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Codependency vs Interdependency: How Do They Differ?

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By Orlando Treatment Solutions November 13, 2023

Codependency vs Interdependency: How Do They Differ?

Codependency and interdependency are two terms that are often confused with each other, but they have distinct meanings. Codependency is a condition in which a person relies on another person to the point where it negatively impacts their own life. Interdependency, on the other hand, is a healthy relationship in which two people share roles and responsibilities without being overly dependent on each other. Read this article and find out more about codependency vs interdependency.

couple having conflict - codependency vs interdependency relationships

Both codependency and interdependency can become toxic and unhealthy if they are not managed properly. If you or your partner are struggling with codependency or interdependency, it is important to seek professional help. Orlando Treatment Solutions can provide you with the support and resources you need to overcome these challenges and build healthy, fulfilling relationships.

To learn more about codependency and interdependence, or to schedule a consultation with a therapist at Orlando Treatment Solutions, please call (321) 415-3213

Codependency vs Interdependency: What’s the Difference?

Codependency and Interdependency are both terms used to describe relationships, but they have very different meanings.

What does Codependency mean?

Codependency is a relationship in which one person relies on the other for their happiness and well-being. The codependent person may feel like they cannot function without their partner, and they may make unhealthy sacrifices to keep the relationship together.

What does Interdependency mean?

Interdependency, on the other hand, is a healthy relationship in which both partners rely on each other for support and companionship. Interdependent partners are independent individuals who choose to be in a relationship because they want to, not because they need to.

Key Differences Between Codependency and Interdependency

Here are some of the most common key differences between codependency vs interdependence relationships:

  • Codependent relationships are often based on unhealthy needs and expectations, while interdependent relationships are based on mutual respect and understanding.
  • Codependent partners may feel like they cannot live without each other, while interdependent partners are confident in their abilities and know that they can survive on their own.
  • Codependent partners may make unhealthy sacrifices to keep the relationship together, while interdependent partners are willing to compromise and communicate openly.

If you are in a codependent relationship, it is important to seek professional help to learn how to develop healthy relationships.

Characteristics of Codependency and Interdependency Relationships:

Characteristic Codependent Relationship Interdependent Relationship
Need for care One partner has an excessive need to be taken care of by the other. Both partners can take care of themselves.
Self-sacrifice One partner puts the needs of the other ahead of their own. Both partners can depend on one another, but their dependence is not unhealthy or damaging for either partner.
Sense of self One partner feels like they do not matter without the other person in their life and that their world would end without them. Both partners have a strong sense of self and can maintain their identity within the relationship.
Emotional boundaries Codependent relationships often have poor emotional boundaries. Interdependent relationships have healthy emotional boundaries, with each partner respecting the other’s needs and feelings.
Communication Communication in codependent relationships can be manipulative or controlling. Communication in interdependent relationships is open and honest.
Trust Codependent relationships often lack trust, with one partner feeling the need to control the other. Interdependent relationships are built on trust and respect.


Additional points that you can consider to differentiate between codependent and interdependent relationships:

Codependent relationships:

  • One partner may feel responsible for the other’s happiness and well-being.
  • One partner may be afraid to express their own needs and feelings.
  • One partner may feel resentful or angry towards the other partner for not meeting their needs.

Interdependent relationships:

  • Both partners can support each other emotionally and practically.
  • Both partners can express their needs and feelings openly and honestly.
  • Both partners feel respected and valued by the other partner.

How to Find Out If You’re in a Codependent or Interdependent Relationship

Codependent and interdependent relationships can be difficult to distinguish, but it’s important to understand the difference because codependent relationships can be unhealthy and damaging for both partners.

Signs that you may be in a codependent relationship:

  • You feel like you need to be taken care of by your partner.
  • You put your partner’s needs ahead of your own.
  • You feel like you don’t matter without your partner.
  • You have poor emotional boundaries.
  • You communicate in a manipulative or controlling way.
  • You don’t trust your partner or vice versa.

Signs that you may be in an interdependent relationship:

  • You can take care of yourself while still having a healthy relationship with your partner.
  • You can depend on your partner, but your dependence is not unhealthy or damaging for either partner.
  • You have a strong sense of self and can maintain your identity within the relationship.
  • You have healthy emotional boundaries.
  • You communicate openly and honestly.
  • You trust your partner and vice versa.

If you’re unsure whether you’re in a codependent or interdependent relationship, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor. They can help you to assess your relationship and determine if it is healthy for you. If you’re based in Orlando, feel free to contact Orlando Treatment Solutions, our expert therapist will be happy to help you. Call us at (321) 415-3213

Tips for finding out if you’re in a codependent or interdependent relationship.

Here are some of the basic tips that can help you out in self-evaluation to find out if you’re in a codependent or interdependent relationship:

  • Think about your childhood. Were you raised to believe that you were responsible for other people’s happiness and well-being? Did you have to take care of your parents or siblings emotionally? If so, you may be more likely to engage in codependent relationships as an adult.
  • Pay attention to your feelings. Do you feel resentful or angry towards your partner? Do you feel like you can’t be yourself around them? Do you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells? If so, these may be signs of a codependent relationship.
  • Talk to your friends and family. Ask them for their honest opinion of your relationship. Do they see any signs of codependency?
  • Seek professional help. If you’re still unsure whether you’re in a codependent or interdependent relationship, talk to a therapist or counselor. They can help you to assess your relationship and determine if it is healthy for you.

Remember, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your relationship. If you’re in a codependent relationship, there is help available. With work, you can learn to have a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

What are Examples of Codependency vs Interdependency Relationships?

Here are a few examples of codependent and interdependent relationships that can help illustrate the differences between these two dynamics:

Examples of Codependent Relationships:

  • The Caretaker and the Addict: In this scenario, one partner takes on the role of constantly caring for and enabling the other partner’s substance abuse or addiction, often neglecting their own needs and well-being.
  • The Overbearing Parent and the Dependent Adult Child: A parent may excessively control and make decisions for their adult child, preventing them from developing independence and self-sufficiency. The adult child may rely on the parent for emotional and financial support.
  • The Abusive Relationship: One partner tolerates physical or emotional abuse, believing they can’t live without the abuser. They may excuse or justify the abusive behavior, staying in the relationship out of fear or low self-esteem.

Examples of Interdependent Relationships:

  • Mutually Supportive Partners: In this healthy relationship, both partners support each other emotionally and practically. They encourage and help each other grow, all while maintaining their individuality and self-sufficiency.
  • Working Together on a Project: In a professional context, two colleagues collaborate effectively, relying on each other’s strengths and skills. They work as a team, but their success doesn’t depend on the other to function independently.
  • Elderly Couple Retiring Together: An elderly couple decides to retire and spend more time together. They share activities and experiences while still maintaining their interests and friendships. They have a strong emotional bond but don’t feel that their well-being depends solely on the other.
  • Parent-Child Relationship with Healthy Boundaries: A parent encourages their child’s independence, supports their choices, and provides guidance, all while allowing the child to develop their individuality and decision-making skills.

These examples illustrate the stark contrast between codependent and interdependent relationships. Codependent relationships tend to be imbalanced, enabling destructive behavior or stifling personal growth, while interdependent relationships emphasize mutual support and independence.

Get Quality and Evidence-based Mental Health Treatment at Orlando Treatment Solutions

If you are concerned that your relationship is codependent, please contact Orlando Treatment Solutions. We can assist you and your partner in overcoming harmful patterns and rebuilding your relationship healthily. Call us at (321) 415-3213 to learn more about mental health and our treatment programs can teach you the skills you need for healthier, happier relationships.


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