Skip to content

Emotional dependency: definition, symptoms and treatments


It is natural that there is some emotional dependence in our relationships, but when an individual is controlled by the need to need the other emotionally, we are facing a problem, and here the concept of emotional dependence arises.

What is emotional dependency?

Emotional dependence is a psychological condition that generates in subjects a pattern of general and excessive need , constant fear of loss, loneliness and abandonment.

This emotional dependence generally occurs within family and friends, but especially in love relationships. Some people still don’t understand the basis of love; love is not having control or compassion, much less subjection ; love is based on mutual respect, loving yourself and the other in a healthy and constructive way. Emotional dependence in relationships comes from the internal emptiness that is created when the subject abandons himself, and then hopes that his partner will fill his emptiness and make him feel loved and safe.

Those who present emotional dependence generally present a submissive and dependent behavior towards the other person – usually partners or friends. This type of behavior can lead to many types of disorders, including panic attacks , anxiety disorders , emotional insecurity , depression, and dependency personality disorders .

Emotional dependence leads one person to submit to the other, not only when it provides affection and security, but even in cases where rejection and contempt become everyday.

There are people who use emotional dependence to satisfy their  needs for security and protection , others only do it out of obsession , to have possession of the other person.

Symptoms of emotional dependence

  • They have a tendency to idealize people and relationships.
  • They project onto them how they want them to be, rather than what they are like.
  • They have low self-esteem and little self-confidence.
  • They hold their partners responsible for their happiness, worth, and safety.
  • They are terrified at the idea of ​​losing that person who generates dependency and they think that they will not be able to live without it – fear of abandonment.
  • They show submission and excessive adherence.
  • They may have episodes of depression
  • They are anxious and fearful subjects.
  • They tend to have difficulty assuming responsibilities.
  • They feel jealous and possessive of their partner or the person who makes them dependent.
  • They usually let others take initiative and take responsibility in the main areas of their life.

Difference between infatuation and emotional dependence

Love is about giving and sharing without purpose to get something in return. When you love, the essential qualities of the person are valued, those qualities that do not disappear with time, not the superficial qualities of appearance, money and power, but qualities that are not seen with the naked eye; Those that are durable and do not change over the years, because it is the very essence. When you are in love you do not try to control or possess the other person, you only want the other to feel well and feel loved.

You may also be interested in:   What is there to observe when a child plays?

Sometimes emotional dependence can be confused with being in love, but you have to know how to differentiate them, since these two concepts are far from being the same. When a person is under the control of emotional dependence, he thinks that he cannot live without that person because he is in love, but in reality, he cannot detach from that person for fear of loneliness or abandonment.

How does falling in love occur?

When a person falls in love, the brain activates the release of a neurotransmitter responsible for generating pleasure – dopamine -. This neurotransmitter, also called “the happiness hormone” affects various parts of your body, such as the sweat glands and the senses. It also controls the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. When these centers are activated, they can affect a person’s mood, emotions, and physical state. The release of dopamine drives the feelings of excitement when you see or think of that person who has turned the world upside down.

Other neurotransmitters that are activated in the infatuation stage are norepinephrine and phenylethylamine. Norepinephrine is a stimulant that generates those recurring thoughts about the loved one and is responsible for sleep disorders that occur due to the infatuation stage , for example that you cannot sleep thinking about someone. Phenylethylamine is a neurotransmitter that produces positive and pleasant emotions, even sometimes these emotions can be so strong that they can make a person lose their appetite.

Treatments for emotional dependence

If you think you have fallen into a pattern of emotionally dependent relationships, you should take some time just to find yourself.

If you think that is not enough and you cannot detach yourself from that feeling of dependency and insecurity, you can consult with your trusted mental health professional.  Your psychotherapist will try to understand your history of relationships and bonds -mainly in early childhood-, will also guide you and help you understand the reason for your situation, help you improve your self-esteem , handle insecurity and fear of rejection, and advise you on how you can get “unscathed” from that upsetting situation.


Website | + posts

Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *