The Problem
On the surface, co-dependency sounds like “Christian teaching.” Co-dependents always put others first before taking care of themselves. (Aren’t Christians to put others first?) Co-dependents give themselves away. (Shouldn’t Christians do the same?) Co-dependents martyr themselves. (Christianity honors its martyrs.)
In its broadest sense, co-dependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors or things. Co-dependency is the fallacy of trying to control interior feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the outside. To the-codependent, control or the lack of it is central to every aspect of life.
(For information specific to co-dependent women with sexually addicted men, click here.)
Co-dependent Patterns
Characteristics of someone struggling with co-dependency may include, but are not limited to:
  • Assumes responsibility for others’ feelings and behaviors.
  • Feels guilty about others’ feelings and behaviors.
  • Having difficulty identifying or expressing one’s own feelings.
  • Minimizing, altering, or denying how one truly feels.
  • Are afraid of your own anger, yet sometimes erupt in rage.
  • Living with messages of not being good enough, valued, or loved.
  • Worrying about how others may respond to your feelings, opinions, and behavior.
  • Have difficulty making decisions.
  • Tolerating mistreatment or abuse from others while justifying their behavior and trying to defend them.
  • Are afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.
  • Are very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
  • Are afraid to express differing opinions or feeling.
  • Values others opinions and feelings more than your own.
  • Puts other people’s needs and desires before your own; feeling victimized and “used” as a result.
  • Anxiety in saying “no” to someone, even when saying “yes” would be at great inconvenience.
  • Embarrassed to receive recognition and praise, or gifts.
  • Directly or indirectly attempting to fix, manage, or control another person’s problems to help them avoid feeling bad or experiencing the consequences of their choices.
  • Judging everything you think, say, or do harshly, as never “good enough.”
  • Are a perfectionist.
  • Feeling conflicted by a desire to be needed and resentment for feeling obligated in serving others
  • Are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
  • Feeling bound in relationships by performance (what I do) rather than core value and worth (who I am).
  • Doesn't ask others to meet your needs or desires.
  • Doesn't perceive yourself as lovable and worthwhile.
  • Compromises your own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.
The Solution
Freedom from co-dependency begins when we surrender the illusion that our identity and value are established through the lenses of other people. Our identity is in how God views us and who He created us to be. As a result, we no longer need to see ourselves as a function of what we do, but who we already are.
Sobriety for Co-Dependency

Sobriety for the co-dependent is different. It is not characterized by abstaining from a substance. It is more relational in nature. The key to co-dependent sobriety is learning how to have healthy relationships and how to establish and enforce appropriate boundaries that we may accurately establish where we end and another person begins.
We can recognize co-dependent sobriety when we have not actively sought to control or manipulate others, given unsolicited advice, or based our self-concept on the well-being or approval of others. While working toward co-dependent sobriety we’ll make a faithful commitment to consistently work the program, which includes:  
  • Steady attendance at recovery meetings.
  • Accountability to a Sponsor and/or Accountability Partners.
  • Working through the 12 Steps as a part of a Step Study and learning to apply them to day-to-day life.
  • Accepting and walking in the biblical truth that your self-worth is who you are in Christ, and not based on how others view you, what you do, or the service you perform.
  • Learning to recognize and enforce healthy boundaries that accurately establish where you end and another person begins. Not allowing others to compromise those boundaries.
  • Learning how to help others in suitable ways, without rescuing or fixing; allowing them to act independently, allowing them to own the results of their choices and behavior.
  • Performing acts of service as a choice, not out of duty or for recognition and value from others. Serving with joy using God given talents and abilities.
  • Learning to live a balanced life where self-care and taking responsibility for one’s own health and well-being take priority over the addictive behavior and control of others.
As you draw closer to your Higher Power, Jesus Christ, you will learn how to apply the 12 Steps, designed to guide you in this journey we call “Recovery.” If you are diligent to provide willingness, integrity, consistency, and rigorous honesty, God will supply you with the courage, strength, and ability to take the necessary steps to gain freedom from compulsive behaviors.