Difference Between Codependent and Interdependent

Many people talk about codependency in relationships, but it can be confusing. So, let’s dive into codependency, what causes it, and what it looks like. We’ll also discuss what tools can enable us to become healthier and interdependent in our post-divorce life.

What is Codependency in a Relationship?

It’s important to remember that we’re hardwired for love and belonging. We women work best in a community.

It takes a village to raise a child. Relationships are where so much of the magic happens, but they’re also where a lot of the pain happens.

Codependency is a tendency to give up your power in exchange for somebody else’s power or influence. It’s a tendency to believe that you’re not okay unless somebody else is approving of you, validating you, or providing you with something you perceive that you can’t provide yourself.

Being codependent in a relationship becomes a problem because, at its core, you have a belief of “I can’t. I need you to do it for me.”

And so while asking for help is so important in our lives – in the way we live, love, parent, and partner – we ask for help not because we don’t believe we can do something, it’s because we can ask for help. That’s what makes meaningful, connected, and vulnerable experiences in life.

What is being interdependent?

Interdependence in relationships refers to a balanced and mutually supportive dynamic between individuals.

In an interdependent relationship, each person maintains a sense of individuality and autonomy while also relying on and supporting their partner.

It’s the best-case scenario and what we women deserve. It involves a healthy exchange of emotional, practical, and social support.

woman with long blonde hair and blue short dress is comforting a man with short dark hair and glasses, leaning over on the sofa, Difference Between Codependent and Interdependent

Codependency comes in many shapes.

Codependency often leads to an anxious attachment style.

You feel like you can’t soothe yourself or you can’t be alone.

If you feel that way, you’re more likely to pick a partner that reinforces those beliefs. You then feel trapped and need to please your partner so they can’t “abandon” you.

You can’t abandon adult women. We are capable of caring and providing for ourselves. But we get into this false idea that we can’t do that, which leads to feelings of abandonment and disempowerment.

So much of healing codependency is about being able to rebuild a sense of empowerment.

So, what causes codependency in relationships? It has long been believed that codependency comes out of dysfunctional family dynamics. Melody Beattie has written a book about it that has become one of my favorite tools in divorce recovery.=

Beattie and many others have talked about family dynamics being at the root of codependency. But when we look at the statistics, the data says that between 75 and 90 percent of the population displays codependent traits, which tells me it can’t just be dysfunctional family dynamics that lead to becoming codependent in relationships. It’s hard to believe that we are experiencing that much lack of belief in ourselves. I do think there are a lot of families out there that are dysfunctional, but they still raise their children in a way that teaches them what they can achieve on their own.

produce lined up on a soil sprinkled line, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, spring onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.

There are also societal factors that encourage codependency, such as the systematic disempowerment in US culture. We used to know that we could grow our food, we could dig our fence posts, or we could heal ourselves using natural medicines.

We now feel like we are dependent on the government, doctors, and other people to provide us with the things that we need, and we’re no longer grounded in our ability to heal disease and feed our families.

I think, as women, we’ve been taught that we can’t be beautiful unless we have certain clothes or a certain body type. We have disempowered ourselves by spending so much of our money on our appearance. But we can get re-grounded in what is true: We are powerful.

Solutions and tools that address codependency

Now that we discussed the difference between codependent and interdependent, let’s stay focused on the solution. So, why are the Law of Attraction and EMDR some of my favorite ways to address codependency?


EMDR is one of the most powerful tools against codependency because it gets to the internalized negative belief of “I can’t” or “I’m not strong enough.”

It turns that negative belief into a positive belief. It also reprocesses and desensitizes all the memories and experiences you’ve had in life that led you to believe that you’re not powerful enough. EMDR fundamentally transmutes codependency.

Homeopathy balls in glass bottle


I’ve seen homeopathy do so much for creating healthy attachments and being interdependent.

There are a handful of remedies that allow a person to suddenly realize that they’re safe and encourage them to set a boundary – that they’re worthy of love.

We women have to retrain our brains, and that’s a process. 

The Reticular Activating System and Codependency 

One of the tools to retrain our brain is an understanding of the reticular activating system.

The reticular activating system is a part of our brain that starts at the top of our spinal cord. It functions as a bridge between our subconscious and conscious mind.

A really good example of this is driving. When you see brake lights in front of you, your foot automatically moves toward the brake pedal before you can even think. That is your reticular activating system at work.

It sorts through all the data and filters out what is necessary for you to respond and react to, as well as what is not necessary.

What does it have to do with recognizing the difference between codependent and interdependent relationships? Our reticular activating system is programmed based on repetition, and it filters things in and out that it believes we women need to respond to.

So, for instance, if you believe, “I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy, and I don’t believe I’m good enough unless you validate me,” your reticular activating system will filter out data that says, “I am worthy, and I am valuable.”

Our brain cannot handle processing every piece of data that comes at us all day long.

For example, if you were once hit in the face by a basketball, and then you walked into a gym later on in your life and somebody was playing basketball, you would be more hypervigilant about where that basketball is. Whereas if you never had a negative experience with basketball, you probably.

When we do EMDR and use homeopathy, the reticular activating system becomes more flexible in what it’s filtering in and out.

copper singing bowl with wooden stick next to it, crystals on the side

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction is linked to the reticular activating system.

It listens when we set intentions and say to ourselves, “The Law of Attraction states that I’m a vibrational being, and I am attracting things to me that are a vibrational match.

If my life isn’t great right now, it means that I have been vibrating at that level. If I want my life to reach a different status, I have to start vibrating at a higher frequency. I have to start intentionally moving upwards in the emotional scale towards higher levels of vibration.

Depression, grief, and hopelessness are very low on the vibrational scale, whereas joy, knowledge, and empowerment are way up at the top.

We women need to raise our vibrational scale to attract these high-frequency things. 

Setting Intention with the reticular activating system

Set the intention with your reticular activating system: “I intend to heal from this divorce, I intend to heal codependency, I intend to have a secure relationship at some point in my life. I intend to feel desirable. I intend to feel good about myself.”

These intentions are the opposite of being codependent. These intentions are helping you become independent. When we start to create these intentions, the reticular activating system says, “Oh, let me look for evidence that these ideas are true.” Then, you start to see the things in your environment that reinforce that you are worth it and that you’re good enough.

As you stay consistent with that, it builds on itself.

written in sand 'I Can and I Will', Difference Between Codependent and Interdependent

I Can and I Will

If you want to become interdependent in your life after divorce, start spotting the places where you have a hard time believing you can or are not feeling good about yourself.

The Law of Attraction says, “I can and I will vibrate higher and create amazing things.”

When you do this, you feel the motivation to let go of resentment, the negativity and stop focusing on what your ex is doing.

You know the difference between codependent and interdependent now.

Write it in your journal: “I intend to heal my codependency.”

Gradually, you will start watching it heal itself, one day at a time. If you still find that you’re relapsing a lot in codependency or that you’re getting months into this type of practice and it still feels very hard, that’s when you know you might need some additional tools, such as consistent EFT tapping, a well-paired homeopathic remedy or EMDR therapy.

Pull out that journal and write it down: “I intend to heal codependency this year.”

You’ve got this.

Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins

...helps people crack open. Challenging the status quo, she integrates multiple modalities from EMDR to EFT tapping, journaling, homeopathy, and movement, embracing remedies that heal both the mind and body. Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins is on a mission to deliver life-changing therapy in an accessible, scalable, affordable way and make waves in the world of mental health with the same enlightenment that happens in her office. Part science, part essential oils, pure magic.

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