Episode #41: Submissive Dysfunctional Codependent Strategies

Does this sound familiar? Despite doing all you can to hold your relationship together, and everything you’ve sacrificed to make it work, it’s still dysfunctional and you’re still miserable. The more you try to “fix” your partner or figure out new ways of approaching them to change their behavior, the worse it gets. Frustrating, isn’t it? That’s because while we try to rescue our partner, child or friend and fix the relationship, we should actually be focusing on ourselves and how we are contributing to the codependent relationship, recognizing the developmental delay that has us acting like the only power we have is to decide to submit and conform.

There are 8 distinct codependent strategies in total: 4 are strategies used to dominate in the relationship (if you curious to learn more about them, make sure you check out episode #40 – Dominant Dysfunctional Codependent Strategies) and 4 are submissive strategies. Those who tend to be submissive in a codependent relationship, will act out from one of the four Codependent Submissive Strategies: Compliant, People Pleasing, Self-devaluing and Self-deception.

In today’s episode, we explore the different Submissive Strategies, talk about how each of them manifests in relationships and reveal that they are actually survival coping strategies that begin in our childhood. We’ll also recount many stories (our own and of our clients’) and share tips and tricks for dismantling Submissive Behavioral Strategies used in codependent relationships 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, check out:


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  • [01:29] Episode Introduction and Overview
  • [02:24] Dominant vs. Submissive Codependent Strategies
  • [07:14] Compliant Strategy
  • [16:38] People Pleasing Strategy
  • [29:25] Self-devaluing Strategy
  • [33:08] Self-deception Strategy
  • [44:19] Episode Gem
  • [47:54] Episode Wrap Up



  • Compliant, People Pleasing, Self-devaluing and Self-deception strategies manifest themselves in different ways in relationships, but they all are used to get the other person to take responsibility for them by giving in, going along and praising the other person for their help. While pop psychology definitions tell us these are learned behaviors, they’re actually intrinsic survival strategies begun in childhood to ensure psychological security and well-being.

  • For submissive codependents who submit to keep themselves out of harms way and manage their anxiety and fear of being alone, they need to learn to assert themselves and develop conflict management skills. You must recognize they feel threatened by conflict and learn to tolerate differences without feeling rejected. Think about what the purpose is for you using the strategy. Are you afraid that if you don’t submit, you’ll feel anxious or lose the relationship; that it will prevent conflict? Make a note of what you are afraid of and why.

  • If you are struggling in relationships because you or others are using Submissive Dysfunctional Codependent Strategies, you are not alone. Listen to the episode to learn more about the many strategies that create codependent relationships. Contact us for more information on how we can help.



"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."

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