Margaret Paul writes on mindbodygreen.com some of the signs we might be in an emotionally dependent state.
Here are some:
- Do you feel that you can’t live without this person?
- Are you terrified of losing this person? And get anxious when they are not there?
- Do you feel empty and alone inside unless your partner is giving you attention and validation?
- Do you feel jealous and possessive of your partner?
- Do you project onto your partner how you want them to be rather than how they are?
- Are you primarily focused on how your partner treats you rather than on who they really are inside?
- Are you overly impressed by how this person makes you feel special?
- Have you made your partner responsible for your happiness, worth, and safety?
- Do you have a set of expectations that your partner has to meet for you to feel loved and safe?
- Do you tend to idealise people?
If we read them all together, they seem to describe a quite dysfunctional and extreme relationship. Perhaps few of us will respond ‘yes’ to all of these questions. But many of us have probably answered yes to some of them in the past.
Maybe we were in a particularly fusional relationship, or maybe it was a hard time and we insecurely attached to the other due to our fragility, but it’s not uncommon to experience emotional dependence at some point in our lives.
Sometimes the signs are not extreme.
Think about the question: ‘Are you more focused on how your partner treats you than on who they really are?’. This doesn’t necessarily describe an enmeshed relationship where one can’t live without the other, it’s a much simpler situation of ‘dressing the other person with our clothes’. And it is really common. It describes the need to see the other in a way that complies with our expectations and necessities, and therefore fails to really see the other.
So, we don’t have to look desperate to be dependent.
Dependence can take more subtle forms.
It’s tightly linked to the word ‘control’, which is incompatible with love. Needing control, over the relationship, ourselves, the other, leads to seeking it in the many forms we saw above.
So, ask yourself a very simple question instead: “Am I willing to let go of control and predictions in this relationship?”