3 Types of Emotional Dependence
Emotional dependence is a complex condition. Generally it does not obey any one rule, and creating it and maintaining it are two different things. In many cases, it’s also not even a conscious reality. On the contrary, the person with emotional dependence thinks that the problems derived from their dependence have a different, and often external, origin.
Behind the dependence, there is usually extreme fear. There are also many fantasies about one’s own ability or place in the world. One feels, without evidence to support it, that if he broke or lacked certain bonds, he would be in grave danger.
“Bitter knows the bread of others,” says Dante, “and heavy the steps of a strange house, and who better than the poor pupil of an old aristocrat to know the bitterness of dependence?”
This type of dependency is similar to that experienced by an addict. As such, it also entails an abstention syndrome. Episodes of anxiety and depression appear when, for some reason, the bond breaks or weakens momentarily. Existence itself can feel unbearable without that bond. Whoever suffers from it undoubtedly suffers greatly. Three basic types of emotional dependence can be discussed and are as follows.
Emotional Dependence of the Family
This is one of the most difficult forms of emotional dependence to overcome. It usually corresponds to family structures where the parents suffer strong states of anxiety and transmit it to their children. The latter are educated with excessive fear of the world. Anything external is seen as a threat and the family is seen as a shelter.
Those who suffer from this type of dependence overestimate the protection offered by the family. While there are often affectionate bonds and great gestures of solidarity, it is also true that there are insane traits, including the repeated idea that there is risk and the further we are from it, the better.
In these types of families, self-confidence is not encouraged. On the contrary, the bottom line is the belief that the person will be incapable of facing big challenges. In this way, the family becomes a kind of bubble that shelters but also incarcerates. This is the wrong way to deal with anxiety. It is also a vague response to the need to grow and be autonomous.
Emotional Dependence of the Couple
This type of dependency is one of the most frequent. It is also one of the most harmful. It is part of an erroneous belief that assumes the couple gives meaning to their own life or protects them from terrible loneliness. That is why the couple becomes the axis of life itself.
This type of dependency is typical of people who carry great insecurities. They are not clear about what they are or are not capable of doing. In fact, they assume they are very helpless. Therefore, they need support to live and that kind of support comes from their partner. This becomes a kind of protective shield against suffering or fear. That is why a strong attachment develops.
Although this type of dependence can work for a while, the truth is that sooner or later it causes great suffering. The dependent person is so afraid of losing their partner that they can develop very harmful behavior, including excessive jealousy or unlimited submission. Thus, dependence deteriorates the relationship rather than making it stronger.
Emotional dependence on the social environment
The most characteristic aspect of this condition is an excessive need to be recognized and approved of in any environment. If there are not sufficient signs of true appreciation and acceptance, the individual panics. In addition, he will do whatever is necessary to achieve that apparent psychological compensation. Feeling rejected, from their perspective, is the worst thing that could ever happen to them.
To achieve approval, one may become servile or invisible. In the first place, the dependent person feels compelled to please others, even overexerting themselves. They will make any sacrifice so they don’t have to face rejection or confrontation. In the second case, the person relinquishes their convictions in order to dissipate tension in the environment. In both cases, the situation is completely damaging.
In the case of family dependence, couple dependence and dependence on the social environment, what lies deep within is poor self-esteem. Above all, there is no awareness of what one is capable of doing. It starts from the idea that one has little value and is not able to get through life without others.
All those false beliefs translate into fear and anxiety. And as with all unjustified fears that we hold, the best way to overcome it is to face it. Maybe you just need to take your first step. Dare to walk alone. Risk getting out of your comfort zone. Self-confidence is not built overnight, but one thing is certain: if you build it away from your “dependencies,” it will be much more solid.