Episode #50: Tips for Dismantling the Complying Codependent Dysfunction

If you have ever had that annoying conversation where you say, “Where should we go for dinner?” and your partner or friend responds, “I don’t really care, wherever you pick,” you’ll relate with how frustrating it is to be in relationship with someone who uses the Complying Codependent strategy. These Compliers have a nasty habit of making you the boss, whether you want to be or not by always deferring to what you want and not initiating. But it’s not that they have to. They believe they are doing it because you want them to!

Those who use the Complying Codependent strategy have a greater need to be useful than to relate to others. Compliers see themselves lower on the social hierarchy than their partner or others in their lives. They wait to be told what to do so they can comply, make sure they do things correctly and never get in trouble. They can always be sure they’re doing the right thing if someone else tells them what to do. This approach to relationships means they can maintain the comfort of their “inner cave” where they are safe from rejection, abandonment, and disapproval.

In our 50th episode (what a milestone!), we continue our series of the four Submissive Codependent Strategies used in relationships, deep diving into the Complying Codependent Dysfunction. We talk about how it manifests in relationships and reveal that it is actually a survival coping strategy used by certain personality types because they got stuck in their development. We’ll also recount many stories (our own and of our clients) and share tips and tricks for dismantling this dysfunction. You might recognize yourself, your partner, or your boss in this session, so make sure you listen!

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  • [02:02] Episode Introduction and Overview
  • [03:03] What Is the Complying Codependent Dysfunction?
  • [12:32] Behaviors of the Strategy
  • [25:36] Tips for Dismantling the Strategy
  • [42:07] Episode Gem
  • [44:00] Episode Wrap Up



  • Complying Codependents defer to others to avoid conflict or end a discussion that might lead to conflict, having conversations that are superficial or task oriented. Anyone looking for an equal partnership or collaboration with someone who uses this strategy will run into a lot of relationship issues.
  • The emotional expression of others is perceived as a threat to the Complying Codependent. They find emotions to be unpredictable, unnecessary, and anxiety-producing. They prefer everyone to interact in a logical, pragmatic fashion without messy emotions that create so much distress for them. Believing emotions are problems to be solved, they don’t know how to be useful if their partner is upset as nothing is broken that needs fixing.
  • Complying Codependents are often accused by others of not caring. Whether at work or at home, they can appear to be in a holding pattern waiting for something to happen or for someone to tell them what to do. Complying codependents aren’t always sure what to talk about and are often unable to tolerate even simple personal conversations or conversations where there is brainstorming or problem-solving.
  • If you are struggling in relationships because you or others are using the Complying Dysfunctional Codependent Strategy, you are not alone. 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 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."

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