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How Can I Tell if I’m Codependent?

How Can I Tell if I’m Codependent?

Dear Morgan,

I grew up in a large family with an alcoholic father and controlling mom. To avoid getting in trouble with them, I developed what I’ve come to understand is a people pleaser personality.  And I was okay with that. I just figured it was the way I was, until I got involved with my ex-girlfriend. She was my second real lesbian relationship. So when I found out she drank a bit too much, I overlooked it, because I didn’t want to lose her. After almost a year together though, I couldn’t take it anymore. I found myself feeling neglected, and making excuses for her bad behavior. Shortly thereafter, I found the strength to leave, but she still reaches out, and relies on me to take care of her for certain things.  When sharing this recently with a friend, she said it sounded like I was codependent, and needed counseling.  So, I wanted to know from a credible source who knows – am I a codependent?

Tampa, FL

Hi Connie ~

So, let’s start with some basics.

Many studies suggest, and I happen to agree, that 90-96% of all Americans are codependent, to some degree.  Meaning, they experience codependent behavior or symptoms somewhere on the spectrum.  So, with this statistic alone, one could almost assume you’ve probably got at least a few codependency issues.

Also, based on the family dynamics you described; I would say that you are a prime candidate for developing codependent behavior. Most children who grow up with one or more addicts in the family, tend to develop attachment trauma, which then leads to codependent behavior or issues.  One of the main reasons for this is because, when a parent stops loving a child, the child doesn’t stop loving the parent, they stop loving themselves.  Meaning, they find fault with themselves, as to why their parents don’t give them the time, love, and attention they need to become a thriving adult.

This behavior or perspective, left unhealed or checked, bleeds into adulthood, where these broken children become adult people pleasers or full-blown codependents, tolerant of neglect, abuse, and other unacceptable behavior from those who are suppose to love and value them.

That said, unfortunately, I do not diagnose individuals online, as there are too many variables one can miss or get wrong from a simple note or single interaction.  To get absolute clarity, you would need to work with a qualified professional, who can accurately assess your unique situation.

However, I do want to offer you a list of signs associated with codependency, so you can at least see if they feel familiar to you.  If you find that you are in resonance with more of them than not, it could be a strong indicator that seeking out a mental health professional to diagnose you is a wise option at this time.


+ Taking everything personally
+ Feeling like a victim or prisoner in your life
+ Fear of rejection and being unlovable
+ Feeling like you are responsible for others, and their problems
+ Offering unsolicited advice, regardless of whether or not the person wants it
+ Expecting others to do as you say or take your advice
+ Lying to yourself or making excuses about other people’s bad behavior
+ Trying hard to please others, so they will like, love or respect you
+ Feeling used or underappreciated for the advice and effort you give others

Again, if this list feels a bit too familiar, might I suggest finding a professional counselor to assess you, and if need be, guide you through the recovery process.  Or, to jump start your healing and education process immediately, you can also pick up anyone of these books, as they are highly informative, and full of the types of insights and exercises that can help guide you in a healthy direction.


CODEPENDENT NO MORE, by Melody Beattie
THE BETRAYAL BOND, by Patrick Carnes

Best of luck!
You are loved!



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