How do Codependent Relationships Look Like?

In a codependent relationship, one person is seen as weak and the other as strong. The weak one appears totally dependent on the strong one. But the one who appears strong is actually weak because of the excessive need to be needed by the weak one. In fact, the strong one needs for the weak one to stay weak, which in turn keeps the strong one feeling strong.

The ultimate solution is the God’s solution, for both of these weak persons are not to try to draw strength from each other, but rather to derive their strength from God. The Bible says in Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Examples of Codependent Relationships:

  • A wife is excessively helpless around her husband … and the husband needs his wife to stay helpless.
  • A husband is excessively needy in how he relates to his wife … and the wife needs him to stay needy.
  • A student is excessively tied to a teacher … and the teacher needs the student to stay tied.
  • A child is excessively pampered by the parent … and the parent needs the child to stay in need of pampering. Unhealthy enmeshment occurs when parents need an excessive connection with their children in order to get their own emotional needs met. With enmeshment, nurturing flows unnaturally from child to parent, leaving the child emotionally drained and empty. Healthy bonding occurs when parents are connected with their children by being God’s instruments to meet their basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. With healthy bonding, nurturing flows naturally from parent to child, leaving the child emotionally fulfilled and whole.
  • A parent is excessively protected by the child … and the child needs the parent to stay in need of protection.
  • An employee is excessively entangled with an employer … and the employer needs the employee to stay entangled.
  • An alcoholic needs help from his/her spouse, the spouse wants to be needed. After an alcoholic becomes healthy and whole, the strong codependent mate is no longer needed in the same way. The new dynamic changes the balance in the relationship. The strong one, who no longer feels needed in the same way, could choose to divorce and remarry another needy mate in order to feel needed again. Obviously, divorce is not the solution.  To become emotionally balanced and spiritually healthy is the solution. Just as every alcoholic needs to overcome alcoholism, every codependent needs to overcome codependency.
  • A friend is excessively fixated on another friend … and that person needs the friend to stay fixated.
  • A counselee is excessively clinging to a counselor … and the counselor needs the counselee to continue clinging.
  • A disciple is excessively dependent on a discipler … and the discipler needs the disciple to stay dependent.
  • A victim is excessively vulnerable to a victimiser … and the victimiser needs the victim to stay vulnerable.
  • A layperson is excessively leaning on a spiritual leader … and the leader needs the layperson to continue leaning.

When we have a misplaced dependency, we have a misplaced trust. We are excessively trusting in the relationship to provide more than God intended. The Psalms describe a misplaced trust in Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”