20 Songs About Codependency

Codependency gets thrown around a lot when it comes to relationships, often to the dismay of clinical psychologists and relationship therapists. Because while the majority of us view codependency as a negative term that suggests a person is overbearing and needy, some experts believe the term is overused and really isn’t all that bad.

Still, codependency is a real thing that can occur in a relationship, and often happens when one partner requires more — more attention, more validation, more support — than the other partner. That can be a lot or too much for one partner, but for another partner, that could be fine.

While it may not be a pervasive theme in mainstream music, some artists have explored codependency in their lyrics and melodies.

In this playlist, we’ve complied a list of 20 songs that touch upon or can be interpreted through the lens of codependency. 

20 Songs About Codependency

1. “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, released in 1972, is a soulful anthem that explores codependency and communal support. Inspired by Withers’ upbringing in Slab Fork, West Virginia, the song reflects on the strength gained from relying on others during tough times.

With lyrics such as “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend,” the song beautifully captures the essence of interdependence and the willingness to share burdens. It became a chart-topping hit, resonating with diverse audiences due to its powerful message.

2. “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown

“No Air” by Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown delves into the challenges of codependency, expressing the emotional turmoil felt when separated from a loved one.

Released on February 11, 2008, as the second single from Jordin Sparks’ debut album, the song earned praise for its emotive vocals and relatable theme.

The lyrics, crafted by James Fauntleroy II, Harvey Mason Jr., Steve Russell, Erik Griggs, and Damon Thomas, vividly convey the desperation and suffocation experienced when a significant other is absent. Lines such as “Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air” encapsulate the essence of codependency.

3. “Me and My Husband” by Mitski

Mitski’s “Me and My Husband,” featured on her 2018 album “Be the Cowboy,” delves into the theme of codependency in a failing marriage. With an upbeat melody, the song powerfully captures the complexities of a relationship on the brink of collapse.

Mitski’s lyrics create a portrait of a devoted yet troubled housewife who remains steadfastly by her husband’s side despite hints of possible abuse.

The recurring refrain, “Me and my husband, we’re doing better,” becomes a mantra that emphasises the theme of holding onto a relationship in the face of challenges.

4. “Codependent Song” by Kidneythieves

“Codependent Song” by Kidneythieves, the captivating industrial rock duo from Los Angeles, delves into the complex dynamics of codependency. Formed in 1997 by vocalist Free Dominguez and guitarist Bruce Somers, Kidneythieves have a unique sound that combines electronic elements with Dominguez’s haunting vocals.

The lyrics of the song explore the singer’s intense emotional connection, expressing a longing for love as both a healing force and a potential source of destruction. Lines like “Feels like I love you to pieces, This love I know that I need it” highlight the paradoxical nature of the relationship.

5. “In The Night” by The Weeknd

“In the Night” by the Weeknd, featured in his 2015 album “Beauty Behind the Madness,” delves into the theme of codependency. The song narrates the challenges faced by a young woman navigating a tough life. Co-written by the Weeknd, Belly, Savan Kotecha, Peter Svensson, and produced by Max Martin and Ali Payami, the song vividly depicts the woman’s struggles.

The lyrics, such as “All alone, she was livin’ / In a world without an end or beginnin’,” paint a picture of her isolation and yearning for connection. The chorus, “In the night, she hears him calling / In the night, she’s dancin’ to relieve the pain,” exposes her coping mechanism. The impactful line, “Dollar bills and tears keep fallin’ down her face,” underscores the emotional toll.

The Weeknd’s expressive vocals and poignant lyrics collectively make “In the Night” a compelling exploration of vulnerability and resilience in the face of codependency.

6. “Where Are Ü Now” by Justin Bieber

“Where Are Ü Now” by Skrillex and Diplo, featuring Justin Bieber, delves into the intricacies of codependency in relationships through its emotive lyrics and captivating EDM sound. Released in 2015, the song seamlessly blends Bieber’s soulful vocals with Skrillex and Diplo’s electronic beats.

In the chorus, Bieber’s heartfelt inquiry, “Where are you now that I need ya?” reflects the vulnerability and yearning associated with codependent emotions. The lines “I gave you the key when the door wasn’t open / Just admit it” and “I showed you the game everybody else was playin’, that’s for sure” reveal themes of sacrifice and unreciprocated efforts, adding depth to the narrative.

7. “The Co-Dependent” by Sia

“The Co-Dependent” by Sia, featured in her fifth studio album “We Are Born,” delves into the complexities of codependency in relationships.

The lyrics honestly depict a devoted partner facing difficulties but remaining steadfast. Sia’s moving portrayal captures a relationship defined by unwavering support, as seen in lines like “So many years I’ve carried you in my arms, yet I stay.” The chorus emphasizes the commitment to stand by and be present during each other’s struggles.

8. “Codependent” by Sophie Holohan

Sophie Holohan’s touching song, “Codependent,” delves into the complex interplay of identity and love. The lyrics ponder the idea of self-worth tied to someone else, questioning if we’re truly ‘something’ when alone. Holohan explores the contradiction of feeling most alive with someone, yet risking losing oneself.

The haunting line “If you go, will I be sentenced to silence for a million years?” captures the fear of abandonment and the silence of solitude. The song openly addresses the challenge of maintaining individual identity within the confines of a shared world.

9. “Like Smoke” by Amy Winehouse

“Like Smoke” by Amy Winehouse, featuring Nas, explores the complexities of relationships and codependency. Winehouse’s unique vocals express a desire for companionship without the weight of commitment, confessing, “I never wanted you to be my man, I just needed company.”

The metaphorical ‘smoke’ symbolizes the fleeting nature of the connection, emphasizing the ephemeral and elusive quality of the emotional ties depicted. Nas’s rap verse adds a layer of social commentary, addressing economic challenges and personal struggles.

10. “Issues” by Julia Michaels

“Issues” by Julia Michaels, released in 2017 as the lead single from her EP “Nervous System,” explores codependency and emotional vulnerability. Co-written with Justin Tranter and produced by Benny Blanco and Stargate, the song candidly addresses Michaels’ struggles with anxiety and the complexities of love.

With lyrics like “I get angry, baby, believe me, I could love you just like that, and I could leave you just as fast,” Michaels exposes the highs and lows of a turbulent relationship. The chorus embraces imperfections, declaring, ” ‘Cause I got issues, but you got ’em too.”

Through its emotive melody and honest lyrics, “Issues” becomes a powerful exploration of human connection and vulnerability.

11. “Codependency” by Lil Bo Weep

“Codependency” by Lil Bo Weep, the artistic alias of the late Winona Lisa Green (2000-2022), is an evocative exploration of emotional turbulence and addiction. Known for her candid portrayal of mental health struggles, Lil Bo Weep’s lyrics delve into the despair of codependency.

Expressing a haunting narrative, she sings, “Can not sleep, can not think, demons eating away at me,” vividly capturing the torment within. The recurring theme of Xanax reflects the coping mechanisms for pain, while the lines, “And it hurts so bad when you take from me, and it hurts so bad when you can’t see,” lay bare the emotional toll of toxic relationships.

11. “Codependency” by Orla Gartland

“Codependency” by Orla Gartland delves into the complexities of a challenging relationship. Born on February 3, 1995, Gartland gained recognition for her YouTube covers before crafting original pieces.

The song captures the emotional struggles of mutual reliance. The singer grapples with her partner’s sadness and internal conflicts, expressed through poignant lyrics like “I’m the problem with you, And I don’t know what to do.” These words vividly portray the internal conflict and self-awareness within a codependent dynamic.

Themes of yearning for validation, worth, and the speaker’s internal battles are encapsulated in lines like “Tell me I’m worth it, tell me I’m perfect.

12. “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry

Katy Perry’s song “Unconditionally” delves into the theme of codependency and unfolds a story of unconditional love in the midst of vulnerability. It was released as the second single from her 2013 album “Prism,” drawing inspiration from Perry’s humanitarian trip to Madagascar with UNICEF.

The lyrics convey the idea of fully accepting someone, flaws and all, as expressed in the lines: “Come just as you are to me, Don’t need apologies. Know that you are worthy, I’ll take your bad days with your good.”

The song explores the challenges of dealing with insecurities and emphasizes the commitment to endure both the difficult moments and the joyful ones in a relationship, capturing the essence of loving “unconditionally.”

13. “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis

Donna Lewis’s 1996 pop hit, “I Love You Always Forever,” delves into the subtle nuances of codependency through its evocative lyrics.

Drawing inspiration from H. E. Bates’ “Love for Lydia,” the song articulates an enduring longing for closeness, as seen in lines such as “Near and far, closer together, everywhere I will be with you.” The enchanting melody and Lewis’s delivery amplify the emotional impact, portraying a desire for an everlasting connection.

The repetition in the bridge, “Say you’ll love me forever, never stop, never, whatever near and far, and always and everywhere,” serves to underscore the theme of dependency.

14. “How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes

“How Do I Live,” a soul-stirring ballad by Diane Warren, explores the theme of profound codependency and the fear of losing a loved one.

First performed by LeAnn Rimes for her 1997 album, “You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs,” and later gaining prominence with Trisha Yearwood’s rendition in the film “Con Air,” the song’s heartfelt lyrics paint a poignant picture of emotional vulnerability.

Lines such as “How do I live without you? If you ever go, how do I ever, ever survive?” and “Baby, don’t you know that you’re everything good in my life” convey the deep emotional connection and reliance on a significant other.

15. “Not in That Way” by Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s “Not In That Way” from the album “In the Lonely Hour” is a heartfelt exploration of codependency and unrequited love.

The song reflects the singer’s internal struggle to express feelings to someone who can’t reciprocate romantically. Sam Smith’s soulful vocals convey the emotional complexity of needing someone who doesn’t want the same kind of love.

Lines like “I hate to say I need you, I’m so reliant, I’m so dependent, I’m such a fool” poignantly capture the singer’s admission of dependence and vulnerability. The refrain, “I love you, but not in that way,” becomes a heartbreaking mantra, underscoring the painful reality of a one-sided emotional connection.

16. “Doth I Protest Too Much” by Alanis Morissette

“Doth I Protest Too Much” by Alanis Morissette explores codependency through powerful lyrics. Morissette, known for her emotional voice, dives into the complexities of relationships.

She denies jealousy and insecurity, singing, “I’m not jealous, I don’t get moved by much; I’m not enraged, not insecure as such.” The refrain “And doth I protest too much?” suggests self-awareness of emotional masking. She also rejects emotional dependence, stating, “I’m not needy, I don’t get clingy much; I am not scared, I am not afraid as such.”

These lyrics tell a story of strength and independence, offering a nuanced perspective on the complex dynamics of emotional reliance in relationships.

17. “Clarity” by Zedd

“Clarity,” the 2012 hit by Zedd featuring Foxes, unravels the theme of codependency in relationships. Written by Zedd, Matthew Koma, Porter Robinson, and Skylar Grey, the lyrics vividly portray the struggle of a love marked by internal conflict.

Lines like “‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need, Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why” reveal the singer’s inner turmoil.

The chorus poses poignant questions: “If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?” These lyrics encapsulate the paradoxical nature of a relationship that, despite its challenges, serves as both a source of pain and a remedy for the singer’s emotional turbulence.

18. “Off to the Races” by Lana Del Rey

“Off to the Races” by Lana Del Rey explores the complexities of a turbulent relationship, delving into themes of codependency. Released on her album “Born to Die” (2012), the song vividly portrays an intense connection with an older man, combining danger and devotion. Del Rey’s unique vocal style, accompanied by hip-hop beats, underscores the tumultuous nature of the narrative.

Lyrics such as “Light of my life, fire of my loins, be a good baby, do what I want” reveal a power dynamic within the relationship, while “I’m your little scarlet, starlet, singing in the garden, kiss me on my open mouth” conveys a sense of submission. The repetition of “I need you to come here and save me” echoes the central theme of reliance and the challenges inherent in such entangled love.

19. “Creep” by Radiohead

“Creep” by Radiohead, their debut single from 1992, is a poignant exploration of codependency and self-doubt. Thom Yorke’s lyrics express a deep yearning for acceptance, with lines like “I wish I was special” revealing a desire for recognition.

The narrator’s repeated self-identification as a “creep” and a “weirdo” reflects feelings of inadequacy and alienation. The haunting refrain, “What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here,” resonates with the emotional turbulence of grappling with one’s sense of self. The lyrics capture the complexity of relationships and the impact of low self-esteem on personal connections.

20. “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5

“She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5, released in 2004 as the third single from their debut album “Songs About Jane,” explores the intricacies of codependency in relationships.

Penned by Adam Levine and James Valentine, the song tells the story of unrequited love, with poignant lyrics like “Look for the girl with the broken smile, Ask her if she wants to stay a while.” These lines emphasize the singer’s commitment to supporting someone despite their struggles. The chorus reinforces the theme, affirming, “And she will be loved.”

The song beautifully encapsulates the emotional rollercoaster of love, acknowledging imperfections with lines such as “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, It’s compromise that moves us along.”

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