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Emotional Issues
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Dependent & Codependent Relationships
Codependence & Counter-dependence Martyn Carruthers 2000

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

Dependence is normal for children and sick people.
We help adults develop interdependent cooperation.

Do you ignore your own needs? Can you say "No!" - and follow through?

Entangled Relationships

In your desire to express and receive love, you may become entangled. You may lose your sense of freedom, purpose and happiness. You may suffer ... a lot. We can help you manage your emotions and solve relationship problems.

Dependent people usually try to avoid responsibility, endlessly complain, whine, blame others, tell lies and avoid the consequences of their actions. Dependent people avoid becoming adults - they prefer to manipulate other people. See Codependence.

Some dependent people offer their bodies in trade for goods or protection. (See Emotional Incest, Mother's Little Prince and Daddy's Little Princess). This is common in relationships in which abuse is not only tolerated but expected.

Counter-Dependence & Inter-Dependence

Most two-year olds and teenagers enjoy saying, "No!" to offers of help. Some people dislike any dependence - counter-dependent people prefer to do things alone, perhaps avoiding relationships. This may result in them feel isolated and depressed.

A solution is inter-dependent relationships, where members recognize their mutual dependence and a need for cooperation. Cooperative support provides a common ground for mature, healthy relationships and an end to learned helplessness.

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency.
Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness
with the universe or suppress his egotism.
Mahatma Gandhi

Are you Dependent?

You are emotionally dependent if you believe that your security
or self-esteem requires the ongoing care of another person.

Do you define love as behavior that fulfills your needs? Does your love require that one of you be needy? If someone stops providing something that you want - would you end this suddenly-unloving relationship? Dependent people often express chronic anger, depression and anxiety.

Are you preoccupied with someone? Do you feel a sense of loss when you can't be close? Do you need to be a person's exclusive love and their only companion? Are you jealous? Are you unable to make decisions without that person's approval?

Solutions for Dependent Relationships

Relationship Example Challenges Example Solutions

All relationships

Your life does not make sense

Depression, Anxiety, Obsessions, Despair, Psychosomatic symptoms, Compulsions

Identify and clarify entanglements. Help people manage emotions and solve relationship problems


A person attempts to control, manipulate or victimize other family members

A person attempts to avoid responsibility, or to take over other member's responsibilities.

Tough Love: Parents can monitor, maintain and enrich family harmony.

Family Meetings: Members know each other's responsibilities


A person seeks people with problems as "friends", to fulfill a need to "help" people.

A person only wants "helpful" friends

Self-reliant friends who do not want help to be a basis for friendship.


(Coach, Counselor, Consultant, Therapist, Healer, etc)

A helping professional depends on clients to create a sense of purpose in life.

A helping professional wants friendly or intimate relationships with clients.

A sense of purpose and self-respect

Healthy relationships outside of working relationships


Team member depends on other members do his or her work or take his or her responsibilities.

Team member wants to do other members work or take their responsibilities.

Coach a team leader to select team members based on relationship skills as well as expertise.

A team leader can use team process to recognize and correct behavior.


A person wants a partner who will act as a "parent", "sibling" or "child".

A person does not fulfill responsibilities OR person tries to fulfill partner's responsibilities

A person becomes anxious, angry or depressed if partner is happy or successful

Help people observe themselves and potential partners before commitment.

Define and fulfill own and partner responsibilities, and support partner to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

Coach partners to encourage each other's development, success and happiness.


A parent needs a child and sabotages a child's maturity.

A parent acts like a "child" of the child

A parent treats a child as a possession or servant, rejecting the child's individuality.

Parents find mature friends

Help people to untangle and clarify relationships with parents.

Family meetings can improve family health.



People avoid responsibilities and depends on a community, government or state.

A person wants to control the collective behavior of a community or country.

Few solutions are possible until people want to change.

A person should first fulfill partnership and parenthood responsibilities.





A person avoids responsibility and depends on humanity, the universe, a deity or a philosophy to somehow provide food, shelter and life goals without effort.

These people may try to create dependent relationships in all categories.

Few solutions are possible until suffering motivates desire.

Some people would rather die than change their dependent beliefs.

Some unhealthy behaviors are so common that you may not call them unhealthy. Consider the relationship messages in fairy tales, Hollywood movies and marketing campaigns. Listen critically to the lyrics of popular love songs. You are bombarded by images of dependent people! Dependence has become normal.

Two golden keys for resolving dependence are integrity and maturity. We help people experience their integrity and develop their maturity as a basis for changing immature, dependent relationships. We help people create healthy relationships.

Contact us to manage your emotions and solve relationship problems.

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2000-2018 All rights reserved.

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
please mention or

For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

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Soulwork systemic coaching in Poland



Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email