Overcoming Emotional Dependency: How to become emotionally strong?

by cadabamshospital

07 May,2020 | 5 months read

As soon as we hear the term ‘Emotional Dependency’, a gloomy picture occurs in mind that one person depends on the other for everything they do, the decisions they take or the achievements they make.

Well, this is only one side of the story. Let’s understand ‘What is Emotional Dependency?’ and How it develops? 

Emotional dependency is a state of mind where a person is incapable of taking full responsibility for their own feelings.

They do have emotions like sorrow, grief, heartbreak, anxiety and depression but they cannot embrace, accept or nurture these feelings.

They tend not to address the cause of these feelings and thus comes the need of approval from others. They are emotionally dependent on others, especially on their partners’ approval and attention to define their worth and personality.

When they are not taking responsibility for their own feelings and to define their own worth, they depend on others is called Emotional Dependency. This state is nothing but being a victim of others' choices. Here, the individual needs to understand that

It is not others job to fill their emotional void or needs and we should realize that the true emotional fulfillment can only be provided by loving yourself.

Emotional Dependency is a terrible state to be in because one never feels content, happy or satisfied without other’s approval.

Some Symptoms of Emotional Dependency

  1. The constant need to be close to other people
  2. Constant insecurity
  3. A feeling of not being good enough to be with the partner
  4. Obsessive fear of losing their partner
  5. Constant feeling of guilt if they don’t pay total attention to their partner
  6. Acceptance of psychological and physical suffering, for fear of losing the relationship
  7. A constant and dominant feeling of anxiety

What does emotional dependence look like?

Emotional dependency is like a spectrum, where emotional independence and self-fulfilment will rest on one end and complete dependence on a partner, friend or loved one is at another end.

Emotionally independent people know how to be emotionally strong and can deal with problems on their own.

They prefer coping with their emotional needs on their own, however, they may face difficulties in becoming vulnerable and open with their partners or loved ones leading to relationship issues. 

Interdependent relationships are the healthiest type because they fall in the middle. Interdependence also means that you know your own emotional needs and put in the effort to meet them.

If you can’t meet all your emotional needs, then you may reach out to your partner. In other words, you can depend on them for some emotional needs, but not all of them.

Most people cultivate interdependent relationships with a network of friends, colleagues, mentors and loved ones where each need is met via different relationships leading to more fulfilling and balanced lives without extreme reliance on any one individual or relationship. 

Now, at the other end of the emotional spectrum, we have emotional dependence. Here you will usually end up depending on your partner to meet all your emotional needs.

For instance, if you are facing any emotional distress, you may want to rely on your partner immediately before trying to manage them by yourself.

In such a relationship, you may feel like you can’t live without your partner’s emotional support. This suggests that your relationship has gone toward an unhealthy level of dependence.

Some of the key signs of emotional dependence include:

  • Idealizing your relationship or your partner
  • Believing that your life lacks any meaning or worth without them
  • Thinking that you won’t find any happiness or security if you’re single
  • The constant fear of rejection
  • Persistent need for reassurance
  • Feeling empty or anxious when spending time alone
  • Depending on your partner to build your self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence
  • Feeling jealous or possessive
  • Having difficulty trusting them

How does emotional dependence affect you?

If you have trouble meeting your emotional needs and are quite emotionally dependent on your romantic relationships, the effects will start reflecting on other areas of your life as well. Here are some of the ways that emotional dependence manifests itself:

 Problems within the relationship:

If you want to know how to get emotionally strong, you will have to identify the triggers that cause any major conflicts in the relationship.

Mostly, emotional dependence doesn’t lead the way for a healthy relationship. If a partner is emotionally dependant then they will need loads of reassurance and support from their partners. 

They will constantly ask questions like:

  • Do you love me?
  • Am I enough?
  • Am I being a bother?
  • Do you want to spend time with me?
  • Do I look okay?
  • Are we heading towards a breakup?

If you are feeling unsure and having doubts about your relationship, then you may need constant approval from your significant other to feel good about yourself.

This need can trigger abandonment fears because you won’t get the constant reassurance that you need. Having abandonment issues can lead to attempts that you will want to control their behaviour and hold on to them by any means necessary.

However, trying to control every aspect of another person will backfire as they will tire of the constant pressure.

If a person feels that they are being manipulated or if they are unable to make their own choices they may end up breaking up with you.

Hence, you may notice a pattern of failed relationships if a person is emotionally dependent.

High level of stress

Oftentimes, emotionally dependency in relationships can lead to emotional distress at different levels. If you are having constant thoughts and worries about where your relationship is going and whether your partner’s feelings are changing for you can make you feel uneasy and anxious. Such thoughts may further become intense when you aren’t with your partner and you may spend all your time thinking about what they are doing and whether they are still in love with you. As a result of this fixation, your baseline stress level can become quite high.

High-stress levels can have a significant impact on the way we experience and express our emotions. A few of the things that you might notice are

  •         Rapid and sudden mood changes or swings
  •         Constant feelings of depression and low mood
  •         Sudden outbursts of anger or sadness accompanied by shouting and crying
  •         Intense feelings may manifest as violence towards objects and people
  •         Somatic symptoms like headaches, stomach distress, and muscle tension

Poor self-care:

If you are completely relying on your partner for any emotional support, then you will lag behind in prioritizing yourself.

This may manifest as lack of hygiene, dependence on drugs and alcohol, lack of exercise or even not taking time for yourself and cultivating your hobbies and interests.

It’s not realistic to put all your expectations on one person and have them meet all your needs, every time. You must have coping tools that help you be self-reliant, especially when others are not available.

Additionally, when you experience any emotional distress, usually when your needs are not met, it can affect your mental health and lead to panic attacks.

If you notice that your reliance on a single person or relationship is causing an undue amount of stress in your life, it is time to reevaluate your priorities and look at cultivating self-love and self-care. 

How to stay emotionally strong?

Let’s find out few ways how one can overcome emotional dependency and how to be emotionally strong:

Be Aware of your Vulnerable Self

To feel worthy and lovable, emotional connection with self is very crucial. Pushing away your thoughts and feelings only create a void within.

Getting to know yourself through a process of self-expression is how you can establish a self-connection.

Practice expressing yourself through spontaneous writing, journaling or voice recording.

Self-connection allows you to be self-compassionate and when you learn to express yourself, you start to deal with your emotions more compassionately, rationally and responsively.

Recognise and Let go of the Past

A lot of neediness stems from difficult events that happened during childhood or adolescence. Remembering the past events and how you reacted to those creates a vicious cycle.

You don't want to stuck in that. Identify these incidents for a better understanding of how you ended up in this state of helplessness and emotional dependency. It only hinders you to move forward. 

Are you looking for Overcoming Emotional Dependency treatment? Call us to book an appointment with our counsellor or mental health professional.

How to Become Emotionally Strong or Overcome Emotional Dependency?

Does emotional dependency sound like something that you have experienced yourself or in your partner within the relationship? Try to answer this honestly.

If your answer is ‘yes’, try not to be too hard on yourself. It is absolutely possible to address this issue and eliminate it by taking the right action.

Below mentioned are a few tips that can help you to recognize and meet your emotional needs. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on to your friends and partner for emotional support, but it’s also crucial to know how to become strong mentally and show up for yourself as well.

Overcoming Emotional Dependency

  • Be aware of who you are and your emotions

Accept yourself and don’t deny who you are. To become a better version of yourself you first need to embrace your true self and be aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

The first step towards learning how to stay emotionally strong and meeting your emotional needs is by identifying and acknowledging your emotions as and when you experience them. Initially, this is going to be challenging, and it’s perfectly normal to face difficulties while trying to manage your unpleasant feelings.

But, understand that everyone goes through ups and downs throughout their lives. Besides, how do you experience and cherish the good if there’s no bad? The emotions that you feel are negative are as important as having the positive ones, and they help you recognize when things aren’t going right.

Therefore, try to get in touch with your sense of curiosity instead of relying on someone or hiding from the negative feelings with the attempt to make them go away. Shift the focus internally and try to understand what they are telling you.

If you want to know how to increase mental strength and learn about yourself and your emotions, you can involve yourself in the following.

  •         Meditation
  •         Breathing exercises
  •         Spending time with yourself
  •         Spending time with nature

Explore factors that trigger emotional dependence

Certain factors will trigger emotionally dependent behaviors within you. Some of them may include –

  • Stress from outside factors such as trouble at work and family issues may cause you to seek reassurance from others.
  • Committing a mistake might lower your self-esteem and you may depend on the approval of others to lift you up.
  • When your friends or partner spend time with others, you might feel rejected by them or losing their love.

Therefore, one must try to identify specific triggers so that they can develop a coping method to build mental resilience and emotional strength. This could involve talking to a friend about the feelings or using positive self-talk to focus on one’s strengths and successes.

  • Don’t be stuck in the past:

When you’re constantly stuck in your past you are unable to move forward or make better choices for yourself. It hinders your growth to remember past events and people and to hold on to regrets.

By doing so you create a vicious cycle and by doing so you forget to live your life and feel constant disappointment and sadness.

  • Decide for Yourself:

Overcoming emotional dependency requires you to make logical, and reasonable, choices especially the ones you make on your own. Don’t rely on others to talk to you or make decide on your behalf because they seem more decisive.

Ask yourself exactly what you want from life and don’t be afraid to achieve it. Trust yourself, your instincts and be confident about what you want or think.

Start with small things like how you would like to celebrate your achievements, what you would like to have for lunch or dinner, how you would like to spend the weekend etc.

Gradually move on to big ones like financial decisions etc.  Make mistakes, learn from it and do better next time.

  • Don’t Seek Permission:

While making big decisions in life we often seek advice from our family and friends. Although we may simply ask for feedback, what we really want is validation It’s alright to do so. But for minor things, do not seek permission from others.

Have a judgemental call, seek within what you want and go ahead. Seeking permission every time for every little thing takes us away from being self-reliant.

Nobody can give you 100% surety of what’s right and what’s wrong about your decision. You just have to be in sync with yourself and take the necessary plunge.

  • Don’t get too attached to people:

We all need our support system i.e. our friends and families even pets for that matter. But when we get too attached we cannot do our best as individuals or to have our own point of view.

Learn to keep a healthy balance between yourself and relationships. Learn to expect less from others, so don’t feel disappointed later on.

  • Take full responsibility:

Take responsibility for the choices and the decisions you make. You can persuade yourself of anything but it’s good to take responsibility for doing so. It means to be entirely aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions and accept them.

  • Get Professional Help

You can perfectly follow these tips on your own, however, sometimes a helping hand gives you a little push for standing up for yourself.

It can be extremely tough to get over emotional dependence, but it is necessary to find the strength to do so. Unless we recognize the traumas and past sufferings that we all tend to burden ourselves with, we won’t be able to learn how to become strong mentally and heal the injuries of the past.

As emotionally dependent behaviors are developed over time, it won’t be possible to improve yourself overnight. Although you must take steps to address those issues and be strong, it is also important to have patience and compassion for yourself or your partner.

Speak to a mental health counsellor who can guide you on how you can embrace yourself, and resolve issues arising from emotional dependence.

Get help with overcoming emotional dependence, call us @+91 97414 76476


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