The Manifestations of Codependency

Characteristics of Codependency:

I argue we live in a codependent society.

But when I say codependent — what do you think of? Probably someone (usually a woman) staying in a toxic, unhealthy relationship with a no good man she thinks she can fix. That’s a valid image and actually is the root of the term — but it is an oversimplification. [This shouldn’t be confused with someone, usually a woman, who is forced to stay in a toxic relationship due to financial or socio-economic restraints — that’s another discussion entirely and can exist both with and without psychological codependency.]

Two hearts unhappily attached. (

Substance is whatever device or devices a codependent uses to fulfill their void. It could be drugs, alcohol, family members, partners, children, careers, volunteer work, pets, money, wealth, fame, celebrity worship, sex, gambling or a combination thereof.

Codependency is described by psychologist Bruce K Alexander as a powerful dedication or devotion to a habit or pursuit that may interfere with one’s life.

  • Low self-esteem (✓)
  • People pleasing (✓)
  • Poor boundaries (✓)
  • Reactivity (✓)
  • Caretaking (✓)
  • Control (✓)
  • Dysfunctional communication
  • Obsessions (✓)
  • Dependency (✓)
  • Issues with intimacy (✓)
  • Painful/overwhelming emotions (✓)

I like to define codependency into two categories: respectable codependence and non-respectable codependence.

Respectable codependence is romantic relationships, parent to child, pets and career. These are considered good things — and our society has a very unhealthy image of what these SHOULD look like, so often dangerous codependence is seen as something to be proud of. (Slight sidebar, but think about the language we use about love: “you are my world’, “I need you”, “you complete me”….not healthy…but it’s in every movie or popular song in one way or another). Nonrespectable codependence is alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or other “seedy” fixes. Though society will still glamorize them through our media, in ways.

Some of the language is outdated and cringey — but a decent read.

And as such, dislocation leads to an absence of an enduring or sustaining connection between individuals and their families, communities and/or societies.

How truly connected are most people to society? In this capitalism? It’s pretty much a rat race to be better than the other with a survival of the fittest attitude.

The workaholic is often admired — but its just respectable codependency.

The hard work is examining how this society’s ill permeates throughout all of the society — and how we all are impacted by it, directly or indirectly, in our familial relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, careers and our daily lives.

Maybe we should work toward unraveling our codependent society and try building to our natural roots in interdependence.



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Angel D’Angelo

Angel D’Angelo


I’m not an expert or scholar on anything. I mainly write for me. If others see it, and love it, great :)