Emotional dependence or love? What kind of relationship do you live in?

Love is one of the most wonderful experiences we can live. However, we often mistake this feeling for dependency. In fact, the line between love and emotional dependence is very subtle, so it is very easy to overcome it and fall into an unhealthy relationship, where a person cancels his personality to please the other. How to detect if you are going through this? What differentiates a mature love relationship from a toxic relationship? Today I am going to talk about the difference between these two feelings for you to find out what type of relationship you are living.

It can be difficult to realize at times, but there is a difference between being in love and being emotionally dependent on someone. Many people refer to the partner as the other half. This sounds romantic, but in a relationship you need independence. Before you can be in a serious and lasting relationship, you need to be confident with who you are and what you want out of life. A relationship based on codependency instead of love will not last. If we are to be part of a healthy relationship, we need to learn to distinguish between emotional dependence and love.

In today’s text we will address the following topics

  • Emotional Dependence
  • Emotional dependence and relationships
  • Causes
  • Differences between emotional dependence and love
  • Why are dependent relationships so harmful?
  • 6 tips to become less dependent
  • Love x Need

Emotional Dependence

For those who have never heard of it, we can start by understanding what the word addiction is. When we say that a person is a drug addict, we are saying that the person needs a substance (such as alcohol, cocaine, cigarettes …) to feel good and, at the same time, the substance is fundamental to his life, that is, the person depends on it. For this reason, we speak of a substance dependent person.

In emotional dependence, we can find similarities in these two factors:

  • To feel good, a person needs someone else, such as a boyfriend or husband;
  • The need for presence is so great that we must say that the person feels that he needs, that he depends on the other person to live. And so, you can make all sorts of sacrifices to maintain the relationship, even though it may be going from bad to worse.

Emotional dependence and relationships

Often, in relationships, emotional dependence comes into play and the relationship, far from being a form of support, becomes an obstacle to the development and even to the mental health of the two partners.

If you are not happy in your relationship, it may be due to the fact that you are emotionally dependent on your partner. Here are some of the signs that may indicate some level of emotional dependence on your partner.


First, if your relationship brings you suffering (such as sadness or anxiety) and you still feel unable to change your path or to abandon it, it is highly likely that you have some degree of emotional dependence. Relationships are complicated and require effort, but not suffering.

You have no life

One of the most concrete signs of emotional dependence is that you are not doing any activity outside of the relationship. Be it a hobby, studies, a career, friends … everything you do is with your partner.

Inability to be alone

Perhaps you have become so used to sharing everything with your partner that you no longer know what to do when you are alone, or perhaps it is also possible that the worry will confuse you: do you fear that something will happen if you are not with him or go crazy trying to guess the that he’s doing.

Can’t live without it

Do you have thoughts or believe that you could not live without that person or that life would have no meaning without him, that he is your whole world. These ideas are characteristic of a dependent relationship.


Jealousy is often another good indicator of emotional dependence, as it is related to insecurity and lack of communication.


Did you invent the perfect “prince charming? in your head? If the role you created of the perfect partner is simply a role, then you are not in a relationship with a real person. You are in a relationship with a fanciful version of that person. This is not Love.


Emotional dependency can have many causes. In some cases, it may be due to the fact that we have not learned to tolerate the suffering inherent in life and, therefore, we cannot abandon partners who harm us because we are afraid to change or be alone. In extreme cases, we may be unable to leave even if we are experiencing abuse or abuse.

In other cases, due to self-esteem issues, we end up being dependent on our partners to make us feel good, admire us or give us the security that we don’t have.

Differences between emotional dependence and love

1. Love is surrender, dependency is selfishness

When you love, you focus on making the other person happy. You are always thinking about your partner and looking for new ways to surprise and satisfy him. You don’t care who brings you the most into the relationship and you don’t get angry about futile details, because you are aware of the person you have by your side. You don’t try to manipulate or dominate the relationship because you feel safe. On the contrary, you always ask his opinion because you want to feel heard and loved. Mature love gives without expecting anything in return.

The emotionally dependent person, on the other hand, focuses on how the partner makes him happy, establishes a selfish relationship because he surrenders, but only to receive something in return. This person is also extremely afraid of losing their partner, so they often assume a manipulative attitude, try to control the relationship to continue receiving personal satisfaction.

2. Love is freedom, dependency is a prison

Mature love means that each person must be able to grow in the relationship. This implies that everyone is free to express themselves, that they are not afraid to expose their flaws and weaknesses. This mutual trust is liberating and allows both people to express their full potential. In this type of relationship, there is no room for control because one encourages the other to consider new goals and supports them to achieve them.

Mature love is a breeding ground for personal growth. Emotional dependency, in contrast, often becomes a prison. The dependent person wants his partner to spend more and more time by his side, to be totally submitted to the relationship, forgetting his own dreams and projects. Thus, the relationship ends up overwhelming, getting the worse of the two.

3. Love is lasting, dependence is fleeting

Love is maintained throughout time. In fact, unlike passion, mature love develops and grows over the years. Like a tree, it dips its roots deeper and creates new branches. This does not mean that there will be no disagreements and discussions, but each partner will grow alongside the other, deciding that each day they will remain together, not because they need each other, but because they love each other.

Love focuses on the other person, on their positive qualities that make them perfect for you. Instead, emotional dependence is based on a feeling of emptiness that needs to be filled by someone. In fact, many emotionally dependent people move quickly from one relationship to another because basically what interests them is not the person himself, but how they can fill emotional deprivation. These are people who cannot live alone and are not looking for a soul mate, but just someone to fill the void. Or the opposite may happen: a person attaches himself to someone who can harm him simply because he does not believe he can be alone.


Why are dependent relationships so harmful?

Relationships that generate emotional dependence end up making people unhappy. The dependent person always wants more, is not satisfied and lives with constant anxiety generated by the fear of loss. The other party seems increasingly overwhelmed, unable to develop its potential, stuck in a relationship that offers nothing. As a result, sooner or later these relationships come to an end.

Fortunately, if we realize this before, we can reverse it and channel this energy in a positive way, towards a mature love that allows both people to grow and complement each other.

Abusive relationships

Another point of concern regarding emotional dependency is that it leads one person to submit to another, not only when the other person provides affection and security, but even in cases where rejection and contempt are common. The argument they use is that, in any case, the most important thing is not to lose the other’s company. Have you ever heard someone say, “I know he’s not good for me, but I still love him. I cannot live without it! ”.

When a woman is emotionally dependent, there is a high chance that she will fall victim to an abusive relationship. That is, this feeling is the basis of a toxic relationship . Many men take advantage of these women’s fragility to exercise their controlling and abusive side, because they know that they feel trapped in the relationship and will accept everything they do.

6 tips to become less dependent:

1) Awareness of emotional dependence

Awareness of emotional dependence is the first step in starting to overcome feelings. Without being aware of what is happening, everything will continue as it is and the suffering will continue. However, if a change is sought, it can occur with the creation of more self-esteem, self-worth and / or with the help of psychotherapy.

2) Realize that you are in control of yourself

Realize that you are in control of yourself, including your feelings, emotions and actions. Sometimes events in life happen that are uncontrollable, but you need to realize what you can control. Do not allow someone else to control your life and the path you must take.

3) Recognize your emotional needs

Recognize your emotional needs and don’t depend on a single person. That is, work to build a network of relationships (friendships, colleagues, family members) and also consider the importance of doing therapy.

4) Don’t schedule your daily life depending on the other person

Realize that you also have needs that are important and you need to be in control of your own life and do things independently of others. You can commit and acknowledge each other’s needs, but you have to remember equally that you have to live your life, beyond the relationship.

5) Don’t expect anything

We give our love to someone and hope, in return, that all our expectations will be met. And when that person is unable to give us everything we want, we will be angry with him for not being the imagined ideal we had in mind. Our insecurities will arise to try to turn our relationship into a game of manipulation because of our fear of not being loved. We must change our view of love as a way to get what we want and see it as a way to satisfy our hearts.

6) Learn to love yourself

If we see our partner as someone who fills the void within our souls and as a distraction from any unresolved emotional baggage, we are on the verge of being emotionally dependent. To truly love someone, we first need to discover and understand what love is with the person with whom we spend our entire day: ourselves. If we focus this energy on finding out what our strengths are, in addition to putting them to good use, we will be on the right path to improving our relationships.


Love x Need

Love is not the same as lack. Two truly passionate people can trust, respect and accept each other. These things are rarely present in an emotionally dependent relationship. True love involves knowing and loving yourself and then giving the same to another person. This is how two human beings are able to build a happy life together. If you have fallen into a pattern of emotionally dependent relationships, you may want to spend time alone to find yourself. This looks scary. However, if you can do that, you will find that learning to know and love yourself is the most powerful thing you choose to do. As Osho says: “If you are able to be happy when you are alone, you have learned the secret of being happy”.

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