Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

Love Lessons: A Guide to Dating Someone Who is Codependent

Posted: October 25, 2014 by Jeff Guenther

Sometimes you might feel like your codependent partner is needy and dramatic, but maybe their need for reassurance is why you love them in the first place. They like to cuddle and hold your hand and are always eager to play your favorite roles. But they can sometimes have extreme reactions.

Before things get out of control, try out these tips for dealing with your codependent better half.

Tip 1. Don’t be so defensive. Your partner telling you that you’ve failed isn’t the ideal way for them to ask for love and attention, but as much as you might want to defend yourself or fight back, understand that their comments are coming from a place of insecurity. Try listening. Let your partner express how they feel. Save interruptions for a better time.

Tip 2. Understand their experience. You might think your partner is overreacting. You might think they are making no sense whatsoever, but feeling unloved can be a scary emotional experience, and you don’t want your partner to think you are dismissive of their feelings. Try mirroring back in your own words how unloved your partner is feeling. If they feel understood by you, their anxiety will lessen. Promise.

Tip 3. Set clear expectations and boundaries. Sometimes your partner simply can’t calm down. You might feel burnt out and helpless, but calmly explain that you care about them, that both of you are clearly upset, and that there is nothing you can say to make both of you feel better. Take a temporary time out. It’s helpful to give an exact time of when you’d like to talk again--later tonight, an hour, tomorrow after work. Don’t say “I’ll talk to you when I feel like it.”

Tip 4. Show your love. If you want to ignore your partner and play games and be withholding and act like a player, don’t blame me when they can’t take it anymore and decide to key your car. You’d probably deserve it, because your partner deserves better than secrets. What they deserve is your love. The more love you put into the emotional piggy bank, the more secure your codependent partner will feel about the relationship. So send texts. Lots of them. Send emojis that make absolutely no sense at all. Show your partner that you’re thinking about them and they’ll show you all the characteristics that make you love them.

Click here to see all the therapists in Portland that treat codependency issues.

Tags: mood and feelings, relationship and family, anxiety, love lessons

Jeff Guenther (he/him)

Licensed Professional Counselor


I help people who feel anxious in relationships stop feeling anxious in relationships.

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Client Status
not accepting clients
Anxiety, Codependency, Adjustment Disorder, Relationship / Marriage Issues, Self-Esteem