • You should learn communication skills that will allow you to express your emotions and desires.
  • Maintain complete transparency with your partner.
  • Make your own choices without consulting with your partner, and be confident. 
  • Determine your goals and stick to them. 
  • Discover how to make yourself happy
  • Do not look to your partner for happiness; instead, create it yourself.

Recognize that expecting your partner to be your everything is unrealistic. This is why making new friends and strengthening your bonds with your family and community is essential.

Stephanie Kelly

Stephanie Kelly

Director, Personal Farewells

It can be saved with the right approach

When two people are codependent, their relationship is often defined by neediness, insecurity, and a lack of boundaries. Codependent relationships can be very damaging, leading to feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and depression. 

If you’re in a codependent relationship, you may feel unable to function without your partner. However, codependent relationships can be saved. With the right approach, both partners can learn to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships. 

Here are some tips on how to keep a codependent relationship:

Share your thoughts and feelings freely

One of the most important things you can do in a codependent relationship is to communicate openly and honestly with each other. This means sharing your thoughts and feelings freely, without fear of judgment or criticism. 

It also means being able to listen to your partner without getting defensive. If you can approach conversations with an open mind and a willingness to compromise, it will go a long way toward helping you resolve conflict and build a stronger bond. 

Set a time to focus on your needs and goals

Another helpful tip is setting aside time each week to focus on your needs and goals. This may mean taking a few hours to yourself to read, exercise, or simply relax. 

Making time for yourself can reduce the pressure you feel to always be available for your partner and help prevent burnout. 

If you find yourselves constantly arguing or in a state of flux, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you identify and work through the underlying issues causing conflict in your relationship. 

With commitment and effort, it is possible to turn a codependent relationship into a healthy and supportive one.

Set boundaries with each other

Another key element in saving a codependent relationship is setting boundaries with each other. This means knowing your needs and communicating them to your partner. 

It also means taking responsibility for your own happiness and not relying on your partner to provide everything for you. Additionally, setting boundaries can help you to avoid getting into a cycle of enabling each other’s bad behavior. 

If you’re unsure how to set boundaries, plenty of resources are available to help you. Just remember that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your relationship.

Seek professional help

In a codependent relationship, both partners may feel they need each other to be happy. This can lead to a feeling of being trapped, and breaking out of the cycle can be difficult. 

If you’re in a codependent relationship, it’s vital to seek professional help. This will give you both the tools you need to learn how to communicate effectively and set boundaries. 

Once you’ve started working on your relationship, you’ll likely find that your codependent tendencies begin to dissipate. However, it’s important to continue seeking professional help even after things have improved, as this will help you prevent the cycle from starting again.

Be patient with each other

Saving a codependent relationship takes time, patience, and effort. It’s essential to be patient with each other as you work through the process. 

Try to avoid putting pressure on each other or yourself. Instead, focus on taking things one day at a time. Remember that even though it may be difficult, building a healthy and supportive relationship with your partner is possible.

Michele Tripple

Michele Tripple

CEO, Confessions of Parenting

It can absolutely be saved when effort is put into recreating that balance

It takes work and some changes over time to manage and come to a healthier frame of mind within the relationship.

Tips for those who struggle with codependency:

Take note of your own needs and fill them. This takes the pressure off the significant other, family member, or friend who is being leaned on. This may take talking to a therapist, listening to a podcast, reading books about emotional intelligence, etc.

Resist the urge to take over your partner’s/family member’s/friend’s responsibilities and realize that they are capable of solving problems and accomplishing their goals on their own.

Take time to learn and understand what your partner/family member/friend wants and needs. They may have felt unheard for a while in the relationship and may feel healthier after having the opportunity to express themselves.

All these things take time and repetition to regain emotional balance and intelligence in a relationship, but it can be worth it when effort is put into recreating that balance.

Amber Dixon

Amber Dixon

Chief Executive Officer, Elderly Assist Inc.

You have to be open to doing the work

I’ve been in a codependent relationship before. I knew it was bad for me, but I didn’t know how to get out. It took me years to realize that it wasn’t just the relationship that was bad for me—it was the person I was in it with.

Now, after working on my own issues and coming out on the other side of it, I feel confident saying that a codependent relationship can be saved if you’re willing to do the work. 

But let’s be clear: You have to be open to doing this work. If you’re not willing to confront yourself and your partner, you’ll never get anywhere.

Here are some tips on how to do that:

Make sure you have a support system in place

Make sure you have a support system in place, friends or family who can help you through the process without taking sides or trying to convince you one way or another about whether or not your relationship is worth saving. 

It’s essential for them not to take sides so they can offer their objective perspective on what’s going on between both parties.

Talk about how your partner makes you feel

Talk about how your partner makes you feel—not just what they do (or don’t), but how they make you feel when they say or do something that hurts your feelings or makes you feel unappreciated. 

For example, if your partner doesn’t remember to take out the trash every time they come home from work, instead of just focusing on the fact that it’s not being done, talk about how it makes you feel when they forget something important like this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to prevent co-dependency in a relationship?

While it’s not possible to completely prevent co-dependency in a relationship, there are steps you can take to encourage a healthy dynamic:

Maintain your identity: Maintaining your interests and identity outside of the relationship is important.

Communicate your needs and feelings: Communicate your needs and feelings openly and assertively while respecting your partner’s needs and feelings.

Set boundaries: Learn to set clear boundaries with your partner and communicate them respectfully.

Support each other’s growth: Encourage and support each other in the pursuit of individual interests and goals.

Seek professional help: A trained therapist can help you develop healthy relationship skills and identify potential problems before they develop into co-dependent behavior.

What can cause co-dependency in a relationship?

Co-dependency can arise for many reasons, for example:

Trauma in childhood: Childhood experiences, such as neglect or abuse, can lead to patterns of co-dependent behavior in adulthood.

Low self-esteem: When a partner struggles with low self-esteem, they may seek validation and approval from their partner, leading to co-dependent behavior.

Unresolved emotional issues: If one or both partners have unresolved emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, this may lead to a co-dependent behavior pattern.

Addiction: If one partner struggles with addiction issues, the other partner may develop a co-dependent behavior to cope or enable their behavior.

Cultural or societal expectations: In some cultures or societies, there may be pressure to put the needs of others above one’s own, which can lead to co-dependent behavior.

How long does it take to recover from a co-dependent relationship?

Healing from a co-dependent relationship can take time and effort. How long it takes depends on the people involved and the severity of the co-dependency. Here are some steps you can take to work toward healing:

Practice self-care: Focus on your own well-being by engaging in activities that make you happy and taking care of your physical and emotional health.

Set boundaries: Learn to set clear boundaries with your partner and communicate your needs and feelings assertively.

Seek professional help: A trained therapist can help you work through your co-dependent behavior and develop healthier communication and coping strategies.

Allow time for individual growth: Allow yourself time and space to pursue your interests and develop your identity outside of the relationship.

What are some examples of healthy relationship behaviors?

Here are some examples of healthy relationship behaviors:

Open communication: Partners in healthy relationships communicate openly and honestly with each other and respectfully express their needs and feelings.

Trust and respect: Healthy relationships are based on trust and respect. Both partners should respect and trust each other’s boundaries, needs, and feelings.

Support and encouragement: Partners in healthy relationships support and encourage each other in their personal growth and individual pursuits.

Personal space: Partners in healthy relationships respect each other’s need for space and time for themselves.

Shared values and interests: Partners in healthy relationships share common values and interests but also respect each other’s differences.

Conflict resolution: Partners in healthy relationships are able to resolve conflicts in a constructive and respectful way.

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Talkspace is an innovative online therapy platform that connects you with licensed therapists, offering accessible mental health support right from your device. With flexible scheduling and a user-friendly interface, it empowers you to manage your well-being anytime, anywhere.