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HOD SELECT: An Introduction to Codependency in Relationships


Mike Foster

We are continuing our Heart of Dating Select series with Kait's dear friend Mike Foster! He is a best-selling author, speaker, and advocate for not-so-perfect people. He has an INCREDIBLE podcast, Fun Therapy and he has such a way of SEEING people, connecting with them, and making them feel understood and comfortable.

Mike also has a book that he published with his wife Jennifer called FIVE dates. It’s a a His and Her workbook to help couples connect. Kait has personally used it and can honestly tell you it has been SO impactful in her dating life to foster gratitude, connection, and deeper understanding.

Today, we're looking back on the conversation that Kait and Mike go into on  the topic of CODEPENDENCY.  So if you aren’t sure what that TRULY means or if you want to know more about what the symptoms are and how to recognize and heal from it… you’re going to LOVE this conversation!

What does codependency mean?

  • A codependent relationship is one where I need YOU to need me. I NEED you to love me and like me. Those themes and those ideas cause us to compromise ourselves.
  • Relationships, friendships, family, etc…our identities get meshed with someone else’s identity and suddenly THEIR success and what they are doing is a direct reflection of our value.
  • It becomes an an EXTERNAL thing that is representing our value.
  • Mike says that some codependent relationships are TOXIC but then some codependent relationships are more like a “low grade fever”
  • Codependency impact our BOUNDARIES.

What are some of the SYMPTOMS and signs of codependency?

  • Symptoms: Over-giving, resentment & cynicism, controlling, fixing, compromising boundaries, unwilling to say the truth… all of these are signs of codependency.
  • When we are trying to control or FIX someone, that is codependency.
  • Control is a manifestation of FEAR. “I am afraid this person might fail so I start controlling it. I am afraid this relationship might fail, so I start controlling it.”
  • Ask the question “Do I care about the problem, more than the individual cares about the problem?”
  • We need to figure out.. .WHAT IS OUR INTENTION with helping someone? Helping people is not bad, but if our intention is to help someone to GET something from it, that is a codependent intention.
  • Compromising our boundaries is another sign. Anytime we sacrifice yourself on behalf of others. When we are OVER giving and in OVER responsibility, we have to check ourselves.
  • Ask yourself: “Are you in FULL access to that person?”
  • Compromising responsibility builds up cynicism. If the phrase “Why doesn’t this person appreciate them more?” That is a classic sign and you are OVER giving in the relationship.
  • Unwillingness to SAY the truth is another sign. You might try to HOLD it back to protect them or the relationship… this is a codependent thing.
  • Healthy relationships are ones where you SHARE from your heart. Codependent relationships are thinking you can’t say what’s on your heart because it might hurt their feelings and might destabilize the relationship.
  • What you are saying is “this other person’s needs are more important than YOUR needs.”

Somehow we need to separate ourselves from others. How do we practice detachment and radical ownership?

  • It is in essence saying “I am NOT responsible for someone else’s outcome”
  • Detach from someone success or failure or if they do something perfect or not, that is actually HEALTH.
  • We cannot do other people’s work for them.
  • Typically if we are doing something like “people pleasing” we lose our OWN voice. This can create such a pattern of exhaustion.
  • Mike talks about the idea of radical ownership. Knowing that you can only control YOU, not someone else.
  • Mike says “YOU ARE RIDICULOUSLY in charge of your own life”
  • It is a really easy thing to BLAME, but this will just temporary fix something. It is not a true solve.
  • Forgiveness is a huge element of radical ownership, “Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about YOU. I am releasing myself so I can move on.
  • We can often justify things we are doing that are codependent claiming that they are GOOD… but many times, it is actually codependent.
  • If you are in a dramatic relationship, that is YOUR choice.

What is the balance of practicing sacrificial love but also boundaries?

  • In order to have a healthy relationship, you need to have TWO healthy people”
  • Taking care of YOU will actually make you act more healthily in relationship.
  • Giving from an overflow, giving from health, giving from a place of real love and not codependent love
  • Again, you have to check your intentions!!!
  • Instead, we should learn to be MORE curious about WHY we are doing things, WHY we are upset about things, WHY we are afraid to say things, WHY are we not willing to talk about these particular needs?
  • Be curious without condemning ourselves or casting any shame. Instead just ask “I wonder why”, or “Isn’t that interesting?”
  • Usually the WHY ends up being “I want to be loved”… codependency usually comes about because we are just looking for LOVE!
  • Ask yourself “Where am I not getting love? Where am I deficient?

If we feel more “spiritually further along” than our partner, how do we release that instead of taking control and thus ending up in codependency?

  • Mike says something pretty awesome to start off this question, “Religious people are the most codependent people I have ever met.”
  • We love the idea of Jesus dying on the cross and the sacrifice… but we are NOT Jesus, and also we dismiss ALL the other things Jesus did to take care of himself.
  • Mike brings up John 5, the man who was an invalid and Jesus said “DO YOU WANT TO GET WELL?” He is basically saying, “do you want to take ownership of your life?”, Jesus did not take it upon himself to make the man WANT to walk.
  • To really combat that we need to get curious on WHY we are so attached to a particular concept like being “equally yoked”.
  • Being spiritually aligned is a big role of the relationship, but trying to fix or manipulate or get someone to do something is still CODEPENDENT.
  • Our reasons for desiring things have to be deeper than “the bible says”
  • If we want spiritual growth, we need to be focusing on our OWN spiritual growth.
  • Now, one thing to definitely pay attention to is if the person does not want to grow in ANY way, that is a red flag. 100%.
  • The problem is we have our TIMETABLES of WHAT growth should look like. Mike says “If you have a REALLY clear picture of what this should look like, whether spiritual or personal development, that is codependency and control.”

Quote by Melody Beattie, “Sometimes NO human being could be there for us the way we need them to be- to absorb us, care for us, and make us feel good complete and safe.”… How can we address with our own insecurity?

  • Mike says clearly, “For us to be happy it is an INSIDE job. It is not based on external things. It is not based on people loving us or needing us or us helping them. It is all internal.”
  • The first step is: WELCOME THEM. “I feel insecure.”
  • We can realize we are actually OKAY as we are. Talking about insecurity can actually allow love to come into our hearty. This love will naturally expand because we are tapping into WHO we really are. Mike says, “Pursue health. Pursue love. Pursue compassion for yourself.”
  • It is okay to have  RESET and cultivate love in our lives.
  • “Being a human being is hard and we should never forget that. Every day we are learning and growing and discovering something new and wonderful and also discovering something broken and messy.

What is you final nugget of dating advice?

  • Do dating and do relationship with a posture of OPEN hands, a sense of not being afraid and not worrying, but living a life of surrender with your hands open, I don’t have to grasp or clutch or control. Any time we are doing that in our relationships.

Other Resources

Podcast: Fun Therapy

Five Dates Workbook only available on the website:

Mike Foster Instagram

Mike Foster Twitter

Mike Foster Website

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