How to End Codependent & Toxic Relationships

Written by alexander poirier
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How to End Codependent & Toxic Relationships
(Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Codependent relationships are defined as relationships in which the two individuals involved feel that they cannot exist without the other person. Unlike healthy relationships where this sort of unity brings the parties involved closer together, codependent relationships regress into toxic, obsessive relationships in which each individual has a very low sense of self-worth. Ending a codependent relationship is not easy; however, it is a necessary step in the path to overcoming the pattern of codependent behaviour.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Recognise that you are involved in a codependent relationship. Melody Beattie, the preeminent author on codependency who helped pioneer the use of the phrase in her 1986 book "Codependent No More," defines a codependent relationship as a relationship in which one or both parties involved "let another person's behaviour affect him or her" and become "obsessed with controlling that person's behaviour." Melody Beattie is a recovering codependent and has published over 15 books on the subject, many of which have spent time on the "New York Times" best sellers list. Like any form of recovery, recognising that there is a problem is the first step to solving it.

  2. 2

    Discuss the codependent nature of your relationship with your partner. Explain to him that codependent relationships are not healthy and result in obsessive, abusive, self-destructive situations. Explain to him that, in order to progress and overcome your codependent nature, you must remove yourself from the situation. Hopefully this will allow you to come to some sort of agreement regarding the break-up.

  3. 3

    Remove yourself from the relationship completely. Since codependent relationships centre around a feeling of reliance, you must remove yourself from the relationship completely to establish that you can indeed "stand on your own." Feeling sorry for the other person or staying with her because she "would not be able to live without you" only reinforces codependent behaviour.

  4. 4

    Seek help. Talk with friends and family members about the break-up. Schedule and attend a session with a therapist or attend a support group meeting. Codependent tendencies often develop during adolescence and childhood, making their roots much deeper than the relationship you just ended. Failure to address your codependency issues and discuss them with others will inevitably lead to another codependent relationship further down the line.

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