Episode #39: Dysfunction of Codependent Relationships

Would you consider yourself codependent? When asked that question, some people will say yes, and others will say, no, but I think my partner is. Most of the time we equate Codependency with a clingy, needy person who takes a lot of abuse from their partner, boss, children, and friends. We may think of Codependency as the peacekeeper in relationships, putting needs aside and taking care of others or of someone who constantly blabbers or complains about their partner and never talks about themselves or their own needs. Even worse, people like that never accept advice.

As they say, it takes two to tango and if two people form a relationship with one being a dominant and one a submissive person, as with most role-driven patriarchal, traditional marriages, both people are codependent. As a general needs a soldier to boss around and a caretaker needs a patient to care for, both are meeting psychological survival needs.

In today’s episode, we explore the Dysfunction of Codependent Relationships, talk about multiple myths surrounding this Dysfunction (did you know it is not a mental illness?), uncovering less talked about realities that can empower anyone hiding out behind the shield of Codependency. We’ll also recount numerous stories (our own and of our clients’) and share tips and tricks for developing from Codependency that you can start implementing today. Tune in to make sure you don’t miss out on the gems we share this week!

If you want to know more about Anne & Heather’s work with dismantling dysfunctions in organizations and leadership behavior at Caliber Leadership Systems, check out:




Stop contributing to organizational dysfunction. Pick up your copy of So, You Think You Can Lead?: A Guide to Developing Your Leadership Authority and Potential

Make sure you sign up for our weekly newsletters for tips on how to dismantle dysfunction and develop your leaders: https://bit.ly/dismantlingdysfunction

Are you dealing with an organizational dysfunction you need help with? Or do you have a story you would like to share on our show? Contact us at [email protected].



  • [01:33] Episode Introduction and Overview
  • [02:25] What Codependency Is and What It Is Not
  • [07:45] Codependency and the Archetypes of Survival
  • [21:36] Myths and Realities of Codependency
  • [33:06] Episode Gem
  • [35:36] Episode Wrap Up



  • Codependency and codependent relationships are surrounded by myths. The most important to note is that Codependency is a developmental delay of childhood and NOT a mental illness although people tend to approach it as though it is. As a result, they think they have to recover from it instead of developing through it.
  • The Codependent Developmental Stage happens from puberty to our early 20s. This is a time when we can survive physically on our own, but our brain and relationship development apparatus still require another decade before it moves to the Adult Stage of Development. If our development is thwarted during this time, this is the relationship pattern we are left with to form our adult relationships with.
  • Codependency is a self-protective coping strategy with two people operating from survival needs. One needs attention and constant support to survive, and the other needs to give attention and support to survive. They are equally dysfunctional although we mostly see the codependent person as the one who is the victim of someone whose self-protective style is to dominate.
  • Do you feel like the folks in your personal or work life are stuck in the Codependency Stage of development? Listen to the full episode to learn how to develop from it and make the shift from living from our Self-protective Personas.




"Deciding to compensate for poor performance instead of managing it is an act of self- disempowerment."
episode 18 quote tile 2 - "When acting from the Victim Leadership Persona, our power and sense of personal agency is taken away by seeing situations through a  lens of helplessness."
episode 18 quote tile 3 - "Self-disempowerment starts from within. Leaders need to recognize when they are keeping their self-esteem low."
episode 18 - quote tile 4 - "Leaders need to watch that they aren't being pulled into the position  of rescuer when interacting with employees."

Did you enjoy this episode?

If so, sign up for our newsletter and get exclusive access to some of our best content!

Plus, we’ll keep you in the loop – you’ll be among the first to know when we’ve hit “upload” on a new podcast, article, or YouTube video!