Healthy Relationships vs Codependent Relationships (ft. Healthy Boundaries)



hi my name is Kristen Snowden I'm a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California and this is a follow up video to when I did a few months ago titled toxic relationships the love addict love avoidant model as you can imagine from that title I focused in on a toxic relationship cycle that often occurs in the clients that I see and you can go ahead and review that if you want to learn more about that subject however after doing that video I got a lot of email and requests on the subject of if that is a toxic relationship what makes up a healthy relationship so that is what I'm going to be talking about today I'm going to be talking about healthy interdependent relationships versus unhealthy co-dependent relationships and this subject is one of the most important subjects that I could talk about today because I find that we don't really talk about this topic anywhere we don't learn about it in school it's not a subject in our academics we don't really talk about it in our friend circles or our family systems we kind of just muddle our way through learning how to have relationships with other people and I think that's why we struggle with it so much as you know how to have relationships with other people is something that we do every single day we have relationships with our bosses our employees our students our clients our family our co-workers our friends and of course we usually have a significant intimate partner while a lecture like this can apply to all these types of relationships I'm going to focus in more on how to have a healthy interdependent relationship with an intimate partner so I'd like to start with a little bit of review on what I talked about in my first video which is that we are neurobiologically made to connect with other people when we have successful connection with others it feels great we have our body releases a ton of really great feel-good hormones that makes connection feel really wonderful a hug a deep talk sex kissing touching that all releases some really great feel-good hormone stay and keep this up keep connecting conversely our body releases lots of yucky hormones in our inside us when we are unsuccessful at connecting when we have an argument with someone or we're embarrassed because we make some mistake or when we're lying and not being our true selves and we have that underlying fear that if someone really knew what the truth was about me or the type of person that I really was that maybe they wouldn't want to be my loved one or my friend or my colleague anymore so it's really important to understand that we have that a carnal Drive in us to connect with other people and you can learn more about that in that first video or I have some also blogs on the subject connecting with others is great and it's healthy and it's what drives a lot of our behaviors in life the only problem is is that our culture tends to teach us that we are not whole until we find that special someone it doesn't take very long to flick around to a couple different radio stations or watch your TV show to hear a general theme that says I need another person to complete me she's my better half I would die without you there's these concepts that we come up with in our culture and our families and our friends around us that give us this idea that there's this other person out here out there that is going to validate our existence he or she because they think I'm sexy or attractive makes it so because he or she thinks that I'm a good person then it makes it true the problem with that is that tends to create an unhealthy codependent system as you can see from the chart behind me I'm also going to put it on this video a healthy interdependent relationship is one where a person already has his or her self defined he or she already knows what she stands for in life what his or her values are maybe spirituality interests passions friends all those parts of his or her self are complete and the word that I use often is there's integrity so in congruence they say what they mean mean what they say and they realize that they're very imperfect and very flawed but that never stops them from being a worthy human being and they were confident they find another person who has those same qualities and same belief systems and because they are both whole individually separate from one another they can build a living and breathing thing between them which is considered to be their relationship um that relationship is not what defines them or validates them and there's no desperation to keep it there because of those reasons it's just this entity or the medium with which they use to enrich each other's lives to build companionship memories friendship experiences because remember our hormones released a lot of really feel good feelings when we're connecting with other people so we're incentivized to have witnesses in our life and to experience life with others but the big problem is in a codependent relationship if you don't know who you are what you stand for and what is important to you and you are maybe insecure with your qualities and your worth you can let another person or that relationship define you so I explained what a healthy relationship looks like a codependent one is when neither of those people believe that they're whole they may be questioned whether they're good enough smart enough or people like them and they need that other person to validate who they are they count on and are often desperate for that other person in their life and that relationship to tell them what their role is in life and who they should be and what they should be doing as you can imagine codependency and the way I describe codependency because there's a lot of different definitions out there but I believe codependency is when the relationship is not even in a healthy relationship because both people are defined and know who they are and what they stand for in life they can engage with each other on an even platform because they don't need the other person to tell them that they're good enough or smart enough or that they're right or anything like that so there's no wrestling for equality but a codependency when you engage in a relationship where you're not really sure if you're good enough or attractive enough or smart enough and you kind of are seeking that other person up here to tell you that codependency creates a very imbalanced power between the two and it can reverse it can change depending on the dynamic so codependency is when there's an uneven exchange of energy where I can't make a mistake or screw up or watch my partner do the same thing and me not take and not personify it and make it that it was my mistake if I was a better person if I responded better if I do more work faster do heart-like be better than I then that mistake won't happen the problem that you find though is that again back to point a we're all wonderful but very flawed human beings so we're going to screw up all over the place in a relationship there's going to be infidelity overworking overeating over buying um anger management issues parenting problems money problems these issues are going to all occur during not all but they tend to occur during the lifetime of a marriage and if you believe that it's all your fault or conversely that it's all the other person's fault and you personify it then it's going to create a very toxic relationship which is what I talked about in my first video so the key to a healthy interdependent relationship is boundaries which is what I'm going to get to in a minute it's about never ever losing yourself or compromising yourself your values your integrity your congruence for that relationship because that relationship ship the co-author of that relationship is another very flawed individual so to put all your Worth and your value into something that's going to be flawed that's going to screw up that's going to be imperfect is setting yourself up for a lot of pain a lot of damage and a lot of hurt if you can see from that chart behind me and I'll post it up again if you're healthy and that relationship goes away or you know there's infidelity or addiction or other major issues going on and you find that because of your boundaries it's just not healthy for you anymore if you wiped away that relationship you could see that you walk away from it as a whole person but if you're in an unhealthy codependent relationship where it's uneven and enmeshed and there's lots of desperation to keep it there are a lot of blame and a um in poor communication etc if that relationship gets rocky through just basic human flaws and human problems you're not going to be able to handle those conflicts with a clear mind and integrity hence the toxic relationship cycle that I talked about in the first video so anyway I'm going to move on to what makes a healthy relationship I have this here and I'm going to post it um on the website is a link because really this is what I call the Bible for how to relate with other people how to interact with others this is not just a healthy relationship and Riis list for your partner it's for how to deal with your co-workers parents children friends everything and I will just say I'm someone who has a master's in relationships and I will never forget several years ago when someone hand this to me and I really started diving into the subject matter and found that I could highlight most of the unhealthy most of the unhealthy behaviors and it was really disappointing an eye-opening and it also changed my life when I started trying to operate in a healthy column so basically I'm going to read off the ways that you can create a healthy relationship with healthy boundaries you need to be able to say no or yes and you're okay when others say no or yes to you you have a strong sense of self an identity and I'm going to talk about that at the end of this video you respect yourself do you do you respect yourself you expect reciprocity in a relationship you share responsibility and power that's where again I'm talking about the unevenness there can't be unevenness I'm willing to put in as much work as you're willing to put in and we respect each other and we have shared power and equality in the relationship that's huge you know when the problem is yours and when it belongs to someone else so again it's about the accountability this was my screw-up I lied or I was ashamed or I was inconsiderate or no you did all those things and I'd appreciate you not doing them anymore you share personal information gradually in a mutual sharing trusting relationship so you don't just spill the beans to everybody and haven't vetted whether or not they're a safe source for you that is definitely setting yourself up for a lot of hurt and pain because there's people out there who are very imperfect and they may use that information to harm you directly or indirectly you don't tolerate abuse and disrespect you know your own wants needs and feelings and you communicate them clearly this is huge so many of my clients who are miserable in their marriages when it really comes down to it they've essentially lost themselves and they don't even know what they want so before they know it they start walking down a path and they're having an affair with somebody or they're a hundred thousand dollars in debt because they overspend it spent or they're overeating and sick from it or lost their job we really have to take steps to maintain who we are what we stand for what we want what we need and we have to be ok and brave enough to communicate that you are committed to and responsible for exploring nurturing your full potential you are in charge of yourself can't blame anybody else for your failures or shortcomings you're in charge of exploring it and being the best person you can be and you're in charge of your happiness you're responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment you allow others to be responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment so a healthy relationship when you see your partner struggling with oh I don't really know if this is the job that I want to do I don't know if this is what I want to be in life um an unhealthy codependent relationship would say oh you better get your stuff together and figure it out or oh maybe I'll go put some resumes out for you and and see or you know cuz you're you're very uncomfortable with watching them be so uncomfortable however if you know who you are and you take responsibility for your own happiness you can watch them and say let me know how to support you in this process so you communicate to me how I can support you but other than that I'm not responsible for this journey that you're taking trying to figure out what you want to do for a living – not mine but I'm here to support you because again we have that living and breathing thing called a relationship so if you communicate to me what you want what you need how you need it I'm here for you there's no mind-reading and healthy relationships no mind rating you value your opinions and feelings as much as others this is huge and I'm going to talk about this in my gaslighting um video which is another sign of a toxic relationship but there are so many times and again it comes from low self-worth and insecurities but we want to value ourselves as being really empathic and really sympathetic and and that's a great quality to have but you should never let somebody else's feelings and experiences trump your own so um your partnering you can get in a fight and he can say some things and you can experience some things and you can totally listen to his point of view but if ultimately you disagree with what he says his feelings and experience don't trump yours you can stop and say we're gonna have to agree to disagree or I need to sit and think about this for a while but your experience in that moment never is less important than what he's saying or thinking you are able to ask for help when you need it you know your limit and you allow others to define their own limits and you don't compromise your values or Integrity's just to avoid rejection Brene brown dr. Bernie Brown who does a lot of work on shame and guilt has a saying to help guide her in how to have a healthy relationship with others not just her partner but everybody in life that she interacts with and that saying is choose discomfort over resentment so basically she's saying anytime a PTA member asked her to bake cookies when maybe her plate is full and her schedules full or when her husband asked her to do something that she's not comfortable with or can't do she stops and thinks am i choosing to be uncomfortable with saying no to them over the fact that I might just say yes to still be loved and liked and not rejected um I'm secretly resentful that they're sucking me dry and and I'm giving too much and maybe I'm a martyr so that that's a nice way to kind of just sum up these healthy relationships is choose the discomfort of realizing that you can't please everybody all the time and a lot of their stuff and a lot of their experiences have nothing to do with you but it's really important for you to be honest with yourself and others so you're not walking around with a lot of resentments quiet resentment passive aggression anger that comes up somewhere else because that just does not go away I'm going to close this video with a quick questionnaire to see if maybe you're struggling with an unhealthy codependent relationship versus a healthy interdependent one as I mentioned before if you don't know who you are what you stand for walking through your day with integrity and congruence you're going to lose yourself in the relationship and in many different relationships again maybe not just with your intimate partner but with your children family and friends so this is a really good fit to find out if maybe you're struggling with who you are or have lost yourself in your relationships um do you find yourself comparing parts of yourself your life and your relationship and your achievements with others are you always looking to what others are doing to tell yourself if you're on the right track or you need to run faster jump higher pay attention you compare yourself to others do you ever find yourself saying yes when you and much rather say no but then you have that feeling that you just don't want to disappoint somebody or make them mad so you just say yes do you get upset um or extremely bothered when others are upset at you or something you did does it really really get under your skin when you do something whether it's your fault or not you can see that you've made someone unhappy because you really struggle with it do you have a need to be approved by others in order to feel good about yourself so for instance when others are happy you're happy when others are unhappy you're unhappy do you act nice to others on the outside but really feel like gosh I cannot stand that person or I am so angry at you for what you did or said on the inside that's that inner resentment that we are talking about do you often remain silent in order to just keep the peace saying things like you know what I'm just going to be the bigger person in this argument or I'm sure things will get better after he finishes his deadline at work or kids get older or when I start making more money it'll be easier or the famous saying if you know and I'm just not going to think about that right now that really irked me and bothered me but I don't want to talk about it I don't want an argument so I'm just not going to think about it right now I'll go talk it out with my girlfriend but deep down inside there's resentment and anger and hurt do you believe that if you make mistake you have failed and you feel embarrassed of your mistakes so maybe often sometimes you try to hide them so again if you screw it up at work do you actually turn towards your loved ones when you screwed up at work and kind of talk it out to feel better or when you screw up are your loved ones or friends the last people you want to know that you screwed up and oftentimes that defensive mr. nin to blame so like my boss is a real a-hole look at what he did or how he responded so is there a lot of defensive news and blame going on to hide your mistakes because you're so embarrassed of them do you find yourself criticizing others in order to feel better about yourself think about that again it goes back to the comparing do you look at others how their parenting in this grocery store and you go oh I would never do that to my children or people running their businesses or their size or their clothing or their cars and do you have to put other people down in order to make yourself feel better that's really important do you find yourself avoiding looking weak or foolish to others for not having the answer so maybe you don't know but instead of saying you know I just don't know the answer you maybe lie or make something up because you're not comfortable with exposing the fact that you're imperfect do you have to be doing something exceptional in order to feel live or passionate you struggle with that that the monotony of life the boringness of life does it make you feel dead inside do you have to be needed by someone to feel alive yet at the same time you find yourself feeling resentful for being so needed so I'm running around doing all these errands for my husband and my children and there's no way I would set a boundary to say hey my schedule is full I can't do XY and Z for my clients for you guys instead a healthy boundary because I need to be needed but yet I'm running on full drive on the treadmill and I'm just resentful that all these people want so much for me are you fearful of seeking rest while I prepare daily or what might happen do you do you do what you think others will want you to do in order to please them or avoid them getting mad at you so is that how your brain works hmm what does she want me to say what does he want me to do instead of really digging deep and thinking what do I need in this what's my boundary what are my wants and needs in this situation do you use your knowledge and confidence to cover up any feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty so back to that same thing that you're not comfortable with showing that you don't know everything and that you can't do everything so you kind of put on this front that you got this that you're that perfect mom or the perfect employee or the perfect spouse because you truly feel inadequate when your children don't behave well are you afraid of what others might think of you so you get a lot of your value and pride from your children their achievements how they behave etc that's a good indicator if you kind of lost your own values your own sense of self that your role as a parent or a partner is far more important than your role as who I am and what I stand for in life so anyway that is just a rundown of what makes up a healthy interdependent relationship versus an unhealthy codependent one I'm going to be adding subsequent videos on gaslighting and why it's so dangerous it's a really important video I'd love for you to check it out if you're struggling in your relationship you'll probably find that something like that is going on I also do a lot of work on infidelity betrayal trauma betrayal blindness and how to recover from infidelity so I'm going to be talking about a couple of those I also have a lot of this information on my website I'll link it below and thanks for watching if you have any suggestions or things that you'd like me to add or more information please email me thanks you

Michael Martin

29 Responses

  1. … and another video that basically always places the blame for anything ultimately somewhere else, calls every person wonderful, special, worthy and whole and is so full of logical inconsistencies and obvious reasoning errors it's hard to know where to start.

    In the final analysis, all the self-help books in the universe preach (or, intend to preach…) one single thing: *increase the truth-content of your life*. Get rid of false assumptions, fictions, misconceptions, misplaced hopes and other illusions. Know things, people and feeling for what they really are. Everything else, yes, *every single thing*, is never ultimately going to work.

    Perhaps to avoid steep falls going from a big lie to a smaller lie is at times necessary, but ultimately the only single thing that has any hope of working is – Live in Truth. No matter how painful, how cold or disappointing – that is your only salvation, whether you are the poor abused victim or the evil psycho abuser.

  2. I really found you to be 100% on for my circumstances. I am pulling out of codependency at the moment. I find you thorough. Thank you so much! I want to do your job one day!!

  3. Dignity is our best friend that will, by default, teach us healthy boundaries to live by, and of which to expect of others whom wish to share a relationship with us. These healthy boundaries in which you set for yourself, and live by, are in your own best interest; And, in the same way, these same boundaries and principles expected of a mate, are also in "their" best interest, because they are boundaries set up by the selfless guidance of dignity,(they are universal & universally beneficial). Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to be willing to say no to someone.

  4. Friendships and Romantic Relationships,
    I don't know what either are.​

    I'm not sure what healthy ones are supposed to look like, feel like, be like.​

    I just don't know.​

    My past experiences with both have only been mostly miserable and entirely unhealthy.​

    So,​

    I thought I'd start this thread…​

    If any of you care to share what either or both mean to you…​

    Maybe this'll help me gain some clarity?…​

    Unlearn the old and maybe learn something new,​

    Madelaine

  5. I have lost a lot of people changing to a better person and set up boundaries. Mainly family members who i have had to go no contact with for my sanity and safety.At times i feel very alone without anyone who cares if im dead or alive. Its a very lonely road and trying to find healthy people to be friends with is hard too. Is this common?

  6. I agree with this. The only thing I am not sure about is the 'healthy' relationship, as far as intimate, married partners, sounds more like roomates. When do you actually support your spouse through thick and thin? I mean I guess it is more of a case by case basis. If they need a lot of help it should be the exception not the rule. I guess in that case it would be ok. But constantly needing help to stay in shape and eating correctly would be something that is not sustainable.

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