Examining Codependent Relationships (COD Lesson)

This lesson describes the helping, rescuing, and enabling behaviors that define codependent relationships. In an effort to help a loved one, we often cringe when their actions bring unpleasant consequences. We wish we could interrupt the inevitable. Reducing the consequence for someone may appear helpful at first, but reducing the pain of a consequence often reduces the behavior change that a consequence is expected to bring. This lesson reveals eleven strategies to set personal limits, define your boundaries, and navigate difficult relationships successfully.

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What happens if someone pushes a doorbell? The doorbell rings. When the stove is left on high, the water boils over. From very young we learn our actions have consequences.

Sometimes these are pleasant, but sometimes they are not.

When we do not like them, we may argue, resist, and complain, but consequences come anyway, rudely intruding without permission. The results of our actions are often predictable, whether we like them or not.

Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, alcoholism, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.


In our effort to help loved ones, we often cringe when their actions bring unpleasant consequences. We want to stop the inevitable, and when we cannot prevent the problematic actions, we sometimes try to eliminate, delay, or minimize the consequences for them if we can. When they drive too fast and get a speeding ticket, we pay the fine.

If they wake up late, we bring them to work or school. If they get drunk, we call in to work explaining they are sick. This becomes a problem as the natural consequences for their actions are interrupted, or even halted.

Reducing the consequence for someone may appear helpful at first, but lessening the pain caused by their actions decreases the likelihood of there being a change in behavior. If we separate actions and consequences for them, we take away their learning opportunity and hinder their growth.

When we rescue others from the consequences of their choices, we will only have to do it again. The natural effects of their actions must be allowed to play out. By not allowing them to learn from their mistakes, they learn the solution to their troubles comes from someone else.

This pattern harms everyone involved.

This worksheet will help you to examine co-dependent relationships.

Here are links related content:

Examining Codependent Relationships – Worksheet 1 (COD)
A Better Understanding Of Codependent Behaviors
Making Necessary Changes In A Codependent Relationship
Rescuing Others