In most healthy relationships, it’s common for one member to need more displays of affection and affection than the other. This shouldn’t be a problem, and in fact, it is normal and perfectly predictable that there are asymmetries in such a relationship: each individual is unique.
However, as with any psychological phenomenon, if this need for psychological support and displays of affection is taken to the extreme, problems arise. In such cases, often what is called emotional dependence occursOne of the most common problems among those who decide to undergo therapy. Let’s see what it is and what can be done to overcome this problem.
What is emotional addiction?
Emotional dependence is an excessive pathological need for affection, affection and constant availability that some people feel for someone with whom they have established an emotional bond, usually their romantic partners, going so far as to harm both their relationship and their social life and their own well-being in the medium and long term .
Moreover, emotional dependence is not characterized by being accompanied by a high level of nonconformity when choosing who to establish a relationship with. On the contrary: even if the person feels frustrated and dissatisfied because they are not getting all the emotional support they need, the awareness that this problem exists makes people fear even more the possibility of a breakup. Thus, those who suffer from emotional dependence put the person they depend on above other very important aspects of their life.
On another side, emotional dependence should not be confused with what is called “psychological dependence”, Term used to designate cases of dependence. Those who have developed this type of pathology feel the need to satisfy their urges to consume a drug or perform a certain action over and over again. However, emotional dependence is expressed in more subtle ways. Not so much by repeated exposure to a very specific and easily recognizable type of experience (smoking, consuming pills …), but by creating situations in which the fear that the other person will leave us or stop relying on us. is reduced to us.
Emotional addiction relies on more abstract thoughts than psychological addiction, and more so, of a much less individualistic character.
These are the most common causes of emotional addiction. In practice, they often overlap, seeking to influence others.
1. Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is a tendency to have negative self-esteem, And in this case, a feeling of inferiority compared to the other member of the couple.
2. Fears based on traumatic experiences
This problem can be made easier by a history of abuse, as well as a lack of affection and affection on the part of the person’s parents. This is called a condition of insecurity.
3. Lack of social skills
Social skills deficits they are often associated with the fear of loneliness, Make the person believe that they will not have new opportunities to have a close relationship with someone.
4. External pressures
Expectations of all kinds, and even gender roles, can contribute to a person creating and feeling that their purpose is to be with their partner and to do whatever they can to keep them close. sides.
How to detect it? Traffic signs
These are several signs that help identify cases of emotional addiction.
1. Normalization of humiliations
People who are emotionally dependent on their partner can contact idealize them to the point of tolerating abusive situations, Humiliations or abuse of power on their part.
2. Problems of jealousy
too much the appearance of unjustified jealousy is frequent. However, these usually do not result in attempts to control the other person, but rather more discreet means of expressing discomfort: for example, a passive-aggressive attitude.
3. Weakening of other social ties
People who have developed an emotional addiction they stop spending time and effort cultivating friendships that are on the fringes of that relationshipSince they put the other person first and try to please him or her on commitments that have nothing to do with them.
4. Feeling of emptiness and helplessness
Emotional addiction this can be understood as a way of trying to fill a void with the presence of the other person; this points out to those who develop this psychological phenomenon that without this relationship their life would have no meaning, and that they are therefore very vulnerable because their capacity to be happy becomes fundamentally dependent on this individual.
5. Onset of anxiety and stress
The frequent feeling of running the risk of losing this relationship causes the appearance of anxiety problems, with various associated symptoms: irritability, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, etc.
Tips on how to handle it
The best and most recommended way to deal with emotional addiction is to consult a psychologist; there are many helpful psychotherapy resources to help you better manage your emotions and personal relationships. However, apart from that, there are also some simple tips that can help you with this problem. They are as follows.
1. make sure you are not going through an abusive situation
First of all, make sure that what is happening to you does not constitute abuse. If attacks of a physical or psychological nature occur repeatedly, it is important break this relationship as soon as possible and not try to fix it: In such cases, your safety and well-being come first.
2. Detect recurring situations where you give in too much
Over the course of a week, write in a small notebook all the times you feel like in the previous hours you gave in too much for fear of losing that person. When you get to the seventh day, look at what you’ve written.
3. Make sure you maintain an active and varied social life
If you become more and more isolated due to emotional dependence, you will become more and more dependent on that person; it’s a vicious cycle that you don’t care to feed. To avoid this, set a minimum of monthly or weekly hours to use while interacting face-to-face with friends and other people who are important to you.
4. Start personal projects
Devote part of your time to something that is only relevant to you and that it brings you satisfaction through short and long term goals is a good way to take your own perspective on life, not just related to what the other is doing or thinking.
5. Practice assertiveness
Get used to defending your interests and point of view in relationships with that person, it will help you stop assuming that you will continue to play a leadership role in all interactions with you, and it will also show you that nothing bad is happening to disagree with certain things.
6. Go to psychotherapy
If a few weeks go by and you notice that nothing changes, or if you feel very bad and need help as soon as possible, contact psychotherapy professionals. Emotional addiction can be treated with the help of psychological therapy. In this process, the professional detects the personal and contextual causes of the addiction and creates an emotional and behavioral “training” plan to gain autonomy and strengthen self-esteem.
Fr wake psychologists We offer individualized psychotherapy and couples therapy or family therapy services both online by video call and in person at our centers in Madrid, Getafe, Leganés and Móstoles. We welcome people of all ages. Contact us to find out how to better manage your emotions and adopt psychologically healthy habits.
- De la Vila Moral Jiménez, M. and Sirvent Ruiz, C. (2008). Sentimental or affective dependencies: etiology, classification and evaluation. University of Oviedo. Department of Psychology. Field of social psychology.