• Kennedy McLean

Interdependence Vs. Codependency

As humans we are inherently dependent on others, decades of research has shown this. As babies, we are vulnerable and require care not only for basic survival but to thrive. Our brains don’t finish maturing until halfway through our 20’s and we live in groups (otherwise known as families).

What exactly is the difference between co-dependency and interdependency? This is something that comes up often.

Understanding Codependency

The term codependent has been around for years and was originally used to refer to spouses of alcoholics. Codependency is characterized by someone belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behaviour.

In codependent relationships partners often display the following:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Poor boundaries

  • Reactivity

  • Caretaking

  • Difficulty communicating

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others

Healthy Relationships: Interdependence

In contrast to codependency, interdependence is not about needing your partner. Interdependence is choosing your partner every day. Interdependence values emotional intimacy while allowing you to maintain a strong sense of self.

In interdependent relationships partners most often:

  • Communicate clearly and actively listen

  • Set healthy boundaries

  • Listen actively

  • Take responsibility for their actions

  • Repair injuries quickly

  • Create time for personal interests

  • Bargain with each other to create win-win situations

  • Engage and respond to each other

  • Don’t keep parts of themselves hidden to please their partner

If you are struggling to maintain your sense of self in your relationship, or feel a lack of balance, reach out for a consult. Couples counselling can help you and your partner learn to function in a way that benefits both of you, where you are both equals.

Book a free 15 minute consult now

About Kennedy

I have been working in the field of addiction and mental health for almost 10 years. I am currently a therapist in private practice based out of Etobicoke and I treat clients throughout Ontario.   

My practice currently focuses on trauma, attachment, couples therapy. I work with people of all ages. As a therapist, I am trained to treat a variety of concerns such as stress, depression, anxiety, relationship distress, and grief for example.

Anything written in my blog posts is my own thoughts. They are intended to offer information that may be interesting or useful for contemplation.


Nothing I have written is intended to be a substitute for seeking professional help.

-Kennedy McLean