When You Love Too Deeply, it’s Codependency

February 16, 2020
There are those who tolerate and justify abusive and toxic behaviors of others, saying they do it because they love them too much. Deep down. is a codependency that stems from profound insecurity and fear of abandonment.

Some people are willing to do anything, including tolerating any level of humiliation, in the name of love. This stems from the idea that deep love goes hand-in-hand with selflessness. This means giving affection unconditionally and forgiving a million times if necessary. People do this for the purpose of not losing or upsetting their loved one. But this isn’t love, it’s codependency.

Within that group of people, you can find, for example, mothers who pay their children’s debts over and over again. They know it isn’t right but they justify it in the name of love. In addition, some people hug the same partners that mistreat them. They never leave or they leave only to return quickly after. They say that when you love someone deeply, no offense is capable of cutting that connection.

The truth is that, in cases like these, you’re not facing a special kind of love; you’re facing codependency. This leads people to experience a type of attachment that’s ultimately unstable and unmanageable. They literally feel like they can’t live without the other person; this is why they’re willing to do anything to not break that link. In these cases, it’s not deep love but a lack of self-love.

A woman lying down looking sad.

Do you love too deeply or do you need the other person too much?

A codependent person, without realizing it, acts under this principle: “I need them to need me”. It’s their way of forming significant links in their life. Their basic attitude is that of “rescuing” the other person, being a shock-absorber for any kind of negative consequence of the negative results of the other’s actions.

This accompanies a perspective in which they don’t feel that they themselves are important. Apparently, their needs and wishes must always take second place. The only things that really matter are the needs and wishes of the other. For them, they’re willing to make sacrifices. They explain this unfair situation by saying that, when you love deeply, the limits of how much you can give disappear.

However, this situation causes suffering and anxiety. When someone loves another person too deeply, they probably have trouble sleeping and are in a constant state of agitation, have unhealthy eating habits, or difficulty in both areas. They say they love the other person but, sooner than later, their “care” turns into controlling behavior. They behave that way to keep that person tied to them.

“I need you to need me”

The distinctive trait of codependency is that, on one side, there’s someone who wishes intensely to feel useful or needed. This can’t be achieved with someone who’s autonomous and mature. It requires someone who’s fragile and has a lot of problems. Thus, a link is formed in which, on one side, there’s someone who has problems and who doesn’t want to be responsible for themselves. On the other side is the codependent person who, in one way or another, assumes that responsibility that isn’t theirs.

What stems from this is an insane symbiosis, a type of relationship in which there’s abuse on both sides. At the root is a tacit agreement: one person commits to not resolving their own problems while the other keeps them from doing it in exchange for “unconditional love”. It’s a neurotic entanglement difficult for the parties to recognize and analyze.

A woman hugging a man tightly.

Therefore, the codependent person feeds the abusive behavior of the dependent one. Their excesses are of consumption, rage, passivity, or anything else, including their excessive demands. They will help the other person to not have limits. The thing that most terrifies a codependent person is that the other person stops needing them. In their imagination, if this happens, then that person would probably leave them since they wouldn’t need them anymore.

When someone loves another person too deeply, then it might be that they have a profound fear of abandonment. In these types of “love”, suffering comes first, not joy. They’re common in people who experienced emotional deficiencies or abuse during their childhoods they never faced. They get out of this kind of situation when they recognize that a large part of what they’re doing isn’t a result of love but of fear. When the people involved decide to cultivate self-love instead of projecting their lack of it onto another, they can heal.

  • Hoyos, M. L., Arredondo, N. H. L., & Echavarría, J. A. Z. (2007). Distorsiones cognitivas en personas con dependencia emocional. Informes psicológicos, 9(9), 55-69.