How Can You Identify Emotional Dependence?

It's not easy to admit that you suffer from emotional dependence. However, once you've admitted it, you can start to get out of the vicious circle. Professional help and counseling will be essential in this process.
How Can You Identify Emotional Dependence?

Last update: 10 September, 2019

Given that it’s a very common problem in today’s society, it’s important to learn to identify what emotional dependence really is. The good news is that, with professional help and willpower, we can overcome it. It’s vital that once we’ve detected the warning signs we don’t ignore them.

Emotional dependence is a psychological state that produces discomfort and distress for people in the long term. This is because they rely heavily on other people in order to feel good about themselves. In other words, the responsibility for one’s own emotional state transfers to another person.

Whether your emotional dependence is connected to a relative, partner, friend, classmate, or workmate, you need to be able to work on it and fight against it. Only in this way will you find release from your suffering and be able to establish healthy, authentic relationships.

Emotional dependence undermines individuals and can even make them think their discomfort and unease are quite normal. Not knowing how to correctly manage their emotions, they look to others to rely on. They desperately want to feel some sort of satisfaction, without ever actually achieving it.

How Can You Identify Emotional Dependence?

About emotional dependence

According to attachment theory, human beings have the need to establish loving relationships which they resort to in uncomfortable situations (stress, anguish, suffering etc.). However, when a person develops such a strong bond that the mere thought of ​separating from that person is unbearable, then there’s a problem.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of emotional dependence, even from an early age. From parents being overprotective, to experiences of abandonment, etc. It’s not always easy to identify a single cause. In general, it’s a problem created by many different factors.

People with low self-esteem are prone to be emotionally dependent and often tend to get involved in toxic relationships. The fear of being alone, not being loved and not being “enough” for someone else makes them prefer to remain in relationships that are harmful both for themselves and for others. Suffering becomes commonplace in these situations.

In the area of relationships, emotional dependence is fed by emotional immaturity, misconceptions, stereotypes, and even the idealization of romantic love.

Here are some of the signs that may indicate that a person is emotionally dependent.

Some signs of emotional dependence

  • They don’t look out for their own needs, but seek to meet the other person’s
  • They seek the other person’s acceptance at all costs. In the same way, they always look for other people’s approval in order to feel good about themselves.
  • There is a constant feeling of guilt that leads to thoughts such as: “I’m worthless”, “I don’t deserve anything”, “I’m nobody without the other person”, “I’m no good for anything”, and so on.
  • They always feel sad and dissatisfied with themselves.
  • They tend to manipulate the other person so that they don’t abandon them. The fear of separation is unbearable.
  • They don’t accept responsibility for their own emotions and feelings, and they tend to view themselves as the victim in all situations and scenarios.
  • They tend to idealize the other person, and think they can’t live, and can’t be happy, without them.
How Can You Identify Emotional Dependence?

The importance of professional help

It isn’t possible to truly live if we spend our lives seeking to be valued, accepted and applauded by others all the time. Nor is it possible to always live with a “crutch.” Although it may be scary at first, it’s important to learn to be independent.

If parents realize that their children are suffering from emotional dependence, then they should get professional help. They should also ensure that they correct any attitudes or situations in the home that may be harming the family relationships.

It’s extremely important to start working on self-esteem in children from an early age, in order for them to be able to establish healthy and constructive relationships. At the same time, they need to know how to get away from relationships that aren’t at all healthy.

Here’s another article on a similar subject which may be helpful to you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aiquipa Tello, J. J. (2015). Dependencia emocional. Revista de Psicología.
  • Castelló, J. (2012). La Superación de la Dependencia Emocional. In La superación de la Dependencia Emocional.
  • Lemos, M. A., Londoño, N. H., & Zapata, J. A. (2007). Distorsiones cognitivas en personas con dependencia emocional. Informes Psicológicos.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.