The 3 pathological models of emotional dependence

When we talk about emotional addiction we are referring to those people who show a lot of fear and anxiety about being abandoned and who, because of this fear, tolerate and do anything for the couple or other people to affection do not leave him.

This fear is such that they are seen to be dependent on the person who is willing to do or endure almost anything until the relationship they have is over. However, it is much more complex. Emotional addiction encompasses different types (submissive, avoidant, and dominant), which at first glance appear not only to be dependent people, but quite the opposite.

Let’s see how we bond in healthy and unhealthy ways, And the consequences of the latter.

    Pathological link vs. healthy bond

    Human beings inevitably depend on each other; in fact, we are the most social species of all. In reality, people who do not relate to people we consider rare or who may even end up having serious personal problems.

    So first a healthy link must be distinguished from a pathological link. You cannot be absolutely independent, but not absolutely dependent on one or more people. Either end would be far from a healthy link.

    To bond and establish healthy relationships, we use two psychological methods: regulation and security.

    1. Self-regulation

    There are two ways to regulate: with self-regulation and co-regulation.


    We use it when, in a situation that alters us, we mobilize our resources, our hobbies, our capacities, to return to a state of calm (example: running, meditating, painting, reading, listening to music, relaxing breathing, etc.).


    We use it when, in these adverse situations and to return to that state of calm, we shoot someone we trust (Example: talking to someone, calling a friend on the phone, going to your partner to explain). It’s common and normal that when we feel downhearted, we want to tell someone to let off steam.

    2. Security

    There are those who feel more secure when they are alone or in company. We know people who don’t feel safe when they are alone, such as those who feel “empty” if they don’t have a partner, while others who are afraid of relationships. The two ends are an example of an unhealthy bond, since some they will not have confidence to regulate themselves and others will be wary of others.

    3 ways to connect in unhealthy addictive ways

    In view of the above, we deduce that with self-regulation and a sense of security in solitude, our bonds are more likely to be healthy, and vice versa: Relying on others to be comfortable or wary of them will lead to toxic relationships.

    After all, autonomy and intimacy are what allow us to have “horizontal relationships” with others: I take advantage of the rest but I also know how to regulate myself, that is to say that I do not need the yes or the yes of anyone to regulate me, but I do not deviate either. Managing them badly can lead us to make unhealthy connections in different forms or patterns of behavior that occur in relationships with important people. Let’s talk about it.

    1. Submission template

    This is what is most easily and quickly recognized as emotional addiction. The most common emotion of the submissive person is anxiety, Precisely because of her fear of being abandoned. Its most common form of regulation is that of others (i.e. co-regulation) who have very little capacity for self-regulation. They always need someone to support their problems.

    Background, they feel they don’t deserve to be loved because they think they are worthless which is why they put so much effort into doing whatever it takes so that the other person does not abandon them. Precisely, they behave in a submissive manner for fear of ceasing to want them. They find it difficult to recognize their own needs because they are too attentive to the needs of others.

    They have a hard time saying no to others, tolerating criticism, or receiving from others. This is why, often they feel that others don’t care enough about them, Which do not match them for all the efforts they make and they may even feel “disturbing”.

      2. Dominant model

      The predominant emotion in a dominant person is fear, which is expressed through anger and disgust. Their fear is precisely to be dominated or rejected. They see themselves as bad people and, like submissive, do not deserve to be loved.

      They are regulated by others but in a very subtle way, Exercise this role of control over the other person. However, they can often be shown to be very independent (eg, threaten to leave the relationship), but this is only to mask a sense of loss (eg, apologize and beg when they left).

      Dominant people can also be caregivers, but by making the person they care for, creating that need in the other person, or blackmailing them emotionally. The difference with submissive caregivers is that they care about being loved while dominant caregivers they care about it as a way to master and take control.

      3. Avoidance scheme

      Avoiders cause them to move away, physically and emotionally, from those around them.

      The most common emotion in this case is sadness, That what he really expresses is a great sense of loneliness, and that they try to show as disinterest. They are not really aware of this sadness, as they also distance themselves from their own emotions, ignoring it.

      In addition, they are very suspicious of others; what they fear most is losing their independence or freedom or being controlled if they get too emotionally involved with another person. Therefore, its form of regulation is self-regulation, through it ignore their emotions and sensations. This can make them very unreliable.

      However, what really happens is that they get very little involved in relationships with each other (since we all need each other to some extent). They often experience relationships as an obligation full of responsibility, so they rarely manage to compromise on everything and make them really uncomfortable around others.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cabell, F. (2018). Emotional Dependence on Youth: The New Slavery of the 21st Century. In: F. Cabell, M. Cabell and F. de el Riu Olovera, ed., Advances in Clinical Sexology. pages 207 to 214.
      • Mansukhani, A. (2018). Pathological link models: beyond emotional dependence. In: F. Cabell, M. Cabell and F. de el Riu Olovera, ed., Advances in Clinical Sexology. pp. 191-200.
      • López, F. (2009). Like and dislike. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva.

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