January 10, 2018 Felicia Durling

The Opposite of CoDependency: Counter-dependency and Love Avoidance

Every codependent relationship has two parts. After all, it takes two to have one person become codependent on the other. In a codependent relationship, one has found themselves giving endlessly without receiving anything in return. Needing to please, be accepted, validated, and defined by their significant other, a codependent loses touch with the things (and needs) that make them who they are. Instead, their whole world becomes focused on the partner– their needs, their wants, their every desire. A codependent can learn to take responsibility for his or her disordered behavior and make changes. However, not all the blame is to be put on their neediness. At some level, the other person in the relationship has a neediness too. They find benefit in allowing their needs to be served by the codependent. These needs can be external and internal, though the internal will likely be undefined.

Counter-Dependency and Love Avoidance

Counter-dependency is the term given to the other person in the relationship who uses the caregiving of the codependent to their advantage. They are otherwise non receiving of love out of a deep need to avoid it. At the core of counter-dependency is an inability to trust or be intimate with others. Unrelenting in their independence, counter-dependents base their lives on the fact that they are fully self-supporting in all ways. Instead of displaying true autonomy this actually shows a great fear. Due to traumas of the past and patterns of insecure attachments, the counter-dependent has a fear of what consequences could be faced by trusting and loving others. When the opportunity presents itself to create deep connection, meaning, and emotion with someone else, the counter-dependent will participate in what is called love-avoidance.

Defiant and avoidant, the counter-dependent will find means of staying away from intimate situations or relationships. Especially in a relationship where the other partner is codependent this can lead to a lot of pain and disappointment. Missing out on intimacy from others is a way to protect the counter-dependent from others, but it only contributes to their internal environment of loneliness and true needs that may never be met. Until they learn to open up and be vulnerable, their cycle will not cease.

Overcoming codependency and counter-dependency in relationships is possible, but it takes work. Sometimes it may call for the relationship to end, however, counseling can be of great help. If each partner agrees to do their part separately as well as together, healing may prevail.


If you feel that you are avoiding love and intimate relationships in your life, the Center for Life Change can help you learn to trust. Start by trusting us. Call today for more information. (951) 775-4000

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