I Can Live Without You: The Importance of Emotional Independence

· December 12, 2015

“I can’t live without you.” “If you leave me, I will die.” Few phrases can end up being more dangerous in a relationship, few behaviors more destructive than that lead us down the road to absolute emotional dependence where there is no autonomy and we become, little by little, completely vulnerable beings.

We know that love sometimes overwhelms us. We don’t see the boundaries and we let ourselves be carried away by this flood of emotions where we let our entire world revolve around another person, placing ourselves in the background.

If you have ever had this experience, you will undoubtedly know the suffering that can be brought about, for example, when we see ourselves suddenly abandoned or betrayed, distanced from the person around whom we had meticulously “woven” our entire being. We are left empty, lost.

How do we confront life again without that “other half” of ourselves? Cutting the cord is never easy, which is why we must learn to work on our emotional independence as much as possible from the very beginning, always maintaining a healthy equilibrium.

Getting over a breakup is never easy, and it’s even harder if we have been completely dependent upon the relationship. However, with time and with a proper personal approach, the day will arrive when “we let go,” when we are free from the burden and are able to say, “At long last, I can live without you!”


Dependent personality disorder

To understand emotional dependency on a partner, it’s important to first understand dependent personality disorder. This manifests when we haven’t established adequate boundaries and our self-esteem, our values, and our self-concept are weak and unprotected.

There are many people today who end up falling into this type of behavior, and the majority of them, far from recognizing the reality they are living, often refuse to accept help or even listen to friends and family until it’s too late and they wind up in a depression.

So let’s get to know the principle characteristics of people with this disorder:

  • They let their partner decide for them.
  • Their whole existence is centered on their sentimental partner, letting other social and even family relationships be pushed to the side.
  • They are complacent. They avoid contradicting any word or idea to avoid suffering rejection or criticism.
  • They have more trust in their partner’s capacities than their own.
  • The image that they have of themselves is very weak and even negative. They think that they are nothing without the other person.
  • They often ask others for their opinions on nearly everything.
  • They doubt themselves and idealize their partner.
  • Their greatest fear is being abandoned, which is the source of their obsession with gratifying, being helpful, and allowing any kind of emotional manipulation as long as they don’t lose their loved one.
Girl in Field Looking at Heart

Learn to develop your emotional independence

Emotional independence is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. You can love and even adore your partner while at the same time maintaining healthy self-esteem and cultivating your personal growth. You can be  maturing as a couple but also taking steps forward as a person.

Focus on the following pillars in order to achieve emotional independence:

  • Stimulate your partner’s emotional growth as well as your own. Let him or her work toward their dreams while also sharing them with you, offer them their own personal space, lend them confidence and support, and also demand the same for yourself.
  • Always be able to make your own decisions based on your own values. If your partner infringes upon what you believe and what defines you, imposing their own beliefs, they are directly attacking your emotional independence.
  • Voice your ideas, your criteria, explain your thoughts, and always act in accordance with your principles, maintaining good self-esteem. Avoid always being complacent and don’t hide what is hurting you.
  • Don’t build your whole universe around your partner, thereby renouncing everything that you used to be. Don’t be that little satellite orbiting around a great planet. On the contrary, you must be two planets harmoniously orbiting in the same universe.

Image courtesy of Amanda Cass