Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence
These patterns and characteristics are
offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.
They may be particularly helpful to newcomers.
I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the
well-being of others.
I lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
I label others with my negative traits.
I can take care of myself without any help from others.
I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am
Self Esteem Patterns:
I have difficulty making decisions.
I judge what I think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
I am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and
behavior over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake.
I need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and will even lie to
I am unable to ask others to meet my needs or desires.
I perceive myself as superior to others.
I look to others to provide my sense of safety.
I have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing
I have trouble setting healthy priorities.
I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want.
I am hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those
I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they
differ from those of others.
I accept sexual attention when I want love.
I make decisions without regard to the consequences.
I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.
I believe most people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
I freely offer advice and direction to others without being asked.
I become resentful when others decline my help or reject my advice.
I lavish gifts and favors on those I want to influence.
I use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
I have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.
I demand that my needs be met by others.
I use charm and charisma to convince others of my capacity to be caring
I use blame and shame to emotionally exploit others.
I refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage
to manipulate outcomes.
I use terms of recovery in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
I pretend to agree with others to get what I want.
I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger
I judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of
I allow my addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from
achieving intimacy in relationships.
I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or
I diminish my capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to
use all the tools of recovery.
I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
I pull people toward me, but when they get close, I push them away.
I refuse to give up my self-will to avoid surrendering to a power that
is greater than myself.
I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
I withhold expressions of appreciation.
Characteristics of Codependency
may not be reprinted or republished without the express written consent
of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. This document may be
reprinted from the website www.coda.org
(CoDA) for use by members of the CoDA
Copyright © 2010
Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. and its licensors -All Rights Reserved
- What is it?
Codependency is when a person has a strong desire to control people
around them, including their spouse, children or co-workers.
Codependents believe they are somehow more capable than others, who
need their direction or suggestions to fulfill tasks they are
responsible to complete. They feel compassion for people who may be
hurting and feel they should be the one to help them. Codependent
people give of their time, emotions, finances, and other resources.
They have a very difficult time saying "no" to any requests made of
- A Matter of Control
Codependency, for others, doesn't express itself in a desire to
control, but instead, in the need to be controlled by others. Because
it is nearly impossible for Codependents to say "no" to people, they
may find themselves the victims in physically and emotionally abusive
relationships. They believe that if they can be good enough, or loving
enough, they can change the other person's behavior. They sometimes
blame themselves for the abusive behavior: "If only I had not forgotten
to do the dishes, he would not have had to hit me."
Codependency causes internal struggles with the opinions of others.
Codependents may make decisions based on what they think other people
want them to do. While they may believe that their motive for helping
people is compassion, in reality they are doing it because they want
love or approval. They may come to recognize the underlying nature of
their behavior when they become hurt or angry at people they have
helped who didn't return the same amount of help, love, or appreciation
when they themselves were in need. They have difficulty understanding
that instead of helping others by providing things they need, they may
actually be hurting them by creating a dependent relationship.
Codependency can also cause struggles in the area of time management.
Codependents may feel they never have enough time to fulfill all of
their commitments because they have made too many. The most important
commitments and relationships are often neglected because they are too
busy helping other people, participating in multiple activities, and
running from one event to another throughout the week. This also
relates to their inability to say "no" when asked to volunteer, attend
a function, or help a friend. The idea of not volunteering, not helping
or not attending is unthinkable. They may believe they are not being
responsible, not being a good friend, or not being a good person if
they refuse any requests. However, many of those situations and
relationships leave them feeling hurt, angry, or resentful.
- The Questions
- Do you find yourself
making decisions based on other people's opinions?
- Is it important to you
that people like you and want to be your friend?
- Do you have a strong
desire to help others, but deep down you know you do it so that they
will like or love you?
- Do you seem to notice
everyone else's problems and have a need to tell them what you think
they should do to solve them?
- Do you feel anxious,
angry or upset when people don't do things you want them to do, or do
things the way you want them to do them?
- Do you find yourself
in relationships where you do all the giving and the other person does
all the taking?
- Are you involved in
activities that demand all of your time and energy and you are
neglecting your family or yourself?