Affective dependence is when our self-confidence and our self-esteem depend entirely on how others see us. Ultimately, one only exists through the eyes of the person with whom one has a relationship.
This relationship can be family, romantic or friendly. Indeed, contrary to what many people think, emotional dependence is not limited to the couple.
This disorder often causes pain and suffering because we always feel like we have to do more to arouse the interest of the other and to meet their demands.
You don’t think you’re up to the task, and in many cases, people who suffer from emotional addiction think they don’t deserve to be loved or happy.
So how exactly do you define this disorder?
What are the causes and symptoms of emotional addiction?
And, can we succeed in putting it under control or even cure it definitively?
This is what we will try to understand together in this article.
The different types of emotional dependence
Affective dependence is a fairly complex disorder that does not obey a single rule.
Behind this disorder often hides fear or fantasies about his place in this world and his ability to live a “normal” life and fulfilled alone (e).
There are three main types of emotional dependence:
Emotional dependence on the social environment
This kind of emotional dependence is characterized by the uncontrollable need to be accepted and recognized by one’s peers. Panic sets in when colleagues or friends do not show enough integration.
So, since the fear of rejection is the worst thing for people with emotional social addiction, they may choose to become invisible and accommodating just to feel included.
These people therefore develop an uncontrollable need to please others by making all the sacrifices imaginable.
Then, they put aside their own needs, values and beliefs so as not to create tension in their social environment. Obviously, this situation is completely destructive in the long term.
Emotional dependence within the framework of the family
The emotional dependence that develops in the family environment is very difficult to recognize and treat.
Very often parents suffer from anxiety and pass these mental disorders on to their children.
In this context, education takes place in the exaggerated fear of the outside world and the family then represents a safe and serene environment.
Those who suffer from this kind of emotional dependence tend to overestimate the protective power of their family.
Self-confidence is not encouraged because the idea that each member of the family is not able to face the great challenges of life is omnipresent. The family is then a refuge but also a prison.
Emotional dependence on the partner
This is of course the most common type of emotional dependence. The couple becomes the source of comfort because it protects from loneliness. At least, that’s what people who suffer from emotional addiction think.
For them, the romantic relationship gives meaning to their life and is the only reason to exist. People who have a lot of personal insecurities are more likely to be prone to this kind of emotional addiction.
They don’t know exactly what they are able or unable to do, so they think they are unnecessary and limited. They therefore seek support and help from their partner.
While this kind of emotional addiction can work for a while, over time it turns into pain.
The emotional addict of his or her partner may develop dangerous behaviors such as excessive jealousy or unlimited submission.
The causes of emotional dependence
Emotional dependence does not present itself. It mainly affects people who have vulnerability problems and very often women are the most affected.
Lack of confidence and self-esteem is obviously the main source of emotional dependence. And, two scenarios give rise to this deficiency.
Childhood and the past
Like many mental disorders, emotional addiction correlates directly with your past, especially the early years of your life.
During their childhood, people who suffer from this disorder lacked affection, love, tenderness and care. This is the result of the physical or emotional absence of one or both parents.
Maybe they were working too much or just weren’t involved in their children’s education. Perhaps they themselves suffered from anxiety and passed it on to their offspring.
The scenarios are varied but the result is the same: the creation of a lack. Then, in adulthood, these children try to compensate for this lack by emotional dependence on a partner, a friend or other members of their family.
Love, friendships and toxic family relationships also play a very important role in the development of emotional dependence. Thus, if an individual has been in a relationship with a narcissistic, violent or emotionally absent person, it has caused a drop in their self-esteem.
When you are constantly belittled or abused by someone you love, you begin to question your abilities and talents.
You only see yourself through each other’s eyes and the image is usually negative, in toxic relationships.
So when you are successful in ending this destructive relationship, you need to take the time to heal properly.
If this healing period is not respected, you start new relationships in which you bring your emotional baggage.
To read also: Bullying: 10 Signs that prove that he is emotionally abusing you
Symptoms of emotional dependence
Affective dependence can very often give rise to addictive behavior. Thus, people who suffer from it tend to abuse alcohol, drugs, gambling or medication more frequently than others.
It is a way for them to escape the suffering they feel. The consequences of emotional dependence can be felt on personal and social life as well as on professional life.
Ultimately, in most cases, it arrives at the dreaded result: separation or the breakdown of social ties.
For example, if we take the couple as the framework for the development of social dependence: the emotional addict will do everything to keep his or her partner as close as possible, which will give rise to possessive and jealous behaviors.
And, it is these same behaviors that lead to the breakdown of the romantic relationship.
How then can we recognize the symptoms of emotional dependence so that we can learn to control them or even cure this disorder entirely? The most common symptoms of this mental disorder are:
1. Feeling like you are not well enough to be with another person – Lack of self-esteem
The basis of emotional dependence is the lack of self-esteem.
The emotional addict does not recognize himself in any quality and does not think he is worthy of others.
He always feels like he’s inferior and weaker.
He then sees the other, or the others, as an almost perfect being (s) who do not even notice him (s).
2. Obsessive fear of losing love
The fear of loss is exponential among people who suffer from emotional addiction.
They are extremely afraid of being alone because they don’t think they can function in this way.
For them, love (or friendship) is the only thing that keeps their heads above water.
3. Insecurity linked to the future
What’s in store for tomorrow? This fear is pervasive in people with this disorder.
The possibilities and opportunities the future offers are more of a challenge than an opportunity to become a better and more fulfilled person.
They have a way of thinking deeply rooted in the present.
4. Compulsive need to be close to others
Someone who suffers from emotional addiction always goes out of their way to be close to others.
First, physically by almost imposing one’s presence at parties, for example, then emotionally, by trying to forcibly create spiritual bonds and connections.
Very often he or she has to face barriers because people sense his or her impulsiveness and the fact that he or she is trying to impose himself.
5. Feeling of guilt if the person suffering from emotional dependence feels that they are not paying enough attention to their partner.
Because she has low self-esteem, the emotional addict never thinks she is up to the task.
He always has the impression of not making enough effort or not investing himself as he should.
He feels that his relationships are crumbling so he is convinced that it is because of a lack of attention on his part when in fact it is because of too much attention on his part.
6. Acceptance of physical and emotional pain for fear of creating distance in your relationship – Fear of abandonment
The fear of abandonment and celibacy is obviously predominant among people who suffer from emotional dependence.
They are therefore ready to do anything to keep their relationships, even abuse, violence and lack of respect.
This is why we often see cases of battered women who stay with their violent husbands.
7. Excessive jealousy
The fear of losing the loved one gives rise to uncontrollable and often unfounded jealousy.
Each person who approaches the partner or his / her friend becomes a danger for the individual who suffers from emotional dependence.
So, he or she starts spying on or harassing their loved one in order to verify their actions.
8. Inability to make decisions alone
Confidence and self-esteem are necessary qualities for making rational decisions.
However, a person with emotional dependence lacks both.
So, she thinks that she is not capable of making an important choice without an outside opinion or without the advice of the person she loves.
9. Increased presence of anxiety
Everything is a source of stress. What if I scared my partner away? What if my partner cheated on me? What if… What if… Anxiety is the most obvious symptom of emotional dependence. Being alone leads to anxiety disorders, being surrounded by a crowd of strangers leads to anxiety disorders, etc. It is an uncontrollable reaction which testifies, once again, to the lack of self-esteem.
10. Chronic dissatisfaction
Life, character, choices …
To put it simply, anything that shapes the personality or anything that comes from personal choices is a source of dissatisfaction.
The person who suffers from emotional dependence has a negative self-image and therefore cannot see his qualities, his successes or his existential decisions as successes.
She is surrounded by negativity of which she is the only source.
How to cure it ?
Of course, in order to treat such a disorder, you must first be aware of your emotional state and the symptoms you are exhibiting.
Very often the only solution is therapy. Only a psychologist can help you understand the causes and consequences of your emotional dependence, which has, over time, become a sentimental handicap.
Of course, you won’t be able to erase your past experiences or change your personality.
But, by focusing on your personal development, you can learn to control the manifestations of your disorder.
Therapy will also help you find the tools you need to learn to accept yourself as you are. Self-love is the pillar of the fight against emotional dependence.
Even if it is a disorder that will never go away completely, understanding why you feel such fear and such a lack of affection will allow you to take the necessary steps to regain your emotional balance and I almost want to say mental.
By practicing exercises like Forced Loneliness, you learn to deal with your fear of abandonment.
Indeed, you must find sports, artistic or spiritual activities that will allow you to distance yourself from your loved ones during specific moments in order to work on your self-acceptance, your emotions and your frustrations.
The road will be long but it will be worth the effort. The important thing is to learn to love yourself and recognize your qualities and talents.
As a couple, within your family or with your friends, you can only be happy if you are personally satisfied with yourself.
When you are able to live a harmonious and fulfilled life on your own, you will be able to have much more balanced relationships with others.