Strategies to fight emotional dependence
Emotional Dependence is the excessive necessity to be with another person. It is not love, but need.
Normally it occurs in a relationship or marriage and is more common in women. In most cases Emotional Dependence is based on a core believe that you are incapable of taking care of yourself in the world, and that your only way to survive and cope in life is by turning to other people for help.
We consider Emotional Dependence unhealthy because it is excessive unlike a normal relationship and because the individual cannot function by himself.
Men can also suffer from Emotional Dependence, but in general it tends to be an atypical form, sometimes manifested as a need to dominate and control the relationship.
Dependent individuals tend to cling to people and be obsessed with the idea of a possible abandonment. They need constant contact with their partners. In the same way that happens with addictions, the object of this dependence takes priority in their lives, everything else is less important and everything they do is related to their partners.
The loss of the relationship is so unbearable that the individual accepts being disrespected, mistreated or abused by their partner and normally the relationship only breaks up if the partner decides to do so. The dependent tends to idealize the partner and chose only to see the positive aspects of the relationship. The dependent is likely to suffer associated depression or anxiety and they would normally seek professional support only when these symptoms are very severe or in the process of a breakup.
A dependent woman would normally create such bond with a narcissistic, selfish man that seems to be controlling the environment very well.
This type of women is the perfect victim for them. A dependent person would deny her/his needs in order to always prioritize the partner’s ones. An emotional relationship is completely unbalanced and asymmetric. Dependent people have a constant fear of being alone and experience a severe distress from the idea of living without a partner or a strong figure beside them.
Fighting emotional dependence is not an easy task especially if you have been dependent on others for all of your life: dependent on your parents, friends, spouse, etc. If you are an adult, this is most likely a part of your personality structure, which means it can take a lot more work to be changed, but with a strongly organized programme and sufficient motivation you can significantly improve your life.
It is highly recommended to seek for professional support if you consider you suffer from Emotional Dependence. This is a difficult process that can be much easier with the appropriated help.
A few strategies that you can use to battle emotional dependence:
- Write your own “independence statement”, written by and for yourself. Make clear the fact that you want to be independent from the manipulation of the others.
- Speak with those persons that you feel psychologically dependent of and let them know how you feel when you do things by obligation.
- Establish short periods of time (to begin with) to interact with dominant people and express towards them simple phrases such as: “I am sorry, but I do not want to do this”. There is no need for more explanations although you might find yourself tending to offer supplementary excuses.
- If you feel you are very dependent on your spouse, after letting him/her know how you feel, you can agree with them a specific sign to be able to communicate and claim your autonomy even when you are in public.
- If you feel you are being manipulated by others into doing things that you don’t really feel like doing, make sure you let them know and you behave as you decide. For example, you can say: “I feel you are trying to manipulate me to join you to the cinema, but in reality I don’t feel like going to the cinema and I will not go.”
- Remember there will always be somebody disapproving your actions no matter how well you try to behave. This has nothing to do with who you really are, it is just their own right to having an opinion.
- If one day you feel you have to visit somebody only by obligation, ask yourself if you would like to receive a visit from somebody just because of the same reason.
- Do something new in your life, something before you wouldn’t have done, such as voluntary work, go out with friends, read or find a job that you enjoy and gives you personal satisfaction.
- Be economically independent as much as possible and make sure you do not have to rely on anybody for this.Don’t give orders; don’t take orders.
- Accept your intimacy and learn how to enjoy it. You do not have to share everything with somebody.
- When you go out with your spouse to a party or social event, try and separate yourself from him/her; relate yourself with other people. You don’t have to be with your spouse all the time. In this way you have a double experience and you both grow.
- If you feel like going shopping and your boyfriend/ husband wants to watch football, do so; allow yourselves temporal separations, this will increase your independence and self-security.
- Remember that making the others happy is not your responsibility. You are only responsible for your own feelings.
- A habit is not enough reason for you to do something. The fact that you are used to do things in a certain way doesn’t necessary mean that you have to carry on doing the same.
- The key for a functional life is being independent. The key for a happy couple is minimum fusion and maximum autonomy.
- The ones that will respect you the most for being independent are the ones that tried to keep you under their control.
Do you think you are suffering from Emotional Dependence and would you like to seek professional help? Please make an appointment with our Clinical Psychologist, Alina Vasilache. She is available in Jumeirah and Tecom. Alternatively you can email Alina directly on email@example.com.
Alina strongly believes in the immense healing power of the emotional corrective experience. This is a process by which a patient gives up old behaviour patterns and learns or relearns new patterns by re-experiencing early unresolved feelings and needs.