Social relationships are often a fundamental support network, which we need both to develop psychologically and to be happy. However, sometimes harmful interaction dynamics appear, capable of negatively affecting our way of thinking and perceiving reality.
Perhaps the clearest case we have is of cults in which people are manipulated into blindly obeying the organizational elite and cutting off the rest of their ties with others; however, a similar phenomenon can occur on a small scale, in relationships between two people.
This is the topic we are going to focus on in this article; here we will focus on how emotional dependence in interpersonal relationships gives rise to thoughts of self-deception maintain this link even though it is harmful to us.
What is emotional dependence?
Emotional dependence is a dysfunctional psychological pattern with which some people develop a permanent dependence on another person, from whom they constantly need recognition, acceptance, support and, if possible, affection in any area of their life. What characterizes affective dependence is the asymmetry of power and the role of submission to the person on whom one depends, as well as the fear of losing one’s support.
It is a very negative type of relationship for the person who develops this constant dependence on another personwho can be your own partner, close friend or family member.
Affective dependence generally works in a bidirectional way, since it requires a dependent person placed in a position of submission and inferiority and a controlling person who progressively undermines the personality of his victim and increasingly reinforces his dependence. Often the two roles are mutually reinforcingtherefore the situation worsens over time.
Self-Delusional Thoughts Typical of Those Who Suffer From Emotional Dependence
There is a series of classic thoughts based on self-deception that hide a situation of psychological manipulation and/or constant submission to the other. Let’s see what are these ways of thinking that the emotionally dependent person develops.
1. “Only this person understands me”
Emotional dependence is based in most cases on a series of self-delusional thoughts that make the person believe that their romantic or friendly relationship is real and does not cause them any harm.
One of those thoughts has to do with believing that he has settled down with that person he depends on, a very special relationship of complicity in which the two parties understand and understand each other perfectly still
In this way, they ignore any signs of mistreatment, abuse or violence from the person in a superior position, arguing that no one understands us like them and that our relationship must continue to exist.
2. “I can’t trust myself”
The lack of confidence shown by people in a situation of affective dependence is explained by low self-esteem, another of the classic characteristics of the development of this type of relationship of dependence.
It is common to believe with total conviction that we are not able to achieve by ourselves any of the objectives that we propose and that only with the help of those on whom we depend can we achieve our goals.
This phenomenon of lack of confidence is often caused by gaslighting or other techniques of psychological manipulation and destruction of the victim’s personality, used by the other person who exercises the addiction.
3. “Being with this person is my destiny”
magical thinking it is one of the intellectual modalities most commonly practiced by people who are emotionally dependent on others.
Thinking that we have to continue with our partner or with our friend because we are destined to do so is another of the ways in which we deceive ourselves and remain anchored in a dependent type relationship.
4. “I sacrificed so much for this relationship that at some point it has to work out”
Emotionally dependent people tend to systematically sacrifice themselves for the well-being of others, give in at all times and always put the interests of the other before your own.
This constant sacrifice ends up generating in the mind of the person thoughts like “so many sacrifices will be worth it in the end”, a false idea that sooner or later they will get better with this person and everything will work out.
However, the reality is quite the opposite and what usually happens is that the dependent relationship gets worse and bigger, with the corresponding impact on mental health that this brings.
5. “If he makes the decisions for me, it’s because he gives me everything”
Believing that the other is always better than us it is also linked to a gradual decrease in one’s own self-esteem and with the conviction that the other will always do it better than us.
In a dependency relationship, the victim ends up depending on the other in all areas of life and to perform any activity, even simple or daily.
6. “This person knows me better than myself”
Low self-esteem and the loss of self-confidence reach levels as high as the fact of considering that the other knows us better than us and knows what is best for us.
This allows for total control and submission to the other person and for us to be absolutely dependent on them in any area of life.
7. “Without him, I will never be happy”
Linking one’s own happiness to the person on whom one depends is also an unequivocal and classic sign of relationships of emotional dependence.
This predisposes to the need for wanting to be with the person you depend on at all costs before the fear of never being able to be happy if not with him.
- Jordan, CH; Spencer, SJ; Zanna, MP (2003). “I love myself…I don’t love myself”: implicit self-esteem, explicit self-esteem and defensiveness. Spencer, SJ; Fein, S.; Zanna, MP; Olsen, JM (ed.). Motivated social perception: the Ontario symposium. Flight. 9. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. p.p. 117 – 145.
- Smith, emergency; Mackie, DM (2007). Social Psychology (Third ed.). Hove: Psychology Press.