Young adults may have a difficult time transitioning from their youth into their adult lives. Everyone should learn how to be more independent by decreasing codependency in relationships, including romantic and family relationships.

Independent vs. codependent

You may be wondering what the difference is between independency and codependency in relationships.

Dependency is being able to rely on yourself for your basic needs like buying your own groceries and toiletries, cleaning and doing your own dishes and laundry, and paying your own rent.

It’s not a bad thing to want other people around you, and it’s normal for humans to want other people in their lives to fulfill their desire for companionship. It’s nice to have someone to talk to and engage in activities with people who have the same interests. This is where friendships and romantic relationships come into play. It is also normal for us to have close relationships with our families.

These relationships become unhealthy when we rely on someone else to fulfill all of our needs. Whether it be still living with your parents well into adulthood where your mother is still folding your laundry and buying you groceries or if you have moved out and live with a significant other and these responsibilities have transferred to them.

Codependency in relationships can become unhealthy and toxic for all parties involved if it is not addressed.

How to become more independent

Set boundaries

One aspect of codependency in relationships is a lack of boundaries. Setting boundaries allows you to speak up for yourself about how others should treat you. It takes consistency to build and maintain boundaries in your relationships, but as you identify the limits, you can become more independent yourself and help others around you with their independence as well.

Practice communication skills

To establish healthy boundaries in your relationships, you need to know how to communicate with those around you. Whether you have a significant other or you need to communicate your needs in a friendship or with family members, all types of relationships require the need for boundaries.

Having effective communication skills will help with your independence as if offers you the ability to speak for yourself which you will need in adulthood to make your own doctors’ appointments and is a crucial quality to have to obtain a job.

Practicing assertive communication will show that you are aware of your needs, can communicate those needs clearly, and can set and enforce clear boundaries.

Engage in activities you love

It is common for someone struggling with dependency to lack a sense of self. If you are aware that you need to be more independent, find hobbies to engage in on your own. Finding joyful activities will help you know yourself better.

Examples of hobbies you can do by yourself are:

Taking a relaxing bath
Writing in a journal
Painting or drawing
Walking in nature

If you are struggling with codependency in relationships, consider finding activities to participate in by yourself to 1) bring you more joy and 2) bring a sense of fulfillment.

Spend time alone

A vital aspect of independency is having the ability to be alone. This doesn’t mean to not try and make friends, but you should prioritize alone time and not always be in the presence of friends, family and coworkers. Spending time with your own thoughts or by doing things you love can bring you peace and confidence. It allows you to connect with yourself and strengthen your ability to regulate your emotions.

A 2020 study found that intentional solitude can positively impact emerging adults’ well-being and mental health. The author of the study suggests to spend time away from peers and other people to allow yourself to regroup away from life’s stressors. She also says that the absence of societal pressure provides for a great reflection of your thoughts, feeling and values.

Learn what you can control

If you have codependency tendencies, it can be difficult to watch someone you love make decisions that you don’t agree with. Remember that you can’t control other people’s behaviors, thoughts or feelings, just your own.

Let go of the feeling that you need to be responsible for others.

On the flipside, you may be struggling with dependency yourself and want to rely on other people to make all of your decisions for you. It’s not healthy for other people to make decisions for you because in the end, it’s going to affect you the most. You can practice this by making simple decisions on your own and getting advice on bigger decisions if you need, but keep in mind that it is up to you at the end of the day.

Be assertive

Being independent means taking charge of your life and making your own decisions. If you want something, don’t be afraid to go after it instead of waiting for someone else to help you. Adulthood is full of situations where you have to make decisions – some more difficult than others, so it’s important that you know how to make decisions for yourself.

Benefits of dependency

Encourages growth

Codependency in relationships encourage individuals to grow emotionally, socially, spiritually, and professionally. When someone gets comfortable relying on someone else for basic needs, they have a harder time becoming independent as they grow up.

Boosts confidence

Independence gives people a sense of confidence to handle what life throws their way. This is because they feel more prepared to act without waiting for permission from someone. Being more independent can lead to trying new things which can lead to more confidence and knowledge that you can do things on your own.


With independence comes more freedom. When you become an adult, move out on your own and maybe even attend college, you will have more responsibilities, but you are also free to make your own choices. You can go places you want to, buy what you want, eat what you want, and much more without having to ask anyone for permission.

Having financial independence also brings on more freedom regarding money. When you are not relying on your parents to buy everything for you, you have total control over what you spend your money on because you are earning it yourself.

Promotes happiness/reduces stress

When you are emotionally independent, you can make your personal decisions and go experience challenges without someone by your side 24/7. It is important to have people who support you and that you can lean on, but it’s not healthy to be completely reliant on someone when you are going through difficult times. Being emotionally independent means, you can decrease your suffering and disappointment because you aren’t relying on someone else to meet your emotional needs.

Improves decision-making skills

You will be much more comfortable making decisions if you are confident in your independence because you have proven to yourself that you can make smart decisions for yourself. When you aren’t dependent on someone emotionally and financially, you are in a better position to make decisions because it is only affecting you and not someone else as well.