Love is one of the forces and emotions that move and motivate us the most. Living as a couple increases life expectancy, facilitates the acquisition of attitudes such as tolerance and negotiation, allows to share joys and receive support in difficult times, as well as to alleviate pain, suffering and stress.
If the relationship is good, it is often a source of joy, satisfaction and motivation, although it is natural that there is conflict and it can also lead to some limitations and suffering.
However, not all affective relationships are positive and functional, but they can lead to deeply maladaptive behaviors, generating suffering or limiting for one or two of the components of the relationship. This is the case in the case of the so-called Fortunata syndrome, which involves and is a type of emotional addiction to another person. It is this syndrome that we are going to talk about here.
Fortunata syndrome: definition and characteristics
It is called Fortunata Syndrome in a manner of maladaptive, abnormal, and dysfunctional relationship that holds some people towards the person of romantic and emotional-sexual interest. Specifically, Fortunata syndrome is characterized by the establishment of relationships of dependence vis-à-vis married people, often establishing themselves in the role of lover of these.
Among the main characteristics or symptoms of the syndrome, there is in the first place the presence of a feeling of deep love for the person object of desire, which persists over time and independently of the existence of a current relationship by ” this”.
It shows deep loyalty and selflessness towards her and it is common to consider that life without the lover is meaningless, With a strong attachment to the loved one that can last for years, even decades.
The dependence is absolute, being able to make any house that the object of their love asks of them and being able to forgive, justify or ignore any action or lie of this or that thing. In addition, you only feel an attraction to that person and other possible opportunities and relationships are left out, and they may even leave everything (work, family, home …) for it.
In these people too the presence of utopian and extremely optimistic beliefs and fantasies is observed regarding the fact that things will change, with the fact that the loved one will eventually leave their current relationship to be together, and there is generally a belief that he has more of a right to be with him than the current relationship. Fantasies and focusing on information that promotes the presence of interest on the part of the loved one are common.
As for the woman or the man married to the object of desire, the person suffering from Fortunata syndrome maintains an ambivalent attitude: on the one hand, he considers her as a rival whom he despises and considers that he takes something, while who else’s hand may show empathy, admiration, or a desire to be like it. It is considered to be mere coincidence or bad luck that the loved one is married and that something will happen that will cause them to end up being by their side.
It is a syndrome which it is not considered a psychiatric disorder or a pathology, Although it has characteristics that can be dysfunctional and cause great suffering over time. In fact, they can lead to obsessive, borderline, or even delusional personality traits, and in themselves involve a toxic relationship between the two parties that can lead to the emergence of abusive behavior.
Typically, those affected are usually heterosexual women, although this can also occur between same-sex couples, men or women. It should be noted that the syndrome is not necessarily identified with the fact of being a lover: it is possible that the affective-sexual relations are maintained, but it can also occur unilaterally.
Origin of the term
Fortunata Syndrome it owes its name to the well-known novel Fortunata and Jacinta, By Benito Pérez Galdós. In this novel, Fortunata is in love with Juan Santa Cruz, who however is married to Jacinta. Joan and Fortunata establish a romantic relationship, wishing Fortunata to be Jacinta’s place, but Joan does not want to leave Jacinta.
Fortunata ends up becoming a prostitute and even marries, but remains Juan’s lover for years, believing that he must be her real husband and even has children with him, as her thoughts about Jacinta shift from anger to admiration and consideration that both are equally legitimate. , considering that the whole situation is justified by the love he feels. All of these features, as we have seen, are not uncommon in the syndrome described above.
Possible causes of this dependency relationship
Many causes can lead to the appearance of this syndrome, And several authors have attempted to explain its origin. Among them, some of the most common and those that have paid the most attention to the syndrome are those of the psychodynamic type.
Some authors suggest that this is a way of putting into practice the masochistic tendencies of those who suffer from it. It has also been proposed that this way of reporting is a reflection of a poorly resolved Oedipus complex, which causes an attraction to married people as the parent of the opposite sex and an ambivalent relationship with the third person with whom she is in. competition (the person of the same sex or the “mother” in the case of the woman).
Other hypotheses state that this is a learned relationship model, as in the habitual dependent personality, in which self-sacrifice is designed and giving everything for the other without considering their own needs as something virtuous and courageous and who must allow everything and accept everything out of love. Feelings of grief and guilt can arise in case the separation or ending of your love can cause pain in the other.
It is also common in women and men who follow a restrictive and rigid education, as well as in people with low self-esteem, insecurity and the need to be accepted.
Next to that it is common for there to be excessive and distorted expectations of what romantic love is, Full of misguided myths and distorted beliefs about what coexistence entails. Finally, from a cognitive-behavioral point of view, the role of reinforcement in maintaining this syndrome was explored: the presence of the loved one acts as an immediate reinforcer, something which, along with fear and avoidance of loneliness, causes loneliness dependent behavior and pattern. think about being maintained.
How to deal with this problem
Treatment for Fortunata syndrome is complex and involves a set of strategies very similar to those employed in dependent personality disorder. The first is analyze the patient’s thoughts, beliefs and emotionsand as to romantic love and respect for one’s relationship to one’s object of desire.
Once this is done, it will be possible to try to work on the awareness of the problem related to the bond or the focusing on the married person, by gradually restructuring the cognitions of the subject and showing the suffering and the limits that it is. generates. As well as the factors that are involved in causing and sustaining the problem.
Work must also be done on the disengagement of the person in question and preventing responses so that they don’t fall on the same person or reestablish another equally dysfunctional relationship.
They can then restructure the presence of myths and beliefs regarding romantic love, and after that, they can apply techniques such as exposure with prevention of response to tasks and situations without thinking or binding to the object. of desire. You will also need to work on self-esteem and independence, as well as on self-focus.
- Barraca Mairal, J. (2015). A form of emotional dependence: Fortunata syndrome. Psychologist Papers, 36 (2): 145-152.
- Castellón Blasco, J. (2005). Emotional addiction: characteristics and treatment. Madrid: Alliance.
- Tuch, R. (2002). Single Woman Syndrome (2nd ed.). Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson.