Best Books on Codependency

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Advices, Couple

To begin, books are a great resource for gaining insights and learning ways to fix a codependent relationship. In this article, we’ll list the best books on codependency from seasoned psychologists and authors. 

Codependent relationships aren’t happy or healthy. While codependency is often seen in romantic relationships, it can also be a pattern between family members or friends. Such a relationship can affect either person’s mental and emotional health and those around them. 

Concerningly, since codependency isn’t an illness, there’s no formal diagnosis. That makes it harder to recognize and resolve. However, many resources can be used to learn about codependent relationships, the signs of codependency, and how to overcome it. 

What Is Codependency? 

Codependency in a relationship involves relying on a partner emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

It’s commonly linked with addiction, as codependency often exists in relationships where one partner is involved in alcohol or substance abuse. The codependent partner feels responsible for the care of the other and often suppresses their own needs for their partner. As a result, they suffer emotionally and mentally, as they put themselves second. 

Importantly, experts believe that codependency is linked with problematic attachment styles that people develop during childhood. It can also be caused by poor self-esteem. The person is simply unable to establish boundaries and say no. However, research suggests that codependency causes can also be biological. 

Moreover, besides addiction, individuals in a codependent relationship may also have a mental disorder, such as personality or anxiety disorders

Some signs of codependency are:

  • Difficulty saying no and putting your partner on a pedestal
  • Feeling bad for your partner even when they’ve done something wrong
  • Doing things for your partner that make you feel uncomfortable or distressed
  • Not giving yourself due attention 
  • Feeling the need to rescue your partner from difficult situations

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Best Books on Overcoming Codependency 

A codependent person has lost their sense of self. They give their all to their partner and often don’t get the love, respect, and support they deserve in response. As codependency normally springs from one’s own psychological issues, the solution is to work on yourself. 

It’s important to realize that you’re codependent and your relationship is unhealthy. Accepting that is the first step in the direction of healing. No standard treatment criteria exist as it’s not a disease or condition. However, therapy can be of immense help. 

Individual therapy for yourself or couples therapy for you and your partner can unlock the doors to overcoming codependency. 

Similarly, self-help books on codependency can empower you with information and coping techniques that will restore your sense of self and allow you to establish boundaries. 

10 Best Books on Codependency

Whether you suspect you’re in a codependent relationship or you’re sure, the following books have helped many people like you understand and overcome codependency. 

1. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melodie Beattie

One of the best-selling codependence self-help books, Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie, is a comprehensive guide for codependent individuals in any relationship. It has been trusted, used, and praised by millions worldwide for its no non-sense, straightforward advice. 

Published in 1986, it was one of the first books to introduce the concept of codependence, a term originally from the chemical dependence field. After three decades, it continues to be a valid resource for individuals who have struggled with being codependent on people. 

This book can be combined with the Codependent No More workbook, which allows you to track your progress. 

2. Codependence for Dummies by Darlene Lancer

Codependence for Dummies is a fantastic guide for people unsure about accepting their codependent tendencies. It simplifies the concept and lists the obvious and some not-so-apparent signs to help people learn whether they’re codependent. 

It can also be educational for someone who suspects a loved one to be involved in a codependent relationship. But it’s not just a book about what codependency is, it also puts out practical tips to overcome it. This is the best choice for anyone who hasn’t quite pinned down the meaning of codependency.  

3. Facing Codependence: What Is Is, Where It Comes from, and How It Sabotages Our Lives by Pia Mellody, Andrea Wells Miller, and J. Keith Miller

For adults in codependent relationships, Facing Codependence is a well-researched and thought-out guide to recognizing the patterns of codependency. The authors focus on the themes of childhood trauma, which is often a cause of unhealthy attachment styles. 

If you’ve experienced childhood trauma and feel codependent on your partner, this book might help you understand how those experiences shape your behavior today. It outlines how to process the trauma and navigate the path to gaining your true self. 

4. Codependent, Now What?: It’s Not You, It’s Your Programming by Lisa A. Romano

In Codependent, Now What, Lisa Romano, documenting her journey, draws on her experiences in a codependent relationship. She discusses her reliance on her husband and her constant need to seek the approval of others. It’s a deeply personal account but one that’s rooted in knowledge. 

Rather than focusing on why you’re codependent, Romano focuses on how to overcome it. The author herself describes this book as a tool for recovery based on what she’s learned in her life. 

5. The Codependency Recovery Plan: A Five-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle by Krystal Mazzola

The Codependency Recovery Plan is a good option if you prefer step-by-step instructions for doing something. As the title suggests, it outlines a five-step plan to teach self-care and boundaries. The steps can help restore your self-esteem and confidence, which, in turn, can solve so many issues besides codependency. 

Each chapter comes with exercises that allow you to self-reflect and ensure that you’re applying what you’re learning. It’s one of the more recent publications, so it’s based on even more research on codependency done in the last two decades. 

6. Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

Women Who Love Too Much targets women in codependent relationships who are often under the impression that their partner and relationship can improve if they just keep loving them. The author Robin Norwood, a celebrated marriage counselor, provides a reality check for women who frequently find themselves in hurtful relationships. 

While Norwood provides beneficial advice for women, she also explains why women often fall prey to toxic and draining relationships with men. She discusses the addictive nature of codependent relations with not-so-nice guys. 

7. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Therapist, social worker, and author Nedra Glover Tawwab discusses the most important tool for overcoming codependence: boundaries. In her book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace, she teaches how to form personal boundaries, regardless of the kind or nature of the relationship. As codependent relations can exist between family members and friends, too, this guide can be helpful for individuals who find themselves exploited by others close to them. 

In addition to setting boundaries for yourself, the book also talks about respecting other people’s boundaries. She also gives personal accounts, passionately explaining how a lack of boundaries created havoc in her world. 

8. The Co-dependent Parent: Free Yourself by Freeing Your Child by Barbara Cottman Becnel

If you’re a parent and suspect that you have a codependent relationship with your child, this book is for you. The Co-dependent Parent doesn’t just help you recognize a conscious or subconscious dependency on your child, it also gets to the root cause of it. The author Barbara Becnel talks about how getting raised in a codependent environment increases the chances of parents mimicking the same behavior with their children. 

It’s a great resource for parents who have the tendency to control their children and pressure them into achieving their ideals of success. There are helpful lessons on how to alter your behavior and give your child the love and support they deserve. 

9. Inner Bonding: Becoming a Loving Adult to Your Inner Child by Margaret Paul

Codependency is typically the result of insecure attachment styles formed during childhood due to codependent parents. Children of codependent parents are likely to be codependent in their adult relationships. In this book, Inner Bonding, author Margaret Paul takes the reader on a path of healing their inner child.  The book focuses on healing wounds of the past and, through that, mending today’s relationships. This book is a must-read if you believe you’re codependent because of how you were raised. 

10. Codependents Anonymous by CoDA

Developed by the organization Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), Codependents Anonymous follows a similar path as the 12-step program used for alcohol and substance addiction. It’s not just a guide for addressing and coping with codependency; it also contains accounts and stories of people who have been through what you may be going through. Although published in the 90s, the tools provided can even work in the age of relationships heavily influenced by digital media. 

Begin Your Journey to End Codependency

Understand that codependency is a learned behavior; anything learned can be unlearned. Recognizing and accepting that you’re codependent is the first step, arguably a big first step. You can now begin your journey of healing and overcoming codependency. 

Using a book with practical, tested tools can help you gain that independence you deserve and establish healthy boundaries for all your relationships. 

Speak with a therapist about your codependent tendencies and unhealthy relationship if necessary. A therapist can also provide the tools and conduct exercises that will help you recognize your worth and where to draw the line. 


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