1. Advise others and focus on their problems.
Codependents often give more advice than is asked for, in an effort to fix another person’s problem or difficulty. This often results in taking away a person’s autonomy and discouraging them from finding their own solutions. These codependent individuals may try to fill the role of a “savior” and take on responsibility for the other person’s emotions and actions.
2. Appear to be competent and self-reliant.
Codependents may appear to be strong, competent, in control, and emotionally self-sufficient. However, they are usually avoiding their feelings of low self-worth while relying heavily on external validation from others. This need for approval causes codependents to hide their true selves in order to gain the acceptance of others.
3. Do things perfectly to earn approval.
Codependents often strive for perfectionism in an effort to gain approval from others or meet the expectations of authority figures who have a lot of influence over them. This behavior can lead to burnout and resentment, as they are unable to attain the unachievable goals they have set for themselves.
4. Project a successful, happy image.
Codependents may project an image of success and happiness in order to mask feelings of helplessness, sadness, and worthlessness. They do this in an effort to hide their true emotions from others so that they can receive validation and acceptance from them.
5. Isolate themselves and feel lonely.
Codependents often isolate themselves from friends and family due to feeling unlovable or unworthy. This can lead them to feel more isolated, lonely, and disconnected from those around them. It’s important for codependents to reach out for help if they are feeling isolated, as it can be a sign of depression or other mental health concerns.
6. Communicate indirectly, through others.
Codependents may communicate indirectly to avoid possible criticism or rejection. They may use other people to do things they don’t want to do, such as asking a friend to deliver an unpleasant message rather than doing it themselves. This behavior can lead codependents to become dependent on others for communication and make them feel less in control of their own lives.
7. Do not know how to set boundaries.
Codependents often have difficulty setting healthy boundaries with those around them due to feelings of guilt and fear of abandonment or disapproval. Oftentimes codependents will allow someone else to make decisions for them, be manipulative, or take advantage of their kindness.
8. Become the family guardian.
Codependents may become the “family guardian” and take on responsibility for everyone else’s feelings and problems. This can lead to codependents sacrificing their own needs in order to support those around them, even if they are not asked or expected to do so.
9. Vigilant, careful not to expose evidence.
Codependents often become overly vigilant in an effort to hide any evidence of their true emotions from others. They will avoid discussing certain topics or revealing too much about themselves out of fear that it could lead to disapproval or rejection by someone important in their lives.
10. Take over the abuser’s obligations.
Codependents may take on responsibilities that should be handled by the abuser in an effort to keep their relationships functional. This can be a dangerous dynamic as it enables the abuser and often leads to codependents feeling trapped in the relationship or too dependent on the abuser for validation or approval.