Shared Chat
Navigating codependency. Define what it is, what causes it, and how it can be fixed. Use **bold text** to highlight important parts.

Codependency refers to an excessive reliance on another person for one's emotional or psychological well-being . It can manifest in various ways, such as constantly seeking approval or validation from others, feeling responsible for other people's emotions or actions, having difficulties setting boundaries, and neglecting one's own needs .

Codependency can be caused by a combination of factors, including upbringing, childhood trauma, learned behaviors, and societal influences . It often stems from a lack of self-esteem and a fear of abandonment . People who have experienced codependency may have grown up in families where their needs were not met or where they were taught to prioritize others over themselves .

To address codependency, it is important to cultivate a healthy relationship with oneself and establish boundaries . This may involve seeking therapy, developing self-awareness, and learning effective communication skills . Building self-esteem, practicing self-care, and embracing personal growth can also be helpful . Recognizing the role of personal responsibility and focusing on individual healing rather than trying to fix others is key .

It's important to note that the concept of codependency has received criticism in the mental health community, and there is no formal diagnosis for codependency . However, the experiences and patterns associated with codependency can still be addressed and worked on in therapeutic settings .

If you or someone you know is struggling with codependency, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can provide individualized guidance and support.

(someone): They couldn't get through their day unless they were absolutely dependent on another person. And so, you know, we already had a diagnosis for over-dependence, and it was never seen to be a need to create one sort of over-dependency light in the psychiatric community. So what actually happened was this huge pop culture, I mean, Codependent No More sold 11 million copies in 26 countries. I mean, it was a huge cultural movement. And what came out of that was, you know, hey, if I picked you up across town and it was going out of my way, I was codependent. You know, anytime I put too much energy into another person, I was a co. And I remember the early 90s, it was like, oh my God, I'm a co, you're a co. So the definition broadened into anyone who allowed themselves to become overly dependent on another person. And that got put into the addiction field by saying that partners and loved ones of addicts are overly dependent on the addict and they need to separate and push the addict away in order to grow. And unfortunately, Chase, that particular way of looking at the world is not how we look at mental health and addiction today. You know, I know just from being a recovering addict that the best way for me to heal is to be in contact with others. That when I move toward relationships, when I go into the 12-step rooms, when I start group therapies, when I engage in relationships, that I begin to heal better. Addicts live in isolation. So if you move them toward relationship, you know that we already know that they're going to get better. And the most important relationships in an addict's life are, of course, their loved ones. They are the most powerful driver.
(someone): Well, first, I think, Chase, if you don't mind, it'd be important to talk about what's wrong with codependency and not why it doesn't work. and why it is a problem, because you don't have to come up with new solutions to things that are resolved. If codependency was the right method, then, so for example, it would have been validated. In other words, there would have been a lot of research to support it. It would have ended up as being a diagnosis. So you could say someone had a codependency disorder, you know? And most of all, when someone has some kind of illness, we have criteria that says, you know, if they're depressed, that means they have five out of seven of these. You know, if they're anxious, they have five seven if they're schizophrenic etc. So the whole like acknowledging a problem a new problem like codependency requires a lot of research and acceptance in the mental health community and that never happened for codependency. There is no research period the end to validate codependency. In fact no research has been done on codependency since 1994. There is no diagnosis nor has there ever been a diagnosis in the U.S. or internationally for codependency. We already had some diagnoses about overdependence, which had to do with someone's inability to function. They couldn't get through their day unless they were absolutely dependent on another person. And so, you know, we already had a diagnosis for over-dependence, and it was never seen to be a need to create one sort of over-dependency light in the psychiatric community.
(someone): Because there's a lot of people who've done a lot of good work with it. And not just, you could maybe go to clergy, you maybe have a family relative who could help you with it. And to help you with your boundaries and to help build up your self-esteem. And you have to earn your way into graduating out of codependency.
Chase Kosterlitz: If someone listening feels like their partner is the codependent partner, how can they bring it up with them to move forward in solving these issues?
(someone): Well, first of all, there's no such thing as a relationship with only one codependent person in it. Codependence is an interactive process that requires participation on both sides. If If one person is overly dependent and the other person is enabling them to be dependent upon them. And there are certain advantages that we can get on either side of that equation from being the one who our partner turns to whenever they need any kind of help rather than turning more to themselves. And there are advantages to being on the other side where you don't have to be the one to figure out how to do things and to get the job done, because you can always turn it over to the other person. And when both people begin to see that they have been colluding in certain ways to co-create this codependent relationship, and then they begin to see what it's costing them personally to indulge in this desire to be an enabler or to be Overly dependent upon the other person. But there are real serious consequences to being in that kind of a relationship in terms of your level of well-being, in terms of your level of resentment that can be accumulated. Because whenever somebody is overly dependent upon another person, there's almost always a certain degree of resentment in that.
Chase Kosterlitz: And let's say this person is kind of a fixer, like they're with someone who they're trying to fix. You know, that seems like a common meme that I read about or I'll come across. And that can certainly be unhealthy. So how do you look at that and distinguish it from, let's say, classic codependency?
(someone): Well, first of all, I think we're meant to lean into each other and we are meant, my vulnerabilities can be filled in by your strengths and my strengths can be filled in by your vulnerabilities in a relationship. So I don't have to be the best me I can be. I can be whoever I am and you can help fill in some of the blanks. And that is sort of anathema to codependency. We should be independent people. people who are our best selves 100% and then together we make 200%. And I look at it more like I'm 75 and you're 75 and sometimes I'm 50 and sometimes, you know, depending on the situations we're in. I think the most important and primary difference that you really have to look at when you consider codependence versus pro-dependence in a healthy relationship is I lean into you and I'm involved with you because I love you. And that is my soul. You are my connection. You are my heart. You are the person I love, whether you're my child or you're my aunt or you're my partner. And so I could never be with you for the wrong reasons because I'm always with you for the right reasons because I love you.
(someone): And so how do we, how do we help to like elevate to heal those and so that we don't have to keep playing out the same cycle in the same pattern? Right? So, so that's the first piece is the enmeshment and the codependency really comes from the conditioning and the messaging that we have gotten from childhood, from society, from church, from everywhere else, like, hey, you, you know, from television, there's something else to complete you, you're not whole onto yourself. And then again, however, our upbringing was, and that's going to that's going to deeply influence how we attract our partner, how we keep our partner, all of those kinds of things, the minute that we can start truly becoming aware of that. And then we get to make a decision and we get to choose. Do I want to stay this way? because you can and people can make it work and people can like have a good life and it could be awesome and their relationship could, you know, have the typical ups and downs and stuff. But maybe it's not like awesome. Maybe it's not like thriving and rich, you know, like it could be. So it's really incumbent upon, you know, hopefully both people in the relationship to be able to say, you know what, I'm noticing this. Let's change it. Let's dive in and do the work. That's where the relationship agreements come in.
Chase Kosterlitz: I want to talk about those and I want to talk about co-creating with our partner. But first, I want to talk about our relationship with ourselves and getting to this place where we feel whole.
Chase Kosterlitz: And then also, if my partner would only do this, then we'll be good, you know, trying to fix them. Let's talk about the latter first, maybe, and getting out of that mindset of trying to fix our partner. It's such a hard place to be, especially if you're self development oriented, you're listening to this podcast, you got all these tools, you want to bring it to your partner and say, Hey, let's do this, this and this. And that can be good. You know, you want to work on the relationship. But I feel like there's a fine line between that and some kind of expectation that that for partner will just change, then we'll be okay.
(someone): Mm hmm.
(someone): Yeah, it's a it's a complex one too, right? Because, um, so there's a couple things that come to mind. One is that if we are always trying to fix our partner, and if we're like, really always try to fix other people. That's kind of the mindset. As you know, I'm going to be happy when I'm going to be happy. If if these kinds of things would just change, then I'll be happy. That's a really good indicator that you're not taking personal responsibility for your life experience. And it's a really to me, it's a cry for the inner self, the cry for help to say, I want to be accepted.
(someone): I love that world. But then if my partner, my spouse has an opioid addiction, and they can't get out of bed because they're so troubled by drugs and they can't seem to get sober. So I go about working three jobs and giving up my recreational activities and gaining weight and being frustrated all the time and all of that stuff. People say to me, you know, what's wrong with you? Why would you stay with that person? Why don't you let them whatever it is or why don't you detach? And I just, in fact, there is something wrong with you. We have a name for it. It's called codependency. And this is the problem that you have because you live with a vulnerable person or because you're just giving a lot in your relationship. And I just think How could it be that caregivers in every other part of our culture are validated and we sing their praises? But in this arena, in the addiction world, if somebody is giving of themselves to help maintain a family or keep a family together or keep what they had with the hope that it will go forward and be better, how could we possibly blame or label that person? I may not love in the most effective ways, but don't ever attack the fact that I love you. And that really is what codependency does. It undermines the relationship by saying, wow, I'm really broken and I'm giving too much to you and I should focus on me. And, you know, love is nice, but I'm too ill to love in a healthy way.
(someone): That's a really good indicator that you're not taking personal responsibility for your life experience. And it's a really to me, it's a cry for the inner self, the cry for help to say, I want to be accepted. There's some part of self that's being rejected. And so there's a projection onto the partner that, hey, you need to be better in order for me to love you, in order to be lovable, in order for our relationship to work. You've got to be better. I'm doing all of these things. And so you can go into blame and so forth. Now, so that's one side of it. it. And it's also true that sometimes our partner is not, they're like not stepping up. And they're not holding up their end of the bargain. And, you know, and so that that's what requires a totally different conversation, which is like, are you in or you out? You know, are you are you committed to being your best self for you, and then I get to benefit from this, you know, from your best self? But are you committed to that? And if you're not committed to that, then, you know, maybe this isn't the relationship that we that we should be in anymore. And so, you know, there's so there's truths in both of those things. The other the other part of like the personal responsibility piece is we always have a role in in our experience, like, no matter what, because each of us
(someone): But that requires kind of like a whole mindset shift, which is really around the idea that when we come into relationship, that I'm a sovereign being, I'm a sovereign whole being. You are a sovereign whole being all unto yourself. And when we come together, like we we just, we're even better. Like we, we help to magnify each other, but we don't complete each other. And I think that that's like the biggest difference between codependency and co-creation.
Chase Kosterlitz: I want to talk about how we can cultivate the co-creation, but first I want to talk about co-dependency because it's an area that I'm definitely working on in my personal life. I really notice when I'm in partnership and my partner is maybe having an off day or we're not really gelling, right? These moments of disconnect, it really gets me, can more so in the past, get me to a place of not feeling okay, you know? And it's not a good feeling, you know? No one wants to feel that. No one wants to feel like our partner's upset with us. And definitely there's deeper childhood wounds under those things. And I've been able to unpack them And like a lot of these things, it's a process. First step is really becoming aware. How and why do we become amiss?
(someone): and just communicating that. So you can include that in the agreement. And then for the other person, whatever their needs are, it's like, they can simply express, I'm feeling really needy, or I'm feeling emotional right now. And I'm going to, I'm going to take care of myself in this moment, you know, and then we'll come back together. This is kind of nuanced because I'm going to try to distill this and make this a little bit more clear. I think I might be giving a lot of examples. Okay, let's get really clear. So the first part is just the commitment to self. The second I would say would be around your communication. So how are we going to communicate when things get challenging? And how are we just going to communicate with each other in general? What's that going to look like? Try to paint that picture for each other, so that if the other person starts to go into behaviors that are not helpful, raging, yelling, slamming, whatever that is, hey, we've got this agreement that this is how we're going to move through that. And that can be really helpful to start intercepting some of those behaviors. The other thing I would say is to agree on how you are going to cultivate more intimacy. So not just sex, but intimacy. So flirting with each other and spending time together. So really trying to find ways to prioritize the relationship.
(someone): you know, I'm going to be involved with people who are a reflection and a mirror of some of my own challenges. Codependency would say, boy, you're always, until you grow, you're always going to be connecting with these really troubled people, and you need to take a long time out to work on yourself. Well, I'd love everyone to work on themselves, but I think more importantly is that I already understand that I'm going to be in a relationship with someone who has similar challenges to me, and that's just human nature. But if two broken people come together and try to heal, then together they will grow so much more effectively than individually. Why not find someone who has equal challenges as me and together we can grow? Now, dating people, there are some bottom lines, right? I don't want to date people who are actively using. I don't want to date people who have no life. I don't want to date people who have no insight into themselves and they blame me for everything. I mean, there are bottom lines because certain kinds of people will always make me feel bad about myself. But if I spy somebody who they have issues and we're kind of caught up with each other, but they've been sober a while, they go to therapy. You know, I can't expect nor should I to And let me tell you this, if you are an emotional two, you are drama personified, but you wanna go out and date a nine, someone who really, really has it together, every two, when they start dating that nine, will say, God, they're really boring, every time, because it's not exciting, it doesn't have the intensity, it doesn't reflect their experience in life. And every nine who dates a two,
(someone): And so, you know, there's so there's truths in both of those things. The other the other part of like the personal responsibility piece is we always have a role in in our experience, like, no matter what, because each of us each of us is going to influence and impact our energy is going to impact the other person. And so when that happens, and it's going to happen, that we also have to have a commitment to continuously refining the communication to find the way to communicate that both of us can understand. And And that's important. That's like, again, a whole other podcast episode on its own. But circling back to the question about, hey, if I always feel like I want to fix my partner and this is the relationship, then start with self. You've got to start with self. And the other thing is, you attracted this partner and you said yes to this partner. And so, you know, now that you see more of them, you know, it's important to start looking at self to see, okay, why did I attract this partner? What did I say yes to? What am I upset with now? You know, these start asking more questions, but stop blaming and stop delaying your happiness.
Sarah Kosterlitz: Before we continue on, we're going to take a short break to tell you about our sponsors.
Chase Kosterlitz: It's such a difficult thing to do sometimes, but it's so important.
Chase Kosterlitz: But first, I want to talk about our relationship with ourselves and getting to this place where we feel whole. And again, that's a process. It's not like, oh, we're going to become enlightened and we always feel whole and perfect all the time. But there's degrees and we're definitely going to show up better in relationship, the more whole we are with ourselves. But as we're, we're talking about childhood, society, all these things can can create this outward search to become whole validation from our partner from society. What are some of the things we can work on that we can talk, maybe an inner dialogue to create that wholeness from within?
(someone): Yeah, well, first, I just I love that you brought up the relationship with self because that is where it begins. That's the number one piece is that it has to start with ourselves and nothing's going to change outside of us until we change ourselves. So, you know, something kind of basic to start with as we're asking ourselves, you know, and as we start to move into a new paradigm for relationship and for living life is How do I want to love? And how do I want to be loved? And we can really start like, really, because all of us are going to pass away at some point in time. None of us is going to be here forever. And we don't know when we're going to go out. And so while we're here, to really feel into that, how, how basically like, how do I want to show up?
Chase Kosterlitz: First step is really becoming aware. How and why do we become amiss? Why is it so hard sometimes to go, hey, my partner's having a bad day. Don't take it personally. Can you talk a little bit about that?
(someone): Yeah. Okay. So we really think about it. you know, back in like, I'll say my generation, things are changing now. But you know, back in like the 80s and 90s, so much of the messaging is to look outside of oneself for the answer. So we're always looking outside of ourselves. So this is I'm not and I'm talking about not even in relationships at this point, I'm talking about the answer is outside of you, the guru is outside of you, the teachers outside of you, you've got to get everybody else's validation to know that you're okay. People in the household, you know, in families that we grew up in, maybe not everybody was really transparent and communicative about their emotions, or maybe they were overly emotional. So there's this way in which growing up in the home, we may have to like, hey, is it okay? Am I safe? I've got to look at my parents' facial expressions to determine how the day is going to be. How's my parents' tone of voice? How are my other siblings behaving? You know what I mean? So there's like all of this stuff
(someone): It was not magic. It was super messy. And oh my gosh, I messed it up a lot of times. Thankfully, I'm like humble enough to be able to say like, I didn't get it right. And I'm just gonna try again, you know. But I started to realize that I'm like, oh, I want to I want hypothetically to be loved. But I don't trust. I don't trust the man. I don't trust. I don't believe that I can actually be loved. I don't believe somebody can actually hold my heart with tenderness and care. So In order for me to even be able to attract that kind of relationship, I had to start working on that limiting belief that said, I can be loved, just like that. I am precious enough, someone's going to value me, because I'm valuing me. And so I had to learn how to value and trust myself and love myself first.
Sarah Kosterlitz: Before we continue on, we're going to take a short break to tell you about our sponsors. We all want to feel more connected in our relationships, but oftentimes we don't know where to start. If you're here and listening to the podcast, you've already made a huge step in the right direction to strengthening and deepening your relationship. But what you're probably still looking for are the specific tools and exercises needed to create lasting, positive improvements in your relationship.
Chase Kosterlitz: I'm excited to be here. Today we're going to talk about a few different things. I'm excited to pick your brain about some newer topics that we haven't necessarily gotten too much into on previous episodes. And I thought a good one to start with would be co-creativity. And you talk about co-creativity instead of co-dependency. So maybe you could tell us what co-dependency looks like and why and how we want to work towards co-creativity.
(someone): Yeah, so codependency shows up in a lot of different ways. But basically, it's I need you to be a certain way in order for me to be a certain way. So if you change, that means that maybe I'm not safe, I'm not okay. I have to change in some way. And that can be super duper scary for people. And, and as you know, codependency shows up in all forms of relationships. And we're talking today about, you know, romantic relationships, but it shows up everywhere. And so I think that like, when we start to when we start to pull back from this idea of really like enmeshment, and I need you to be a certain way so that I can do so I can feel a certain way or I can be a certain way, then we can start moving into co-creativity. But that requires kind of like a whole mindset shift, which is really around the idea that when we come into relationship, that I'm a sovereign being, I'm a sovereign whole being.
Chase Kosterlitz: So you guys are going to enjoy today's show. As always, thank you so much for tuning in and we really appreciate you. Have a wonderful day, evening or night and enjoy the show. Hi, Dr. Rob. Thanks so much for joining me on the show today.
(someone): Chase, you know, it's always good to get out there and inform and help people grow.
Chase Kosterlitz: I'm really excited to talk to you because we've never talked about this on the show and probably because we've never had you on the show. It seems like you're one of the bigger thought leaders in this area of what you call pro-dependence. So I thought we could start by having you talk about what co-dependence is and then we'll talk about how you define pro-dependence and dive into that.
(someone): Well, codependence is a pop culture idea that came out of four books that were written in the 1980s. Some of them were quite famous. You'd know them like Codependent No More or Women Who Love Too Much, you know, those kinds of things. And it really mirrored codependence in its evolution. Well, I did my dissertation on codependence, so I know a lot about it. And really, it evolved in sync with the women's movement of the 1980s that by not being dependent, by moving away from men. And, you know, in the workplace, 9 to 5 is the movie that comes to mind, you know, get rid of that stupid boss and get ahead.
(someone): And so what came out of that was looking at the entire system of a family as being troubled. So codependency said if you're involved with an addict or alcoholic, there's also something wrong with you. And you have to look back at your past and your history and your trauma to see what it is that made you be with this person, stay with this person, and how can you involve yourself in personal growth and development and detach from that loved one in order to develop on your own and grow on your own. And it kind of said, you know, hey, you know, you may grow past that person and decide not to be with them anymore. Or you may decide that you never should have been with them in the first place because you chose them out of your own problems. And therefore, as you grow out of your problems, you won't need to be with this troubled person anymore. So codependence ultimately was a pathology or an illness that was applied to loved ones of addicts that said basically they were contributing to the addiction with their own problem behaviors. There you go. Quick summary.
Chase Kosterlitz: Yes. No, that's a great foundation for us to launch into pro-dependence. And I want to dig into codependency and how it can show up, but I think it'd be valuable if you shared what you've written a book about and reframing this whole idea.
(someone): Yeah. Well, first, I think, Chase, if you don't mind, it'd be important to talk about what's wrong with codependency and not why it doesn't work. and why it is a problem, because you don't have to come up with new solutions to things that are resolved.
(someone): very differently than if it were the other way around. So an example of an interpersonal need that is one that we cannot fulfill without the participation of another person in our life is a need for intimacy, a need for connection, a need to have some sense of togetherness, that I'm not alone, a need for external support, which we all need in various ways. We live in a culture that really kind of demonizes the whole need for dependence. And so we have created this milieu of hyper-independence in which people, particularly men, hold the belief that they should be self-made, that they shouldn't need other people, they shouldn't be dependent. Now, the thing is that we are, as human beings, we're social beings, meaning we are all interdependent. And interdependence is the third way of being other than independence and dependence. Dependence is when you're making other people responsible for needs that you have. And then you get into what is the other dependency, which is codependency, where both people are expecting the other person to fulfill needs that they really need to be responsible for, like their own health, their own well-being. their feeling of wholeness, the results that they create in their own lives, that there's this tendency that so many of us have is to project that responsibility onto other people. Or in the case of a committed partnership, very often it's, well, you're responsible for providing for my material needs or for my financial needs or for my feelings of being a good person, my feelings of self-esteem. So it really, that's kind of the way we see it breaks down in terms of really looking at what is my responsibility. It's really an issue of responsibility more than anything else.
(someone): Again, it just gives the narcissist more power and lessens their own, as well as lessening their self-esteem and their happiness in the relationship. If you're not getting your needs met, that's why you're unhappy. A lot of people don't even value their needs, codependents especially. So they're not even recognizing that their needs aren't being met. They just feel unhappy and they don't know why. And then E, so P-O-W, then E for excitement, because a lot of times people get addicted to drama and the excitement, especially when dating a narcissist. They can be very charming, and it can be very thrilling. They can be seductive, sweep you off your feet. Maybe you've heard of love bombing, and they shower you with a lot of attention, words of endearment, maybe make a lot of promises about your future together. But these are going to dry up pretty fast once they think that they have you hooked. And then they turn into Jekyll and Hyde. And you don't know when you're going to get any of the benefits that that narcissist promised. You start to yearn for that charming, romantic, affable person you fell in love with, and he or she is disappeared. And so you hang on for, you know, crumbs of kindness and gestures of romance and affection. And they get less and less. Once in a while, the narcissist turns it on to get what they want. And then it gives a person hope. The problem is this creates a trauma bond.
(someone): We have the saying in the therapy field, be where the client is. That the best place to start therapy is really being in their world and working from there. Well, if I have just gotten my partner into treatment after years of misery and worked so hard to keep my family together, what I would expect in that hospital is people to say to me, wow, you're amazing. The strength that you showed in this situation is unbelievable. And I know that you didn't go to college studying the addictions, so you wouldn't have ever known the right things to do because you're a contractor. But with my help, we can take the love that you have and the caring that you have and make it more effective and more useful in this situation. But I can do all that without blaming you, without shaming you, without telling you something wrong with you. And when you do that, people stay and they feel understood and they feel who doesn't want to be validated after they gave up two years of their life to help somebody they love. So, you know, when you go to a cancer support group, right, everybody says, wow, you know, you work so hard and you must be exhausted and, you know, thank goodness you finally get there, they're doing better or whatever happened to them. You go to an addiction support group for spouses and family, it's like, well, let's talk about all the ways you did it wrong. And I just don't think that is fair, nor do I think it's effective. Are there people who have embraced the codependency model and found their healing and growth there? Absolutely. There wasn't anything else. And people are so desperate to heal themselves and their families, they will take on the pathology.
(someone): So getting a support system. And I say, just observe things in the beginning, write them down. And if you're hiding behavior from other people, that's a sign of denial. And are you making excuses for them? Are you sympathizing with them and not yourself, you know, rationalizing behavior? Or, well, I know that person said that or did that, but it doesn't really bother me. Well, maybe you're minimizing. That's another form of denial. Rationalizing, excusing, minimizing, those are all kinds of denial. And coming out of that can be painful because when the veils are lifted, often there's grief that you realize, my God, I'm I'm married for 20 years to someone with a mental illness that I never realized that I've been waiting around, hoping them for them to change. And then when you see the truth, there's a reckoning that happens within yourself that maybe they're not going to change because, uh, I mean, they can, to some extent, if you start putting these things into practice, but that means working on yourself and In some cases, a narcissist will agree to go to counseling and it can be intensive and it could take a few years. So there's that. And the next is to develop your own life, to become more autonomous. Stop focusing so much on your partner or your sibling or whoever the narcissist is and start developing your own strengths and your own support system Develop yourself so it also will increase your self-esteem. So you're not so dependent.
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