Detaching (With Love) In Codependency

“Detaching with love” is a popular phrase in codependency recovery and most spiritual growth. The act of detachment is frequently misunderstood. Detaching is not the same as abandoning or walking away. For codependents, taking space of any kind can feel like moving across the world. People with an attached personality to others are uncomfortable with the idea of space. Detaching with love is a way to create normal, healthy amounts of space in a relationship, whether that relationship is dysfunctional or not. Detachment is largely emotional and happens over a long period of time through change of thought, action, belief, and behavior. At times, detachment will need to be immediate and physical. Physically detaching yourself from a harmful and toxic situation is okay and often necessary.

Codependency recovery empowers you to take the steps you need in order to protect yourself, maintain your sanity, and encourage your independence. Detachment in codependency recovery is mostly detaching from codependent behaviors. Letting go of the need to control and controlling behaviors, worrying within reason, taking responsibility for the self and realizing other people can be responsible for themselves- detachment helps create two distinct people in a relationship of any kind, instead of the one blurred enmeshment of codependency. “Love” is important in “detaching with love” because detachment isn’t an act of anger, hatred, or resentment. Changing actions and behaviors to reflect healthier boundaries is an act of love for the self and for others

Emotional Detachment

  • Use the “serenity prayer” as a mindfulness tool for codependency: the serenity to accept what you cannot change, the courage to change what you can, the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Recognize that everyone has the ability to make their own decisions and change their decision making process
  • Take accountability for your choices and responsibilities in life
  • Ask if someone wants advice before giving it
  • Let other people’s problems be other people’s problems
  • Manage your expectations by evaluating them and lowering them when they are too high.
  • Make room for surprises.

Physical Detachment

  • Walk away from a toxic argument which isn’t moving in a healthy direction. Use a statement like, “I love you and because I respect you I’m going to walk away right now to calm down and collect my thoughts.”
  • Don’t spend time, or as much time, with toxic family members who might trigger codependency. Set limits on the amount of time you do spend with them and participate in activities which won’t lead to a codependent environment.
  • When you are suspicious a situation might take away your agency or ability to be responsible for yourself, make sure you have your own accommodations. Drive separately, keep extra money to catch a cab, or take initiative.


LEAD Recovery Center is a transitional care program helping clients achieve full autonomy in recovery through a multiphase system. Our dual diagnosis program focuses on substance use and mental health disorders in addition to secondary issues like codependency. Call us today for more information on how we are bringing health and balance back to clients lives: 800-380-0012.