5 ways to be less codependent in your relationship

Motortion Films / ShutterstockThe signs of a codependent relationship aren’t always obvious.
  • Codependency is an “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner,” according to clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Rhodes.
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to detect codependent behaviours in a relationship.
  • If you suspect that you’re codependent or in a codependent relationship, you might want to make some changes in order to foster a healthier relationship.
  • To foster a sense of independence in a relationship, experts suggest setting healthy boundaries and taking time to do things that are just for you.

The signs of codependency can sometimes be difficult to parse because some are pretty subtle. It can also be present in more than just a romantic relationship – codependency can exist in any relationship, whether it’s one with your partner, a parent, or a friend.

“Codependency is excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner,” Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, a clinical psychologist, previously told INSIDER. Although this behaviour can oftentimes feel nice and be difficult to detect, it’s something that should be addressed because, as Rhodes also mentioned, the key to a healthy relationship is independence.

All in all, codependency can be unhealthy for and potentially damaging to both parties involved. If you’re finding that a relationship in your life has become codependent, here are some things you can do to help you to regain your independence.


Acknowledge your patterns of behaviour.

iStockAcknowledging any codependent behaviours can help you get to a place where you’re prepared to make some real changes.

The first step to being less codependent is to recognise what’s going on, as Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.

“It’s very hard to make big changes in your life without first having insight that the behaviours exist,” McBain explained.


Set more boundaries.

ShutterstockSet boundaries that reflect your honest feelings.

One of the best things that you can do to become less codependent is to set more boundaries.

“Set boundaries that reflect your honest feelings and realistic capacity to help,” Weena Cullins, LCMFT, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. “This will help prevent resentment from developing as well as burnout.”


Do things that are only for you and encourage your partner to do things that are just for them.

Azovtsev Maksym/ShutterstockTake some time for yourself.

If everything you’re doing is for your partner, your own wants, needs, and goals can suffer, which really inhibits your ability to be independent. Ensuring that you are doing things for yourself and your partner is doing things just for themselves will help you both take more ownership of your time.

“Have separate nights out with friends, eat different things for dinner, get into a hobby that your partner isn’t into,” therapist Erin Parisi, LMHC, MCAP, suggested.


Reflect on the motivations behind your behaviours.

iStockYou may want to encourage your partner to do the same.

Your codependency might result from specific intentions, so it’s a good idea to try to reflect on the reasoning behind your actions or codependent desires.

“Start by taking the time to slow down and consider your own thoughts and feelings a bit more in your day-to-day interactions,” therapist Erin K. Tierno, LCSW, told INSIDER. “What harm would you imagine it doing if you were to actually make a decision about a restaurant rather than justdefer=”defer”to your partner, for example? Could you practice asserting yourself in that small way?”

She said that becoming more curious about and focusing on your own thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs within a relationship is a great place to start. Then, she advises slowly starting to express them. According to Tierno, it can help your relationship become less codependent while still helping you to maintain a connection with your partner.


Consider working with a therapist.

loreanto/ShutterstockIndividual or couple counseling might help.

If you think you might have some codependent tendencies but don’t know where to start with addressing them, you might want to consider working with a therapist.

“Therapy can be a great place to further explore this dynamic in your life, learn where it’s stemming from, and figure out ways to break these unhealthy relationship patterns,” McBain said. “Individual and/or couple counseling may be beneficial here.”

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.