Emotional Codependency: What Is It?

People who are co-dependent will do anything to make their partners dependent on them. Therefore, their care and concern is not necessarily selfless, but rather unhealthy. In today’s article, we’re going to take a closer look at the topic of emotional codependency.  

Emotional codependency: what is it?

Relationships that are emotionally codependent are not healthy or balanced. In fact, some can even be toxic to the point of origin. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and correct them as soon as possible. With this in mind, we’d like to tell you more about emotional co-dependency, what symptoms to look out for, and what you can do.

What is emotional codependency?

Although the terms are very closely related, codependency is not the same as emotional addiction. In fact, in the case of emotional addiction, we find individuals whose dysfunctional personality drives them to depend on others for happiness.

These people are able to have relationships that are highly toxic and destructive because they are completely dependent on their partners. In other words, they consider their partners an indispensable part of their life, a necessary condition, no matter how bad the relationship is. These people are therefore not autonomous and usually have low self-esteem.

The emotional co-dependency , however, is different. In this case we find people who are dependent on other people’s dependencies. In other words, they are addicted to others’ dependence on them.

Both emotional dependence and emotional codependency pose a relationship problem
Both emotional dependence and emotional codependency are problems that indicate toxic relationships.

This type of dysfunctional relationship can occur in any relationship context (parents / children, friendships, etc.). At the same time, however, it is observed particularly often in couples.

In any case, when it comes to dependent and codependent relationships, we are talking about people who are interdependent. However, we are dealing with two different dynamics.

On the one hand, dependent persons do not know how to get along without their partners. On the other hand, those who experience emotional codependency are addicted to someone else being dependent on them.

This can lead them to overly care for their partners. As tender as this may sound, her motives are not selfless, but rather manipulative. Hence, excessive control, jealousy, and manipulation can result in an unbalanced and toxic relationship .

And as a result, both parties suffer.

The symptoms of emotional codependency

Low self-esteem

Co-dependent people have low self-esteem, just like their dependent partners. In this case, however, they are trying to fill that void or imbalance by trying to feel useful to the person who they believe needs them.

Control over their partner

Co-dependent partners can manipulate their partners and undermine their self-esteem
Codependent people will do everything possible to maintain their relationships, including manipulating their partners and undermining their self-esteem.

Given that their own stability relies on someone else’s need for them, codependents tend to do whatever it takes to maintain that dependency.

Therefore, it is normal for them to constantly control their partners, manipulate them, and even undermine their self-esteem. In this way, they ensure that their partners continue to need them and depend on them.

Need for recognition

Codependent people spend a lot of time and effort being useful to their partners. If they don’t get their will or are not rewarded for their efforts, it can cause them great frustration.

The fear that their partners will stop being dependent on them increases if they don’t get the thanks they seek. In other words, they start to doubt and feel insecure. Therefore, their partners need to tell them how great they are and acknowledge all that they do for them. Codependents need to hear how necessary they are in their partner’s life.

In the absence of that recognition, they can even lapse into an unhealthy punishment dynamic for their partners to understand that they are indispensable.

Co-dependent people feel responsible for the feelings of others

Co-dependent people feel responsible for the feelings of others
Those who are codependent feel overly responsible for their partners’ feelings.

Co-dependent people suffer. The truth is that no one is responsible for another person’s feelings. However, emotional codependency makes individuals feel responsible for their partners’ feelings.

Hence, they may take responsibility for their partner’s feelings and experience great frustration when they cannot make him happy. We should not forget that their goal is to be essential to the life and well-being of their partners. In this sense, they see negative feelings in their partners as a possible threat to their addiction.

Emotional codependency and obsession with one’s partner

These individuals rely on the dependency of others to maintain their self-esteem and fill their emptiness. As a result, they are constantly looking for ways to maintain this addiction and need. That means they may spend a lot of time thinking about ways they can be necessary and useful to their partners, which can lead to an obsession.

In fact, they often forget to take care of themselves and neglect their own needs. Their only priority is to prove how necessary they are and to make their partners dependent.

Treat emotional codependency

Emotional codependency can be addressed in couples therapy
A codependent personality requires both couples therapy and individual therapy to uncover the causes of the problem and treat it.

A toxic relationship between a dependent and a co-dependent must be intervened as soon as possible. With this in mind, both parties need to relearn and realign the way they behave and relate to others. In addition, they must strive to increase their assertiveness and self-esteem and to leave their fears and insecurities behind.

You can achieve this in individual therapy as well as in couples therapy.

  • The first step in this process is realizing that there is a problem. If a person can’t see the problem, it can’t be fixed either.
  • Next, the codependent partner must overcome their fear of being alone. He has to overcome his fear of independence and of not being needed by others. With this in mind, these individuals must give up their over-commitment and concern about changing, controlling, and satisfying others.
  • In addition, codependent people need to relearn how to be helpful. They need to understand that help and care should come from genuine selflessness and should not be a means of manipulating others to meet their own (often hidden) needs. Helping others should be an act of liberation, not a covert attempt to make others more dependent .
  • Typically, people with codependent personalities learn these types of behaviors and attitudes as children. Hence, they need to begin a process of analysis, self-awareness, and correction for the wrong lessons they learned early in life.
  • At the same time, both partners must learn to set boundaries that are a necessary part of any healthy relationship.


People with codependent tendencies need to understand that relationships should be based on freedom and personal choice. Trying to “bind” another person by making them feel like we are essential to their happiness will only lead to problems.

At the same time, it’s not a healthy way to increase your self-esteem.

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