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Am I Co-Dependent? - Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence

The following checklist is offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. It may be particularly helpful to newcomers as they begin to understand codependency. It may aid those who have been in recovery a while to determine what traits still need attention and transformation.

Denial Patterns

Codependents often…

  • have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.

  • minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.

  • perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.

  • lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.

  • label others with their negative traits.

  • think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.

  • mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.

  • express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.

  • do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.

Low Self-esteem Patterns

Codependents often…

  • have difficulty making decisions.

  • judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.

  • are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.

  • value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own.

  • do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons.

  • seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than.

  • have difficulty admitting a mistake.

  • need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good.

  • are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want.

  • perceive themselves as superior to others.

  • look to others to provide their sense of safety.

  • have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.

  • have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries.

Compliance Patterns

Codependents often…

  • are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.

  • compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.

  • put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.

  • are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.

  • are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.

  • accept sexual attention when they want love.

  • make decisions without regard to the consequences.

  • give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control Patterns

Codependents often…

  • believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.

  • attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.

  • freely offer advice and direction without being asked.

  • become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice

  • lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.

  • use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.

  • have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.

  • demand that their needs be met by others.

  • use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.

  • use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.

  • refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.

  • adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.

  • use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.

  • pretend to agree with others to get what they want.

Avoidance Patterns

Codependents often. . . 

  • act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.

  • judge harshly what others think, say, or do.

  • avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.

  • allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.

  • use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.

  • diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.

  • suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.

  • pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.

  • refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.

  • believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.

  • withhold expressions of appreciation. 

Content re-published from the book Co-Dependents Anonymous,  ISBN: 0-9647105-0-1 with the permission of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc.

©1995 - Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. - Library of Congress Catalog Number 95-6915

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