Codependency Recovery: How to Stop Loving the People Who Hurt You

Posted by in dating a dangerous man, dating a narcissist, red flags in relationships, self-esteem in dating | 2 comments

codependencyPsychotherapist and author Ross A. Rosenberg, is the owner and works in Clinical Care Consultants, a counseling center in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He also owns and trains with Advanced Clinical Trainers (ACT), which provides a platform for talented and inspiring trainers, leaders and experts. Ross has been a psychotherapist since 1988. He is considered an expert in codependency recovery, sex and love addiction, and Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders. Ross is a licensed therapist who is also a certified addiction counselor (CADC) and certified sex addictions therapist (CSAT). He joined me on Last First Date radio for a highly informative show about how to avoid dating and falling in love with the people who hurt us. Following are loosely transcribed highlights of the show.

Sandy: Ross, you call yourself a recovering codependent. How did you heal from your codependency?

Ross: I had a good therapist who said, “You’re falling in love with the same person with a different face. We have to improve your picker.” That was my wakeup call to do the inner work to heal.

Sandy: It takes courage to share your own personal story of codependency recovery. I feel it also makes you more credible. Was it hard for you to share it?

Ross: I had shame about my second divorce and kept it to myself. It wasn’t until I started to write my second book that I shared my story.

Sandy: Why do we fall in love with people who hurt us?

Ross: As children we develop a relationship template. The way we connected to our parents forms the basis for our relationships. From a parent who was a narcissist, you learned that love came to you only when you did something to please someone else. Codependency is caused in childhood from an attachment trauma. You have the message that you’re not lovable for who you are. You’re not worthy of love unless you do something for someone.

We’ll continue to bring that idea of love into our relationships until that gets solved through therapy.

Sandy: Can you please define codependency?

Ross: Redefining codependency: a person who habitually and reflexively gives more love, respect and care to others while not receiving the same in return. First they’re comfortable in the relationship when they feel the rush of love, and when the balance becomes very uneven, they feel stuck and trapped.

They often fall for pathological narcissists. Those are people who, in relationships, need all the love respect and care from their partner but don’t give it in return.

Codependents can’t get themselves unstuck once they’re in a codependent relationship.

It’s like a dance: Follower and leader who are good at their respective rolls, it works beautifully. A narcissist and codependent fit beautifully together.

Sandy: What about relationships with a narcissist and a codependent where the narcissist starts out charming and doting, but flips after he has the woman in his control? How can the codependent see the red flags if he’s so loving at first?

Ross: Codependents miss red flags. They turn them into signs of love. The chemistry of love makes them blind to those signs.

Pathological narcissists have personality disorders. They don’t have insight into how they hurt someone, so they won’t make amends or change. If you’re a codependent, go to therapy because you want to learn to regain your power. What about you is so hurt/compromised psychologically? Lack of self-esteem and fear of being alone are the problem. Loneliness is a pathological condition that fuels codependency. It can make you fall in love with a narcissist.

Sandy: What is the first step to take if someone realizes that they are in one of the dysfunctional relationships that are described in your book?

Ross: Look for signs in yourself first. Do you feel like someone is dismissing you? Needs more attention than you do? Your feelings are not validated? You’re being manipulated.

Signs of a narcissist: Look for someone who talks more than they listen. Takes charge when you don’t want them to. Gets mad when you disagree. Tells you that you need to change and doesn’t accept personal responsibility.

Warning: if you move forward in recovery, everyone will be upset with you at first. They are used to you taking care of them before you take care of yourself. You’re setting boundaries for the first time.

To learn more about how to set boundaries and begin your own process of recovery, listen to and/or download the show now.



  1. It’s as though we are in a trance! This type of exchange helps a lot in seeing how we really feel about ourselves. Funny, I get upset when I no longer “allow” myself to settle and be a doormat. Probably because I was so used to giving 200%.

  2. Jen, there’s a big difference between healthy giving and the giving that leads to being a doormat. The type of giving you’re describing from your past was unhealthy, giving of your soul without receiving in return. Or worse, receiving abuse in return. I’m glad you’re working on yourself and are learning to receive and not give so freely. You are precious. A man needs to earn your treasure.

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