What Codependents Don’t Understand About Defending their Partners

Jason Henry
5 min readSep 6, 2022
Photo by Malachi Cowie on Unsplash

It’s a rough deal being codependent. You do almost all of the giving in the relationship and you take a lot of crap from someone who demands you adopt their way of seeing things, which means you have to abandon your own perspectives.

Ultimately, you may even abandon yourself as you live to serve another person.

The boundaries are weak, intimacy is low and despite a strong lack of trust, the codependent seems bound to this other person (usually a narcissist) because this other person gives them a purpose and an identity.

One of the things a codependent will probably do at some point is defend their partner’s crummy behavior towards them or even go as far as to enable their destructive tendencies.

They consider this to be loving, but if they were to really look at what they’re doing, they are not trying to instill healthier perspectives or actions. That would actually be a loving thing to do. Instead, they let their partner waste away and remain tethered to them.

Here’s the thing. Defending your partner is not only a good thing, but it is critical for any relationship to work. The problem is that codependents believe that they are defending their partner when in reality they are making excuses.

Let’s look at an example of this. If the codependent’s partner cheats on them, they will say things like, “Boys will be boys,” or “I don’t like it but I need to be strong for the both of us.” These are excuses.

This is an opportunity to lay burdens of responsibility and accountability at the feet of the cheater. Instead, the cheater faces no consequences and learns that they can pretty much do whatever and their codependent partner will still be there.

But if one’s partner cheats on them, how does one defend something like that? Clearly it’s wrong based on the understanding that the couple were exclusive. How can one defend this?

The key is to understand that you are not defending the action. You are defending the person. An interdependent partner could respond in such a context by saying, “My partner was raised to believe that this is appropriate behavior, but I don’t want to be cheated on. I will leave if this continues.”

Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”