heak codependent relationships
When you love someone, do you feel responsible for their choices? When you’re in a relationship, do you feel overly responsible for the other person’s decisions and actions?
Do you ever feel like you’re doing more than your share of the work (overgiving or overdoing)? Do you feel like the other person’s outcome is your outcome? Do you find yourself in relationships with people who need saving?
If you’re nodding your head yes, then today’s episode is for you. In it, I’ll be talking about what a codependent relationship is, the symptoms and signs of codependency, and things you can do to be healthier and more fulfilled in all of your relationships.


A codependent relationship is a very specific kind of dynamic. As a recovering codependent myself, I know that when you’re in it, it feels like everything you’re doing for others is to be helpful, loving, and giving. But if you often feel exhausted, depleted, and maybe even resentful because you find yourself over-functioning and trying to control choices and outcomes for others, I invite you to keep reading.

Symptoms of codependent behavior can look like you feeling overly responsible for other people’s happiness, whether that’s your partner, your children, your friends or even a coworker. It can look like doing things for others and overgiving because you are seeking approval outside of yourself. Codependency can show up as over-involvement in others’ wants, desires, decisions, and drama.

In last week’s episode, I talked about secondary gain and gave you strategies (and a cheat sheet!) to help you get to the bottom of what you’re gaining from staying stuck in any kind of unhealthy situation. Secondary gain absolutely comes into play when it comes to codependent relationships. If you find yourself always having to “save” someone in your life with a broken wing, ask yourself: what am I gaining from this?

It could be that the interaction makes you feel important, needed or helps you to feel like you’re in control. The truth is that when we over-involve ourselves and over-function in a relationship (even if we have the best intentions), what we’re doing is robbing that other person of the consequences of their own actions–that’s how we learn as human beings. However, when you’re in a situation like this, it becomes a dance of over-functioner and under-functioner, and that isn’t helping anyone.

Do you feel like you’re doing more and giving more than you should be?

As in, are you doing things for other people in your life that they really should be doing for themselves? If you’re still doing your kid’s laundry at 30, take a closer look at your behavior and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Infantilizing your teenagers or adult children may come from your desire for them to continue to need you when they’re grown, and that’s not healthy.

Another red flag of codependency is that your mood is directly impacted by the people in your life. Here’s an example: let’s say you’re in a great mood and your partner (or your cranky teenager) comes home in a rotten mood. Does your great mood go out the window? Do you immediately shift into “fix it” mode? Like it’s your responsibility to make them feel happy again?

When you’re codependently attached to someone, you might make excuses for their bad behavior. I call this, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” and it can be a slippery slope if you’re in a relationship with a person with addictive personality traits or behaviors. These lies could be telling yourself about things like, “Oh…it’s not that bad” or “He/She doesn’t drink that much…” or “He/She had a really bad day…”, or covering for them at work if they don’t show up or continually bailing them out (sometimes literally).

[tweetshare tweet=”Enabling action is born out of codependency. ~Terri Cole” username=”zicBXjtZY2a4)ER(TQ)ubwd2tO*okR@W:1:18″]

You might feel like you’re protecting the ones you love, but if any of these scenarios resonate with you, I want to tell you that continuing to do so many things that you don’t want to do but feel like you must do and never saying anything about it is not doing a service to you or the relationship or the other person.

What ends up happening is that there’s only one place that all of this behavior can lead to. It leads to bitterness. It leads to having the martyr syndrome because you’re giving from an unhealthy place. It isn’t giving because you’re being loving, it’s giving because you’re driven to control the outcome and the experience for another person. It isn’t yours to control. I don’t want you to continue down this path and basically sacrifice your life in this way.

So what can you do to heal?

If you haven’t yet, please watch this week’s video above. I promise you, it’s full of my best insights on stepping out of the codependency dance and stepping into the kind of healthy behavior that will vastly improve the quality of your relationships and your life.

Then, I’ve created a worksheet for you with my very best tips for healing from codependent relationships, and you can download it right here. It covers everything from finding the original injuries to taking inventory of the things you want to stop doing for others, to resources for getting help, to raising your boundary IQ so you can start to say no with ease and grace.

It is possible to get healthier and to be healthier in a relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to end the relationship as there are changes you can implement that will alter your 50% of the relationship dance, so even though it may seem a little overwhelming to make changes, just know that I got you. Just keep watching. Keep asking questions, keep reading, and know that you deserve healthy love. You are lovable right now. You are valuable right now in your life, no matter what you’ve experienced.

You don’t have to work yourself to death solving other people’s problems to be worthy of love. You’re worthy of love by simply existing. You’re already here, so if you liked today’s episode, please share it with people in your life who you think might benefit from it.

Ladies, if you haven’t joined my Real Love Revolution Facebook Group, please do! It’s free and your Real Love Tribe is waiting for you on the inside. Click right here to join us!

You’ve got this, and I’ve got you.

As always, take care of you,


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  1. Terri,
    I follow Jayson’s work and I am feel so blessed that you 2 teamed up so I could be lead to you! The timing of the holiday boundaries was so divinely times and I listened to it on my drive to my parents house in Arizona. I am currently working the steps in co-dependent no more workbook by Melody Beattie. I have been in therapy for almost 2.5 years since my ex-husband and I separated and now it is time for me to learn how to maintain boundaries and stop my unhealthy helping.

    I am excited to begin following you! Blessings!

  2. Needed this SO much right now – TY! Follow all your work. You have placed me on the road to healing, therapy(just started) and many other mind opening things. So in this video above – i watched a few times – that old cliche feeling “its so nice to feel needed” I guess isn’t true or is co dependent. i fit every category and am learning now, at 47 what real love is or what it should be(yet to experience it myself) and delving into many childhood issues. but that resonated b/c even as an adult i equate not feeling needed=he doesnt love me. wow like an alarm just went off. its me thriving on the being needed. THX for opening eyes. Also as a mom to boys (13) and (15), divorced, we are VERY close and open and im wondering the fine line of letting them do things for themselves vs/ me doing them? i am aware of that and push them to fix their own problems, esp. at school and as you said give them the tools /life skills to succeed later on, w.o my help. Summer camp is key for that too – 4 weeks of no parents. But is it still ok for them to “need” me and for me to at least know Im “always there”. I recently read an article (online) about attachment styles and how we as adults attach to others early on in relationships and its directly correlated with the attachment we had with our own mothers for 1-2. fascinating. TY Terry, so much. xo

  3. Hi Terri, I resonated with most things you mentioned. Indeed all of your videos have helped me realise of most unconscious dynamics that I was creating in my life which were not helping at all.

    Reflecting back I realised codependency was learnt from my mother. But also from my grandmother who is a real codependent. I was wondering whether the origin of codependency dates from those times where women were economically dependent on their husbands, responsible for growing up children, making their husbands happy, and all that sort of thing. This is what indeed my grandmother experienced.

    I would just like to know your thoughs on this.

    Much love <3

  4. Hello Terri:

    I found you through a You tube video, while trying to find answers to why my marriage failed… and why after my former spouse has admitted to be an addict with multiple affairs, I keep begging him to come back.. well your videos, this specially this one, has brought so much light to understand the way I am functioning. I grew up on a very abusive home, and unfortunately i wasn’t able to find help sooner, so I could have real love in my romantic relationships. Are there any good books that can help to build boundaries if you have never have some? I have hope i can learn to love my self and learn what true love is. Thank you!!

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