Which emotions can be the most harmful?
Recognize and overcome emotional dependency in a partnership
We can become addicted to many things: coffee, alcohol, other drugs, or activities such as exercising, playing computers, or even meditating.
With emotional dependence is meant the dependence on another person.
It can develop in any form of relationship, including friendships or relatives. When it comes to emotional dependence, however, it is often the case in couple relationships. How can you recognize emotional dependence and how do you come up against it?
How does an emotional addiction develop?
As with other addictions, of course, developing an addiction is not the original plan. Something, or in this case someone, just feels incredibly good to us at first. So good that at some point we may have the feeling that we can no longer live happily without the other.
Of course, it is normal and desirable for us to develop attachment and feelings for someone in a relationship. A separation would make us sad. In the case of emotional dependency, however, we align our life to not losing the other: We try to please him or her by almost always having time, for example. This neglects one's own life. In extreme cases, one's own purpose in life is reduced to one person.
Why is there emotional dependence?
- An intense fear of loss can be behind an emotional addiction.
This fear of loss can be traced back to past experiences. These can be childhood experiences or experiences from previous relationships. For example, if we have already experienced suddenly being abandoned, we can be afraid that it will happen again. In the extreme case, this fear can lead to self-abandonment in order to merely keep the other person.
- Emotional dependence can also arise from dissatisfaction with one's own life.
Our partner gives us joy that we don't know how to create in ourselves. There is a lack of hobbies and friendships that fulfill us regardless of the partner.
- Emotional addiction can also be related to low self-esteem.
This manifests itself, for example, through thoughts such as: If the other leaves me, I am not lovable. You can find out how to deal with such critical thoughts in our article Strengthening self-confidence.
How can you recognize an emotional addiction?
Missing another person badly or feeling very sad at the idea of a breakup are normal and healthy phenomena in a relationship. However, if you notice that these feelings determine your behavior, you can observe yourself more closely in the near future. You can ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I trying to please him or her and am I ignoring something that I actually want? (Disproportionate compromises)
- Do I have the urge to constantly get new signs of affection from my partner and do I therefore get in touch very often, for example? (insurance)
- Do I find it very difficult to be happy and carefree when I am not with my loved one? (Problems being alone)
- Am I the driving force in the relationship and is my partner withdrawing more and more? (One-sidedness)
If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, it is possible that you have developed an emotional addiction.
It is important that this is not a diagnosis, but a tendency and maybe just a phase. If you suffer from severe emotional dependency, you can also seek support from a therapist. You will find some helpful tips in our blog article on the subject of psychotherapy.
How does such an addiction affect the relationship?
Emotional addiction often leads to attachment. This often makes the other person feel constricted. He most likely notices that he is becoming more and more the center of life and feels stressed. Being the center of another person and supposedly having to care for their happiness is a great responsibility and an impossible task. One-sided emotional dependence therefore often leads to the partner's withdrawal. This in turn further unsettles the emotionally dependent partner. He continues to strive for closeness and affection, which only drives the other into retreat. So exactly what he actually doesn't want.
Emotional addiction can also take the tension out of a relationship. By constantly trying to establish closeness, the distance that is just as important for a partnership is missing.
If there are open discussions about the situation, there is also a lot of development potential in emotional dependency. There is no instruction manual for relationships, so it is wonderful to learn from the other. In this way the partnership can change and grow.
What can I do if I am emotionally dependent?
The first step is to identify the emotional dependency with the help of the questions above, for example. If you suspect that you may be emotionally dependent, there is a good side to it too: Because now you can change it.
If you notice, for example, that you need constant reassurance and want to elicit sweet words from your counterpart again, say something sweet to yourself in your mind instead. Over time, this self-love means that you need your partner's reinsurance less often.
You can also try to compromise less. For example, stop canceling your dates with friends if your favorite person wants to see you. Trust that your relationship will endure this and even promote it if you do something for yourself. Finally, you can then tell what you experienced.
Be patient with you
Overcoming emotional dependency is a process that is not just about your relationship, but above all about your personal development. By giving yourself the attention, affirmation, and love that you want so much from your partner, you will have a whole new life experience.
In psychology, this is also referred to as self-care. With self-care, you can be more satisfied overall in the long run. However, that doesn't mean you don't care about your partner. On the contrary: Your partnership is less a means to an end, but an important enrichment that you can enjoy.
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