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What Are the Signs of a Codependent Person?

Are you or your loved one experiencing codependency? Learn the signs and symptoms of a codependent person here.

What Is a Codependent Person?

Codependency is a common behavioral and emotional condition that affects relationships. This type of learned behavior is often passed down through a family from generation to generation. For a codependent person, it can be challenging to have healthy relationships. Codependent relationships can result in abuse or emotional destruction.1

Definition of Codependent Person

You may be wondering, what is the definition of a codependent person? A codependent person displays an unhealthy attachment to a person or multiple people. For instance, an individual may show codependency with a partner, parent, friend, or sibling. Codependency often includes drug or alcohol addiction issues 1

Codependent vs. Dependent: What Is the Difference?

From financial to emotional dependence, various forms of dependence are considered normal in relationships. Parental and familial relationships can be dependent without any codependency symptoms. However, if the relationship becomes mutually dysfunctional and each person is dependent on the other person's dependence, those are signs of codependency.1

What Are the Signs of a Codependent Person?

If you are codependent or know someone who is, you may have noticed it’s challenging for codependent people to be themselves. Codependent people typically seek external validation to make themselves feel better.1 It’s essential to familiarize oneself with the signs of a codependent person.

Common Characteristics of a Codependent Person

Codependent people generally display one or more common characteristics of a codependent person. The following sections will explore each of these characteristics.

People Pleasing

Who is a people pleaser? A people pleaser has trouble saying no to people, spends a significant amount of time doing things for others, and will often take on additional work or tasks to relieve the burden of those around them. Everyone else usually comes first for a people pleaser, sometimes at the cost of their health or wellbeing.2

Lack of Boundaries

Issues with boundaries and intimacy are common characteristics of a codependent person. Codependent individuals with people-pleasing tendencies usually have difficulty setting and keeping healthy boundaries.

Poor Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is another characteristic of codependency. Codependent individuals usually aren’t comfortable in their skin and seek external validation. Due to poor self-esteem, many codependent relationships include addiction issues such as drugs, alcohol, or gambling.


In most cases, codependent individuals have good intentions. For example, a parent may try to make excuses for their child’s behavior to shield them from uncomfortable consequences. Another example could be an individual helping their partner hide their addiction to avoid negative consequences. Although caretaking usually begins with good intentions, in codependent relationships, it becomes a destructive cycle that is difficult to break free from.


Reactivity, a need to control others, fear of abandonment, and chronic anger are characteristics of a codependent person.

Poor Communication

Poor communication skills, lying, dishonesty, and difficulties identifying feelings can all be signs of a codependent person.

Lack of Self-Image

Lack of self-image and low self-esteem are common when it comes to codependency. A codependent person finds their self-worth externally from being needed.


An unhealthy level of dependency can also be a trait of a codependent person. A codependent person will do virtually anything to avoid abandonment and maintain their codependent relationship.

Relationship Stress

Codependent people find satisfaction in rescuing others and being needed. The satisfaction from caretaking will eventually begin to feel like an obligation. Then, codependent individuals often identify as victims and suffer from a great deal of emotional stress due to the people they bring into their lives.

What Causes a Person to Be Codependent?

Codependency in relationships is caused by biological, social, and psychological factors. The following sections will explore situations that can increase a person's likelihood of displaying codependent behaviors.3

Damaging Parental Relationships

Parental conflicts and dysfunctional household dynamics can result in codependency symptoms. For instance, if a child’s self-esteem is damaged due to their relationship with one or both of their parents, they may be more likely to struggle with co-dependency.3

Living With a Family Member Who Has a Mental or Physical Disorder

In families and households where one or more individuals have a behavioral health disorder, it’s more likely that codependency symptoms will exist.3

Abusive Families

Neglect, emotional abuse, and physical abuse can increase a person's likelihood of developing codependency symptoms within the family.3

How to Help a Codependent Person?

If you or someone you care about is struggling with signs of codependency, it’s essential to understand how to help. To begin addressing unhealthy, unhelpful behaviors, a person must realize the patterns of codependency and addiction. Change and growth are fundamental for the best ways to help a codependent person.

How to Set Boundaries with a Codependent Person?

One of the main characteristics of codependent persons is an inability to maintain healthy boundaries. For that reason, it is vital to establish and maintain strict boundaries with codependent individuals. Although it may be challenging, this may include learning to say no to your codependent loved one.

Family Support

Family support can be a useful tool when helping a person displaying signs of codependent relationships. Family support is most beneficial when it is loving but not enabling.

Codependent Person

Codependent Person

Treatment For a Codependent Person

How can a person address or receive treatment for codependency signs? Treatment for codependency typically involves exploring the individual’s childhood, trauma, and possible destructive patterns.4

Individual or Group Therapy for a Codependent Person

Codependency treatment can include education, group therapy, and individual counseling. The goal of therapy is to help codependent individuals become comfortable experiencing their feelings while addressing self-defeating behavioral patterns.

Seek Treatment for Codependency at Anew Treatment Center

Anew Treatment Center provides residential and outpatient treatment programs for many behavioral health conditions, including addiction and codependency. Inclusion and unconditional positive regard are the pillars of treatment at Anew Treatment Center. Our top priority is providing individuals with the necessary skills and techniques to establish and maintain mental wellness, which often means equipping them with the expertise to navigate the challenges of interpersonal connections.

Contact the friendly concierge team today to learn more about the program and its services. We look forward to helping you or your loved one regain autonomy over your lives and relationships.

Learn More About Our Treamtment Programs

Our team is ready to discuss your treatment options with you. Your call is confidential with no obligation is required.