Love Vs. Dependency
Love vs dependency is a critical issue that is not discussed enough, if at all. Knowing the difference helps you make healthy decisions when it comes to relationships. It also helps you become a better person. Therefore, knowing the signs of an emotionally dependent person is important.
Love vs. dependency | What is the difference?
We all seek love. Yet there is no accepted definition of love. Love means different things to different people.
One may say if you love me you will side with me no matter what. Another person will say the exact opposite – if you love me you will tell me the truth no matter what. This makes love complicated.
Moreover, the same person can be an advocate of both these rules depending on the situation. So this is not an easy subject to broach. One might even argue that love is a form of dependency and it is the way that it should be. Such values leads to stress and mental-emotional health issues in the long run. Knowing that let’s define emotional dependency.
What is Emotional dependency?
Emotional dependency is an unhealthy attachment to another person. It does more damage than good.
Now let’s define love,
What is Love?
Love is a healthy positive relationship between two people that enhances life of both partners.
We are all humans. No 2 people will be 100% compatible. Sometimes you will have to compromise. Other times you will have to agree to disagree. The point is you are not always going to feel that your partner is enhancing your life.
This is why it is important to consider the frequency of the warning signs. So as you read the signs of emotional dependency, consider how frequently this happens in your life. Dont jump to conclusions without this consideration.
Why do people become emotionally dependent?
The underlying reason for emotional dependency is a sense of insecurity. It is derived from low self esteem. You do not see yourself as a valuable person. So you live with the constant fear that your partner will leave you. Knowing this will help you understand signs of emotional dependency better.
Signs that you are not in love but emotionally dependent
#1. You can’t say no to your partner
Have you found yourself doing things you would rather not do? If you keep saying yes to things you are uncomfortable with it could be a sign of emotional dependency. Sometimes even thinking about saying no will make you anxious. In some cases you intend to say no but when the time comes the words yes just slips out of you. It messes with your personal boundaries.
Having personal boundaries is important. When you lose sight of these boundaries you lose yourself. After many years in an emotionally dependent relationship you lose touch with your feelings. You realise that you don’t know what you need or like anymore.
#2. You have lost connections with your family and friends
In the beginning it is normal for a couple to spend every waking moment together. But after sometime things return to normal. You make time for your friends and family. You do your own things while your partner does his.
If you are emotionally dependent you need to stay close to your partner. You hate being away from him for even a few hours. This is because of the fear of losing him. Unrealistic thoughts such as the moment you lose your grip he will leave and never return start to emerge.
#3. You can’t live without your partner
As mentioned in the previous point you can’t stay away from him for a few hours. So it’s not surprising that you feel like you can’t live without him. Sometimes you begin to derive your identity from your partner. If you are not his wife who are you? Because of this you can’t imagine a life without him.
#4. You need to fix all his problems.
When you can not see your own value you don’t understand why he loves you. Because of this you feel that he is only with you to get his problems solved. So when you can’t fix one of his problems you get anxious. You may advice him and when he does not listen you react emotionally. Just being there for him is not enough. A small hug or an encouraging word is not enough. You feel the overwhelming need to fix everything.
This is unhealthy because no one can solve every problem. Having such goals can further damage your self esteem. This could eventually lead to mental emotional problems like depression or anxiety disorders.
#5. You try to control your partners behaviour
Trying to control your partner’s behaviour can be a result of jealousy. In this case you don’t want anyone to get close to your partner because you are afraid of losing her. So you try to control who she meets, talk to or keep in touch with. This does not only apply to people of the opposite gender but also to family and friends. You may feel that her friends and family don’t like you and will make her realise that she has better options.
Another reason is because you have taken the responsibility of fixing all of her problems. For that you have to control everything she does including the words she speaks.
Even those who are not dominating indirectly control their partner. They say what their partner wants to hear instead of what they really think. Of course doing this once in a while is no big deal. It only becomes a problem when you turn into someone you are not. Specially at the cost of your own happiness . The frequency of this kind of behaviour is very important here.
#6. You lose your sense of identity
you start wearing clothes that you normally wouldn’t wear? Start eating things that you normally wouldn’t eat. You become someone you are not. Before long you don’t know your own feelings.
someone asks you which country you would rather visit; Japan or New Zealand. You turn to your partner instead of answering for yourself. Is it because you really don’t have a preference? It is possible but if you don’t have a preference about many things that is an indication of emotional dependency.
You might say that I was always like this even when I was a child. In that case it is possible that you have become emotionally dependent of your parents, teachers and friends at a very early stage of life. Anyway the point is having your own identity that is not dependent on anyone else is very important.
#7. You will do anything to maintain the relationship
This is also connected to the previous two points. However your attempts to maintain your relationship might not be innocent. You may find yourself lying to keep him away from other people. Other times you might find yourself manipulating others to make them look bad in front of him . In extreme cases you try to hurt or kill someone who is a threat to your relationship.
#8. You are preoccupied with your partner’s feelings
Being concerned with how your partner feels is normal in a relationship. But when you are emotionally dependent this concern surpasses normalcy. You find yourself wondering what your partner felt when you got mad. Then you go out of your way to either make it up to him or make him understand you did nothing wrong. You find it difficult to believe that he will just get over it. So you live in constant anxiety as long as he is mad at you.
#9. You need lots of reassurance
In this case you need to hear your partner say that she loves you. This is because you cannot see your value and live in fear that your partner will stop loving you. If she is down you might feel the need to keep asking her if she is mad at you. In one way or the other you have trouble trusting the stability of your relationship. You need constant reassurance that everything is ok.
#10. You fear conflict
I bet by now you can almost guess the explanation for this behaviour. You do not think that your relationship could survive conflict. So you might find yourself going out of the way to avoid conflict. This is how you end up doing things that you don’t want to do. Specifically, changing yourself as a person in ways that you are not happy with
#11. You have trouble identifying your own needs and feelings.
When you become too sensitive to his feelings you cant bear to see him upset. So you do everything in your power to make sure he is happy. In the beginning you do things that you wouldn’t normally do. At some point it becomes a habit and you become desensitized to your own feelings. Now you find it difficult to determine why you are not happy. As a result your choices depend on your partner.
If you don’t feel strongly about something you let other people decide. That is okay. But If all your needs seem to be centred around other people you have become desensitized to your own feelings.
#12. You lose your independence
As I explained in the previous point you lose the sense of who you are. Your partner becomes your entire world. Because of this you find it difficult to make your own decisions even about things that do not concern your partner. You will never do something your partner will disapprove of. If you do you will go to great lengths to make sure that he does not find out
So what can you do to end emotional dependency and make your relationship healthy
#1. Improve your self esteem
You need to start valuing yourself. Start by telling yourself that you are enough. You don’t need to change in order to be loved. Use affirmations like “I am enough” & “I am worthy” throughout the day. Apart from that, make time to do things you love. Take care of yourself. Talk to yourself with love and respect. This means you should stop saying disrespectful things to yourself like ” I am so stupid why did I do that.”
#2. Learn to love yourself
For this use affirmations like “I am lovable” and “I love myself” throughout the day.
What makes you feel loved? How do you want your partner to treat you? Treat yourself in that way. If you always expect your partner to be kind to you then make sure that you are kind to yourself
3. Start making your own choices
In the beginning, you might not know what to pick. Just pick something. It does not have to be the right choice. Start with small things like what you are going to wear or what you want to eat. Then gradually expand your choices to bigger and bolder decisions. If you start doing this soon you will shift from picking random things to knowing what you really want.
#4. Do things without your partner
Find things to do without your partner. If you like horror movies and your partner doesn’t go see a horror movie with your friends. If you have lost connection with your family make sure that you reconnect with them.
#5. Find a purpose bigger than yourself and your partner
Find an interest that has nothing to do with your partner. It may be volunteering at a nursing home or starting your own business. For this you will have to try different things until you find something that you like. This is the most powerful thing you can do to become emotionally independent.
#6. Start saying no
In the beginning you may have to say no to random things because you really don’t know what you want. At this stage you are trying to get over your fear of rejection. Start simple; if he offers you an apple, say no I don’t feel like eating an apple. After that you can move to bigger things.
#7. Remember you have the power to be happy with or without your partner
Why do you think that you cannot be happy without your partner?
The answer is simple, when you tell yourself I can’t live without my partner it is going to make you feel weak. But if you start saying I can be happy no matter what that state of being dependent will start to shift
Emotional dependency is an unhealthy condition. Here you give other people too much power in your life. As a result one day you end up wondering what went wrong in your life. So if you identified with the above signs of emotional dependency be sure to take action to overcome it. Always remember accepting that you have a problem is the first step. Good luck on your journey.