Bidependence: A Captive Situation

Bi-dependence is a complex psychological condition that's present in many people addicted to drugs or other substances and situations. It could be said that it's an extreme fear of autonomy.
Bidependence: A Captive Situation
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 09 April, 2023

Bi dependence refers to two kinds of dependency. The first is linked to a drug or a situation. For example, alcohol, marijuana, or sex. The other relates to an addict’s dependence on another individual. This is usually the partner, although not necessarily.

Technically, bi dependency is a secondary dependency that emanates or feeds on addictive disorders. It’s also known as double dependency and is classified as a sociopathic disorder or accommodating relationship. The sufferer is conditioned by a lack of autonomy.

On the other side of the dyad established in this dependency, lies someone who behaves like a coaddict. In other words, they favor or promote the situation. This individual also sees their behavior as strongly conditioned and restricted but may feel that it’s impossible to change the relationship.

“Codependency differs from bidependence in that the non-addicted person establishes a dependency relationship with respect to the addicted subject (alcoholic, heroin addict, etc.) while -conversely- bidependence is the relationship that an addict maintains with respect to another person or persons.”

-Carlos Sirvent-

Casino chips, fire and money
In addition to drug and alcohol use other addictions, people, and behaviors influence the disorder.

Defining bi dependence

In formal terms, bi dependence is the set of attitudes, behaviors, and emotions that an addict adopts in relation to another person on whom they depend. Those affected by this disorder deliberately renounce their autonomy and adopt habits of passivity, except in situations that involve the maintenance of their primary addiction.

This means that the bi-dependent only makes decisions regarding their primary addiction. Indeed, they only ever take the initiative in that area and exhibit to others these preferences and desires. However, for everything else, they adopt such a passive attitude that they may even go so far as invalidating themselves. In fact, they allow the other person to decide for them in every other aspect of their life.

Certain people who are addicted to drugs or objects suffer from this disorder. It’s said that it implies sociopathic traits. That’s because they expect the other person to carry their burdens for them and don’t consider what they might need themselves. They frequently see this as ‘love’.

The characteristics of bi dependence

In addition to the above, there are other characteristics of bi dependence, specified by the Sentimental Dependencies Test (TDS), designed by Sirvent and Moral in 2007. They’re as follows:

  • The sufferer obsessively searches for a partner and tends to idealize them.
  • They’re unaware that they have a problem.
  • They experience strong feelings of emptiness and the impossibility of escaping their situation.
  • The relationship they establish with the person they depend on is extremely similar to an addiction.
  • They look for sensations in their partner similar to those they experience with the drug.

All of these traits are specified in the following behaviors:

  • Emotional blackmail.
  • Parasitism in the relationship.
  • The demand for unconditional love.
  • Alternating dominance and submission.
  • Fears and the obsessive avoidance of abandonment.
  • Extreme reactions to change or the unknown.
  • Placing the blame on themselves or others for the difficulties.
  • Sentimental manipulation of the other person, through reproach and guilt.
Distressed woman, representing bi dependence
Bidependent people tend to feel empty and fear that they won’t escape from the situation.

The prison of bi dependence

Bi dependence alters the reward system in the brain. In fact, it causes certain reinforcers to lose value compared to those that become the most important for the individual. In this context, they experience a need for another in an obsessive and passionate way. Therefore, if the relationship ends, they often quickly look for a replacement.

In the case of men, they tend to use their partner in the same way that they use the drug. Women exhibit submission and self-destructive tendencies without understanding why. The most illustrative situation occurs in sex workers who act as pimps.

It could be said that the bi- dependent’s autonomy is extremely compromised. They see independence as dangerous terrain that they don’t want to venture into. They have an irrational fear of loneliness but can’t conceive or establish an emotional relationship that transcends their own parasitism. In effect, they’re looking for a return to the womb and to not have to grow up.

Bi-dependency isn’t easy to treat with psychotherapy. Moreover, sufferers tend to boycott their own recovery. However, if work is focused on restructuring their identity and the image they have of themselves, they can make progress. Currently, experts don’t consider this problem to be a clinical entity as such, but as a substrate of addiction.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Chávez Bedregal., LeónGarcía, C. (2018). Procesos de rehabilitación en sujetos ex-adictos a Sustancias Psicoactivas. Repositorio Institucional de la UNAS.
  • Moral Jiménez, M., Sirvent Ruiz, C. (2008). Dependencias sentimentales o afectivas: etiología, clasificación y evaluación. Revista Española de Drogodependencias, 33(2).
  • Sirvent, C. (2000). Las dependencias relacionales (DR): dependencia emocional, codependencia y bidependencia. In I Symposium nacional sobre adicción en la mujer (pp. 144-256).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.