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A comparison of Counter-dependency and Co-dependency

Image of 2 red roses against blurred green background. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, co-dependency, Katherine Broadway

Much has been written about co-dependency, its characteristics and the many ways it impacts relationships. Little has been written about the other side of the coin: counter-dependency. When circumstances are right, the co-dependent and counter-dependent will change roles. Even though they look very different they are both a product of fear. One is not worse than the other or more painful than the


A comparison of the two will make counter-dependency easier to understand.

1. Co-dependents cling to others, wanting to have their partner around at the cost of everything. They are generally afraid of being alone. Counter-dependents push others away because they have a fear of closeness. They are terrified of rejection. Being alone is far easier that finding and making new friends.

2. Co-dependents see relationships as safety, it protects them from feeling their feelings of inadequacy and not being wanted. Counter-dependents see relationships as dangerous, a sure way to be hurt and smothered. They do not believe that they can take care of themselves in a relationship. Confronting a friend or partner feels overwhelming. It is just easier make distance or to not care.

3. A co-dependent thinks they need others far more than they actually do. Being with others, blocks the feelings of not being wanted, not being liked and not being worthwhile. They believe they need to be with someone every free moment. A counter-dependent believes they need others far less than they do. They will say:“I don't need anyone, I don't miss anyone, I love being alone.” As humans we are created to need others. A counter-dependent believes the lie that they do not need anyone

4. When a co-dependent feels someone withdrawing or creating distance, they will pursue. A counter-dependent will cut their losses and run. It looks like it does not matter to them if you leave, yet the opposite is true: they are terrified of rejection and being left.

5. Counter-dependents see the world from the view point that it is dangerous.Therefore, they can only see the world from their point of view. Because the world is dangerous, they must exert as much control as they can over places, events and people, in order, to protect themselves.

6. Because the world is so dangerous, a counter-dependent is usually a perfectionist. They work hard to be seen as good and successful. They need to be in charge, because they become anxious if there is any delay, mistakes or mishaps that might impact their being seen as excellent in all they do. This leads to an inflated sense of self-esteem while underneath they feel insecure and afraid of failure.

7. A co-dependent will show their feelings on the outside and act them out. A counter-dependent keeps their feelings inside all the time. Many times, they no longer feel their feelings because they have buried them so deep and cut them off.

8. A co-dependent will minimize problems in a relationship. They will blame themselves and go into denial about difficulties. A counter-dependent may interpret their friends' and partners' behavior as rejecting, when it is not. They believe if they identify the problem early, then they have an opportunity to run before they get hurt.

9. A co-dependent sees need and being needy as a way of life. A counter-dependent finds needs, life-threating. They believe that if they cannot meet their own needs, no one will help. If someone does help, the price will be very high. They do not trust the motives of others. They act like they are strong and invincible while being anxious inside.

10. A counter-dependent believes it is inevitable that someone will have to leave. They are so terrified of abandonment and so sure it will happen that they will abandon a person and relationship before they can be abandoned. They can only see the version of a relationship they fear.

Like co-dependents, counter-dependents want to loved and to love.

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