How To Heal From A Codependent Relationship When It Ends

When a relationship ends, things usually feel worse before they feel better. And for recovering codependents, this is especially true. Leaving a codependent relationship should be a personal win, yet the fallout can trigger more confusion than clarity. Use these tips to heal from your codependent relationship so you can move on to happier, healthier love in the future.

  1. Go no contact. Codependent relationships are usually extremely enmeshed, making it hard to remember who you are without them. You may have made yourself constantly available to rescue your ex, or you might’ve depended on them to save you. Either way, your relationship is over, and the only way to avoid becoming entangled again is to go no contact. That means you end all communication, stop checking their social media profiles, and block them from your life.
  2. Evaluate what went wrong. You can identify that your relationship was codependent, which is already an important step in the right direction. But how was it codependent? What made it toxic, and what won’t you tolerate in the future? To truly heal from a codependent relationship, it’s crucial to pinpoint the problems, ignored red flags, and the role you played. That way, you can set yourself up for healthier relationships in the future.
  3. Embrace being single. Codependency is often a way to escape feelings of scarcity or the belief that you’re not good enough. You may have relied on your ex to fill the empty gaps in your life, but truthfully, this only kept you from learning to fill them yourself. Your life is already whole without them, and now is the time to see that. It might take time, but embracing being single allows you to recognize all the opportunities you probably missed before. Now, you’re free to try new things, visit new places, and meet new people to start learning about yourself, your interests, and your needs. And if the single life gets lonely, remember that being in a codependent relationship can feel extremely lonely too. Avoid rushing into a new relationship, where you may fall back on old codependent patterns, and practice getting better at being single.
  4. Be your own hero. Codependency involves two people depending on the other to do things they themselves could do. And this isn’t just taking out the trash or filling up the gas in the car for the other person. Instead, it’s looking to another person to meet your needs, while neglecting yourself in the process. Now that you’re out of your codependent relationship, it’s time to be your own hero. Start practicing self-care and speaking your love language to yourself. When you’re feeling down, start self-soothing instead of always running to someone else to make you feel better. And when you doubt yourself, give yourself the validation you need, instead of resorting to negative self-talk.
  5. Talk to a therapist or trusted friend. If you tend to fall into codependent relationships, it might be related to a bad relationship or deeper trauma from your past. And those roots must be addressed in order to fully heal from your breakup (and avoid having more codependent relationships in the future). This is where it can help to talk to a therapist or a trusted, level-headed friend. They can help to illuminate your blindspots, showing you where you’re making mistakes and what toxic beliefs you’re holding on to.
  6. Find something that matters more than being needed. Your relationship, as toxic as it was, may have felt satisfying if you were needed by your ex. But your purpose is bigger than meeting others’ needs. Learn what actually matters to you outside of your relationships. If you’re used to measuring your worth by how many people you helped or how often you “saved” a partner, it’s time to find other values and principles that matter more. For example, you may start prioritizing authenticity, assertiveness, or your own personal happiness instead.
  7. Practice setting boundaries. You probably struggled with setting boundaries in your relationship. But part of healing from codependency is speaking up and saying no. Start by limiting your responsibilities, especially when they involve helping others. Resist the urge to swoop in to rescue people in your life, especially when they don’t really need rescuing.
  8. Remember what makes you amazing. If you based your identity on how successful your relationship was, you might be forgetting the amazing qualities that make you you. Now’s the time to recognize them! This will help you heal from your breakup and realize that your worth has nothing to do with your ex. If it’s difficult at first, start with a journal or notebook where you list just one or two positive characteristics you possess. Then, when you think of another, write it down, and repeat this process until it gets easier to see that your identity doesn’t depend on your relationship.
  9. Feel your feelings. Getting out of a toxic codependent relationship (whether it was your choice or not) is an accomplishment. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Like all breakups, ending a codependent relationship can be extremely painful, and it might feel like your entire world is crashing down. Remember, breakups usually involve some grieving, so give yourself plenty of time to heal and move on from your ex. Feel all your feelings, eat all the ice cream you want, and listen to as many sad songs as you can fit into one playlist. It will get better, and it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo