Common Codependency Traits

Common Codependency Traits

Excerpt from Upcoming
“The Codependency Revolution”
Released with workbook on November 1, 2023

Written by Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Self-Love Recovery Institute — President/CEO
PsychotherapistEducatorAuthorExpert Witness


Although codependency has been understood and even identified by its traits, the two are the same. For the entire duration of codependency’s history, the world has confused highly variable personality traits, dysfunctional habits, distorted thought and belief patterns, repetitive patterns of behavior, and relationship history with the actual disorder. It is because of this reason and others that, with a sense of urgency, I have developed the material you are now reading.

The original partner of the addict community, the followers and supporters of Melody Beattie and her contemporaries, and the global Co-Dependents Anonymous communities embrace and adopt a sprawling and diverse definition of codependency based primarily on a long list of personality traits, character flaws, and dysfunctional traits and characteristics. The bad news is nothing could be further from the truth. The good news is in the next paragraph!

Personality traits being independent of codependency is one of the most significant of my codependency discoveries. As demonstrated in the preceding chapter, the codependency field lost its way when it tried to become too many things to too many people Accumulating various definitions and lists of traits or characteristics did not lead to more clarity and understanding. Instead, it fueled unfair and often inaccurate stereotypes while focusing on what codependents did versus the inner workings of their poor mental health.

Widely varying definitions and lists used to clarify codependency appear to cause more harm than help. Because they are based on subjective explanations, interpretations, and unverifiable suppositions of causality while lacking an organizing theoretical or conceptual model, no one really knows what it is. Adding fuel to this fire is the inclusion of traits and characteristics found in codependents and pathological narcissists.

Such traits include but are not limited to dishonesty, manipulation, relationship infidelity, drug abuse or addiction, anger management, controlling attempts, and passive or overt aggression. If negative perpetrator traits are only assigned to the narcissists and positive victim-based to codependents, then a shroud of denial and accidental misinformation will obstruct our understanding of this condition. Therefore, negative seeming traits are independent of codependency and pathological narcissism. 

If lists of characteristics and traits are to be used, they must be vetted for accuracy. The below list is a handpicked group of codependency traits that have not been discussed in other parts of this chapter. These traits do not define codependency but reflect the symptoms of a more profound foundational problem.


  1. Anxiety when around healthy people
  2. Blames themselves for the mistakes made by others.
  3. Confuses work boundaries and expectations from those governing personal relationships
  4. Constantly scanning people’s faces for advanced warnings
  5. Constantly seeking reassurance that everything is okay
  6. Despite being inherently honest, compulsively trying to prove they are not lying
  7. Despite contrary evidence, discourages people from worrying about them
  8. Difficulty in identifying and expressing emotions
  9. Excessive compliance with suggestions and requests
  10. Fears/avoids most forms of conflict
  11. Feels guilty, selfish, or needy when asking for help
  12. Frightened to engage in disagreements
  13. Good at solving everyone else’s problems except their own
  14. Guilt-ridden when they disappointed, upset, or hurt another person
  15. Harshly self-critical, especially when making a mistake
  16. Hypervigilance for potential consequences, problems, or dangers
  17. Immediate boundary reversal or retraction following a complaint
  18. Immediately stops talking when another person starts to talk (or talks over them)
  19. Upsets others because of gaging boundaries inaccurately
  20. Low to absent self-esteem, self-love, and self-worth
  21. Mumbles or talks under their breath when upset or when asked to clarify boundaries
  22. Prefers solitude or isolation over once-appreciated social experiences
  23. Preoccupied with the problems, struggles, and needs of others
  24. Proud of having few needs and willingness to sacrifice
  25. Relationships with unclear, and enmeshed boundaries
  26. Self-care is secondary to caring for others
  27. Supports the needs, goals, and dreams of others while devaluing their own
  28. Tongue-tied when asked about their preferences
  29. Unintentionally violating the boundaries of others
  30. Voluntarily takes on unsustainable amount of personal, family, and work responsibilities
  31. Worried about upsetting someone because of an unintentional mistake


Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, is Self-Love Recovery Institute’s CEO and primary contributor. His internationally recognized expertise includes pathological narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and attachment trauma. Ross’s Codependency Cure™ Treatment Program provides innovative and results-oriented treatment.

Ross’s expert educational and inspirational seminars have earned him international acclaim, including his 23 million YouTube video views and 255K subscribers. In addition to being featured on national TV and radio, his Human Magnet Syndrome books sold over 155K copies and are published in 12 languages. Ross provides expert testimony/witness services.

In 2022, Ross created The Self-Love Recovery Podcast, featuring the groundbreaking information contained in his YouTube videos, along with other life-changing original content. Expect to be educated, informed, and inspired to heal from Self-Love Deficit Disorder™ (codependency) and narcissistic abuse like never before! Available now on all major podcast platforms!
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