Because a Friend Asked


This morning a person I attend a ‘Codependents Anonymous” group with asked me a question that inferred that codependence was never a good thing. Her questioning made me step back and think a little before I responded. What came were a few thoughts that reminded me mutual codependency can be very healthy, and often is.

It’s true the word “codependent” has been batted around and over-used to the point it has a mostly negative connotation. This is especially notable in relationships where at least one member is in recovery. However, that is not what the word really means in its full context.

When added to a word “co” means “together, jointly, mutually, to the same extent or degree”. “Dependent” means “the state or quality of being influenced another, relying on another”. Put the two together and you get something like “mutually relying on each other at about same extent or degree”.

The last of that stated meaning is the most important part. The relationship should be roughly “equal” and not one-sided. Otherwise a person gives more that he or she gets back resulting in an unbalanced and unhealthy relationship.

Codependence is not always a negative thing. It becomes so when the relationship with a person, place or thing controls the giver to the point of damaging their life. A loving relationship with a true friend is a good example of a positive codependent relationship. A good marriage, boss/worker relationship, mother/child relationship and so on are examples of relationships that can be balanced and healthy. It’s when they get one-sided that dysfunction rears its ugly head. Taken from

Looping back and tying this all together my intent was to take some of the negative light off the word “codependent”. For every example of how negative a one-sided codependent relationship is there is likely a reverse example of a healthy relationship based on mutual codependency.

The importance of writing down these few paragraphs is to remind myself that being codependent with another person is not necessarily a bad thing. It is what each of us do in the relationship that determines if it is healthy or not. I am grateful for the insight that came simply because a friend asked a question. Thank you K.!

It is probably not love
that makes the world go around,
but rather those mutually supportive alliances
through which partners recognize their dependence
on each other for the achievement of shared and private goals.
Fred Allen

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