Serenity Counseling & Consulting Services

Stephanie C. Johnson MA, LPC

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: One thing that's difficult for me in relationships is "hanging on to myself." It seems that once I get close to someone -- roommate, friend, or lover -- I give in and accommodate so much that there's nothing left of me.

A: It's hard to experience fulfillment in a relationship which is not equal and reciprocal. The best way to avoid "giving yourself up" in a relationship is to develop some assertiveness skills. Learn how to express your feelings, beliefs, opinions, and needs openly and honestly. Here are some guidelines:

  • When stating your feelings, use "I-statements." Avoid accusatory or blaming "you-statements." They usually only result in defensiveness and counterattacks.
  • You have a right to have feelings and to make requests. State them directly and firmly and without apology.
  • Acknowledge the other person's point of view, but repeat your request as many times as necessary.
  • Learn to say "no" to unreasonable requests. Offer a reason -- not an excuse -- if you choose, but your feelings are reason enough. Trust them.

Q: I hear a lot about "co-dependency" in relationships. What exactly is that?

A: Co-dependency originally referred to the spouses or partners of alcoholics and the ways they attempt to control the effects of the other person's dependency on alcohol or drugs. More recently, the term has been used to refer to any relationship in which one person feels incomplete without the other and thus tries to control him/her. Some characteristics of co-dependency are:

A healthy relationship is one that allows for the individuality and growth of both persons, is open to change, and allows both individuals to express their feelings and needs.