All of us may feel emotionally attached to our near and dear ones at some point in time. A child feels dependent on the parent to fulfill his or her emotional needs. Spouses share a dependent relation to enjoying a fulfilling life.
It gets unhealthy with excessive support. It starts to harm the connection between two individuals. Emotional dependency can make the relationship clingy and gluey. It loses its breathing space and freedom.
What is Emotional Dependency?
The dependent person may behave like a child and want constant support of love, care, trust and friendship. They feel lonely and blame themselves if they are unable to get support.
Emotional dependency is a state of mind where a person seeks constant love and security from their loved ones. It can be a family member, romantic partner, spouse or friend. The dependent adult feels that he or she cannot live without the other person.
They are emotionally needy and want constant support and care from others. These people rely on others to feel happy and acceptable. The person suffers from extreme fear and insecurity. They feel that their existence will be in danger if they will have to live without their loved ones.
Emotional dependency is harmful to a loving healthy relationship.
3 Types of Emotional dependency
You may become emotionally dependent on a family member, in a romantic relationship, with a spouse or on your social environment. Emotionally dependent people can never take responsibility for their feelings.
1. Dependency on a family member
Children who grow up under the guidance of their overprotective parents often become emotionally dependent. They see the world as a threat. Their immediate family member becomes a support base to land on in times of sorrow or pain. These kids are anxious and have a fear of losing parental love if they do not listen to them. They never feel satisfied with their own abilities once they grow up.
They suffer from a lack of happiness and personal satisfaction. Their inner happiness and self-worth are always dependent on others. They suffer from poor self-esteem and are incapable of solving life’s problems on their own. As adults, they are mentally weak and have poor self-confidence. They crave love and attention and are never self-dependent.
2. Dependency on a Spouse
This type of dependency is the most common one. It can do far-reaching damage and harm in couple relationships. In this type of dependency, one spouse always feels lonely, helpless and anxious, if left alone. Here, one spouse’s existence and well being are dependent on the other.
The dependent spouse feels that their life moves around their partner. Nobody else can give them the same level of comfort as their spouse. They have fears of losing their partner. They suffer from anxiety, depression, and anger if they do not see their partner around.
3. Dependency on the social environment
People suffer from low self-worth and they cannot consider themselves good enough in social setups. The dependent person seeks constant appreciation from others for his or her actions. They become dependent on others and fail to rely on themselves. They review themselves based on the opinions given by others. All the time, they feel rejected and abandoned in social circles.
Characteristics of an Emotionally Dependent Person
An emotionally dependent person has a few characteristics that you need to know.
- An emotionally dependent person always feels insecure.
- They have a constant need to be close and attached to others.
- The person has an immense fear of losing love.
- Always want appreciation from others to consider oneself as a worthy being.
- Feels guilty, if they do not show enough love to their loved ones.
- The person has a fear of losing the relationship.
- Feel unsafe all the time.
- Needs constant appreciation and approval from others.
- They have poor self-confidence.
- The person seeks love and affection from others.
- Always feels inadequate and empty from within.
- Poor self-worth.
- They often get anxious in social circles.
- Self-doubt is a common problem with most of them.
- Tends to seek protection from others to feel secure.
- They feel jealous and possessive.
- Do not like to see their partners spending time with somebody else.
Causes of Emotional Dependency
Now let us see the various causes of emotional dependency.
- Poor self-esteem since childhood – Children who had a history of disturbing childhood often grow up as dependent adults. They were never trusted by their parents. They grew up in homes where independence was never allowed. These children were criticized by their parents and never got the deserved appreciation.
They never felt loved at home. Parents kept them under control. Free mixing with peers was not allowed and they never became responsible and independent. They suffered from mental insufficiency and low self- esteem.
- Child abuse – Adults, who had suffered abuse as children can become emotionally dependent. Physical and sexual abuse is harmful and influences the proper development of the child. It can impact their adult life as well. Parents who abuse their children and punish them; for even slightest mistakes can grow up with an unhealthy mindset.
They develop poor self-confidence and inadequacy. They feel guilty and shameful all the time. These unhealthy feelings force them to become weak from within. They seek approval from others to consider themselves as good.
Negative Effects of Emotional Dependency
The negative effects of emotional dependency are as follows
- The dependent person constantly searches for a support base to lean on.
- They do not feel equal to others. There is a feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy.
- Anxiety and stress can bring in low self-esteem.
- They remain overwhelmed with thoughts of poor self-worth.
- Getting love and recognition from others is their primary motive.
- They never feel good from their heart.
- The person has a poor self-image and has unsuccessful personal relations.
Love vs. Emotional Dependency
Love and emotional dependency are not the same. In emotional dependency, a person seeks constant love and care, without giving personal space to the partner.
Love means sharing of happy and lovable moments. Love brings in joy and emotional fulfillment in an adult relationship. A loving couple relation is based on mutual trust, respect and commitment.
You love your partner without any condition. Care and feeling for the well-being of your partner is your primary motive. You are able to value the feelings of your partner. In emotional dependency, the person seeks constant love and support from their partners. Here, the feelings of the partner are never given any recognition. The lovable feelings fade and the relationship becomes disappointing day by day.
Loving is all about sharing and caring. Emotional dependency is one-sided and does not include the sharing of the feelings between the two persons. There is a tendency to control the partner and force them to show love and concern.
Love does not come out of any need and it does not have any feeling of inadequacy. It is a happy feeling, where you feel worthy of yourself. You can love the other person without any need. In emotional dependency, you start loving somebody with a need. The need forces you to make the relationship clingy and the other partner is forced to love you.
You feel inadequate and want to fill yourself with love and affection from your partner. You become desperate to get support. This is an unhealthy way of dealing with your own emotions. The emotionally dependent adult needs love rather than share it with their partner.
Difference Between Emotional Independence and Emotional Dependence
Emotional independence is a way by which a person can master his feelings and emotions. It is the same as emotional freedom. Here, the person takes responsibility for his feelings. They do not have an empty soul that needs love and affection. The mature adult is adequate and self-sufficient to love oneself and love others. In emotional independence, the person feels secure and worthy. There is no craving for others’ love.
The opposite of emotional freedom is emotional dependence. The loving adult behaves like a child and seeks continuous love and approval from others. This happens as the dependent person feels inadequate and empty from within. They want to be loved and cared.
They feel that living without their partner is impossible for them. Emotionally dependent relationships are unhealthy. They bring in a vicious circle of emotional responses of guilt, fear, sadness, personal abandonment, and self-blame.
10 Ways to Overcome Emotional Dependence?
It is normal to feel emotionally dependent on our loved ones; in times of worries. Feelings of inadequacy and loneliness make us weak and we become dependent on them. It can have a damaging effect on relationships. Let’s analyze the below-mentioned steps on how to stop being emotionally dependent on someone.
1. Find your own happiness
It is essential to seek inner happiness. The person should explore all his feelings and be happy and self-reliant. They should learn to trust and rely on themselves. It helps to develop self-worth. Break free all negative feelings to become healthy from within. You should know the ways of helping yourself.
This teaches you to cope with moments of stress on your own. Do not feel bad if you need somebody for help and do not find them around. Stay calm and try to solve your personal problems without others’ help. This will make you feel confident.
2. Give more time to yourself
Give time to yourself and note down your emotional needs. It is a good idea to help oneself. Learn to satisfy your own needs. Work on those feelings which make you feel bad. Always try to behave like a responsible adult. Find out different sources to feel happy. It can be giving more time yourself by reading a novel, listening to good music, doing some meditation, etc.
3. Try to break off your fears and insecurities
Most dependency starts with a fear of losing love from the people whom you love. You must explore your inner strength to feel confident. You can easily combat fear and feelings of inadequacy if you are mentally strong.
Do not feel too dependent on your spouse. Ask yourself “what will happen if they leave you and walk away”? You will find an inner call telling you that “I am capable of taking care of myself”. I can manage my emotions in the best possible way. This will rebuild your lost self-esteem.
4. Do not try to please others to get love and care
Pleasing others means you are moving away from your inner happiness. It can make you feel inadequate. Look into your inner world and learn to please yourself. You will feel less needy and more self-satisfying. You will become emotionally independent.
5. Solve all your emotional problems on your own
It is important to help yourself if you feel sad or angry about something. Find out ways that can console you. Avoid taking help from others. Solve your personal problems with courage. Practice this regularly to become emotionally confident.
6. Rebuilt your lost self-esteem
Do not self-blame and criticize yourself. Be happy and joyful and talk good things about yourself. Seeking other’s affection by force is not a good option. It is not needed as you are self-sufficient in nature. You know yourself the best and try to feel adequate from within. Saying positive things about yourself will help to build your lost self-esteem.
7. Meet your own needs
If you feel emotionally needy and unhappy, think and feel good things about yourself. Talk positively about your feelings. Examples are – “I can solve my own problems”. “If I am happy, I shall scream out of joy”. “If I am sad, I shall cry loudly”. These are ways to deal with your emotional problems. Your needs can be best satisfied by you. Be responsible for your happiness.
8. Accept others as they are
Do not get angry, if you do not receive the kind of attention you want from others. Everyone has their own limitations. You should accept your near and dear ones as they are. Never expect them to love and pamper you all the time.
Avoid getting into an emotionally dependent relationship. A great deal of love and care from others will hamper your relations forever. If you ask for more love, it will break the relationship.
9. Do activities that you love
Engage in outdoor games and do fitness exercises to keep a healthy body and a fresh mind. Give time to your hobbies and create productive things. Keep your mind occupied with different types of activities. It will help you to handle your emotional needs in a better way. Spend time with your loved ones with ease.
10. Visit a mental health expert
It is good to see a mental health professional if you feel depressed and unhappy. Broken relations take time to heal. The counselor will teach you the right ways to deal with anxiety and depression.
It became evident from the above discussion that emotional dependency is not good for healthy relationships. It is better to depend on oneself and not others. Keep your relations as simple as possible. Nurture your relations with love and care.
Have trust in yourself and you will feel good about yourself. Give enough space into your relationships and let them bloom with beauty and integrity. We should always rely on your internal happiness.
At times, you may need others around you to feel secure and happy in times of bad mood. One should remember that dependence on other people is not healthy. It can never be a permanent solution to all our problems. Warmth and love should make us strong.
We should rely on our inner strengths to live a happy and independent life. Being dependent on others means we are becoming weak from within. Become a self-reliant adult and satisfy all your needs. This will bring in bliss in your personal life.
A teacher by profession, postgraduate in applied psychology and a former school psychologist, Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence, when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare and self improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich lives of few, if not many.