Authentic Relationships




It is not enough for us to hear “stop practicing codependent behavior” or “stop acting co-dependently”. It seems so vague. We want to know exactly what to do. How do we care without crossing the line into care taking? How can we be responsible without becoming controlling? The First Step offers guidance about which behaviors to stop. We admit that we have been attempting by action or thought to have power over others. As long as we are focused on what is wrong with someone else, we cannot work on ourselves.


We have to stop attempting to exert power over other people or wishing another person would change so we could be happy. We also need to be aware of passive attempts to control, such as being a martyr, inducing guilt, manipulating others, or allowing others to mistreat us.

ACA’s Welcome also reveals behaviors we need to stop. “We attempted to use others – our mates, friends and even our children as our sole source of identity, value and well-being and as a way of trying to restore within us the emotional losses from our childhoods.” We have repeatedly sought out relationships to boost our egos, to confirm our identities, and to make us feel good about ourselves.

In order to be authentic we cannot use other people to define who we are and fulfill us. By recognizing our true value, we can stop neglecting and mistreating ourselves. To be true to ourselves, we look inside to find our answers. We turn to our Higher Power. By trusting that we will be taken care of, we begin to heal.

At this point, we begin to know a new level of serenity. We discover within ourselves a sense of security and self-worth not bound by anyone else’s opinion of us. As we continue to share at meetings, talk with others in the program and gain insights from our Fourth Step inventory, we become more authentic.


It means pushing through the fear and saying what’s on my mind, being direct instead of being manipulative.

“I come to realize that I really can’t please everyone, and I cannot expect everyone to like me. As long as my behaviors are consistent with my thoughts and feelings, I am content to be who I am.”

‘To me authenticity is serenity and happiness for no reason. I feel content to just be. No one else can affect this feeling. I feel no need to react.”

“Being authentic means being my self as fully and clearly as possible, knowing and expressing my feelings, handling issues with serenity and grace.”

Authenticity isn’t about being perfect or not having feelings. It’s about balance and sanity in my relationships and my life. It’s about using the Steps and Traditions as the guiding principles in all my affairs.”


As we continue on our paths of recovery from codependence, we learn to differentiate between unhealthy dysfunctional relationships and authentic relationships. We look at past behaviors and patterns and compare them with how we engage in present relationships. The following chart shows aspects of codependent relationships and authentic relationships.

Our goal to ultimately sustain a healthy relationship includes building a friendship first, keeping a promising relationship moving forward, retaining our identity, boundaries and values and learning to share with another person.


Then - I used whatever means necessary including lying, manipulating and evading to get what I wanted from another person.
Now - I am realistic about our relationship. I realize that a healthy relationship involves give and take, negotiation and compromise.

Then - I was addicted to the chaos and drama in our relationship. It reminded me of growing up in my family of origin.
Now - We share love and happiness. We value and appreciate the peaceful times in our lives.

Then - I quickly became enmeshed in your life. The more indispensable I was to you, the more secure I felt. I believed you would never leave me.
Now - I remain my own person. By practicing healthy boundaries and expressing my needs directly, I avoid being engulfed by you.

Then - I believed that together, you and I made a whole. When you were not around, I felt as if something was missing.
Now - We come together as two separate people who encourage each other’s personal growth and process.

Then - I took my identity from you. I was preoccupied with all the details of your life: your friends, your work, how you spent your time away from me.
Now - I remain self-assured with my own identity. I value my accomplishments, make my own decisions, and approve of my behaviors.


I’ve decided to become the person I want to be – physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. I consciously focus on specific growth areas, letting go of those negative traits and character defects that hold me back. Working the Fourth and Fifth Steps helps me identify who I am and who I want to be. The Tenth Step helps keep me on track. I am no longer defined or controlled by anyone else. I claim my right to be who I really am.



What will it take for me to let myself be me?  What is in the way?

How do the Steps help me to know I am enough just as I am?

Where did I learn it was safer to pretend to be something other than myself?

How does trust in a Higher Power support me?

In what ways am I not being real in my current relationships?

Does being authentic mean I need to share all my opinions with everyone? What do I hold back? How much do I need to share?

What part does presence play in being authentic?

How can I have a real relationship if the other person is inauthentic?


  • I am responsible for my own feelings and no one else’s.
  • I open myself today to receive love – and when I do, I can love others.
  • I am learning to share, feel and trust.
  • I am comfortable with myself and others.
  • My Higher Power accompanies me on life’s journey.