Ivana's Corner

Emotional Dependency – How Serious Can It Be?

Emotional dependency does not sound like something that can be dangerous?


Wrong. I will give you things to watch out for and reasons why you should.

It is possible to idealise, be in passionate relationship and in love, however, that relationship is not necessary healthy.

If relationship is not based on healthy love, understanding and mutual respect, it grows into pain and devastation.

People tend to break up these relationships, therefore suffer a lot and become depressive.

Most of the time they blame themselves or satanise their former partners. Above all it is mostly both these things.

However, some people go from unhealthy relationships into marriage, torturing both sides for the rest of their lives.

Addicted To Love

There are people who are addicted to love.

They desperately search for it, for someone to be next to them, fulfil them.

As this is their main life preoccupation, they hopelessly search for love. However, when they get it they fear of losing it.

In deep psychology, capability for emotional stability is called object constancy.

Object constancy is capability which could be called psyche stabilizer.

When we say that someone has developed object constancy, this person has stable connection to loved one.

This in fact becomes deep inner connection, independent from pleasure.

Simpler said, we can love someone even when they do not meet our needs and desires. We can carry them within ourselves.

When this happens we are independent from their physical presence.

However, people who have problems with object constancy will some desperate desire consider measure of true love.

This emotional dependency often makes us do destructive or auto-destructive things.

It is the common reason for adultery. Or to get ahead of the pain of abandonment or the reason is that we hate partner we are dependent on.

Emotional dependency is a source of desire to control your partner. In this way person also controls itself. However, the person is not aware of that.

Control manifests in different ways. Possessiveness, spying, forbidding partner to do what he or she likes. This is done to prevent anything that can harm relationship.

However, these things get into you and are hard to let go of.

It may be paradox, but, often it is easier to accept the loss of relationship which was good than to recover from unsatisfying one.

emotional dependency

Emotional Dependency – Where The Problem Starts?

Think of emotional dependency as undeveloped capability to process emotions, which we call object constancy.

Therefore the predisposition for future dependency is created very early in life, around or before we turn 3 years old.

To create our future emotional stability it is important to have early connection to mother.


Quality of this connection and physical and psychical availability of mother is important as first constant thing in our emotional development.

If this criteria is satisfied, 3 year old child gains capability to posses inner image of mother, to carry her in itself.

The child then becomes capable to be separated from mother for a certain time.

Child does not see this separation as abandonment, and does not overreact, as mother lives in the child through these inner images.

By practising short separation from mother, this child trains its emotional stability, independence if you like.

It does not feel alone, powerless, abandoned, because it has enough good mother in itself. This is the preparation for future stability.

This is how child starts to practice its capability to tolerate solitude and capability to have fun even when it is alone.

However, this is not something that develops and stays with the child forever.

This capability is put to test in different life phases and we observe it as a process, which started once but is maintained for the rest of our lives.

Keep in mind that even if emotional stability is established good in the early days, potential periods of crisis can shake it up.

But, person will recover quickly than the person who did not have established emotional stability as a child.

People who have problems with their object constancy show envy, stickiness, tendency to control others.

As they do not have developed object constancy they cannot carry the image of their loved one within themselves.

Far from sight far from heart is a saying that suits these people best.

Far From Sight

As we are talking about emotional dependency, we can imagine a person which is in passionate relationship ( I can’t live without you principle).

In addition partner leaves for lets say a business trip.

As this person is not capable to carry the partner within itself and keep emotional connection with him or her, the partner may seem like a stranger when it comes back.

The person would feel as those feelings it had were gone, in addition, it will take time to get used to partner again.

Partner physical presence is essential to maintain this relationship.

Person is dependent to partner physical presence because only in that case the needs for relationship can be pleased.

Emotional dependency manifests itself in this or in ways similar to this one.


If a mother is warm, constant, approves separation from child, supports normal development need for kids switch of interest from mother to world, does not control the child, mother herself can take separation easier and is not hurt by child’s growing need for independency.

If a mother is there to help the child to process its experiences, to understand them. To understand its emotions.

If this is the case, then the mother is good enough constant which gives a child possibility to grow into emotional stable person.

emotional dependency

Media’s Role

Do romantic stories affect our dependency?

Or do these creative expressions come from authors weak emotional stability?

It can be that artists only recognize these problems amongst people, and write, illustrate or sing about what is close and known to the world.

In this way author of art piece connects to his audience.

However, persons with undeveloped capability for emotional stability, can build fantasies encouraged by art pieces.

It can appear to them that what is happening is a common thing. That everyone goes through that.

That ideal connection to loved one can be possible(which in grown age is not).

And that one day there will come a time of pure connection to loved one, complete absence of pain and suffering. The they lived happily ever after.

Emotional Dependency And Relationships

Desperate need for partner is a measure of true love. This is what is true for people who are emotionally dependent.

For example.

Think of a girl who has problem called love dependency.

Out of fear of abandonment, girl began to check boyfriends mail, letters, facebook, text messages.

She did it hiding, knowing that the boyfriend would be mad and fearing that he might leave her if he finds out.

However, when the boyfriend found out she did not show that fear.

She used a defensive reaction a counter attack. Crying, anger, allegations that he is unfaithful, that she wouldn’t have done it if she had trust in him.

That he made her behave like that, that she did what she never does.

Therefore, basic mistrust in that the loved one will be with us, intolerance of solitude and possibility that loved one would leave us motivates person to control.

In addition this kind of person would do anything in their power to not suffer abandonment.

If we believe that we can’t live without our loved one(although that is highly doubtful) it is logical that we would do anything to keep them.

Not Recognizing There Is A Problem

People often do not recognize that they are in a unhealthy relationship.

Many, however, do recognize but do not want to admit it to themselves or to others.

If they would admit it, then, maybe, something would make them change, and most people have problems with change.

Philosophy behind this is: it is better to be in a bad relationship rather not to be in a relationship.

This is one of the first signs for alarm. Why would you accept relationship in which you do not enjoy?

We often say that good divorce is better than bad marriage.

However, this is not an option for people who do not feel whole without their partner.

Wholeness of object is capability which is developed earlier than constancy and means that we see everything around us as a whole. With virtues and flaws.

Object constancy is extension of wholeness and when we see it from development angle, comes a time to make borders between us and our partner.

Then the development of capability to put that partner within ourselves, to know where we end and where he begins.

This means that we are capable of love and passion without fear of losing ourselves in our partner or losing part of our personality if we lose partner.

Therefore, emotionally unstable person would rather stay in unsatisfying relationship than to leave that relationship.

This tells us that these persons have not developed capability to be alone. They lack stability of inner connection to loved other.


Normal grievance process after losing a loved object lasts around six weeks.

Emotionally unstable and dependent persons suffer for years, live in fantasy that the day will come when they are together with their lost partner.

In most cases they start blaming themselves for their loss. They start thinking about what they did wrong.

emotional dependency

By doing that they lose vision of the whole journey they had with their partner.

They forget or do not admit that their relationship had flaws and do not accept the loss.

Emotion that we feel in this time we call depression.

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Emotional stability is something that is built and maintained.

Therefore the enchanted circle of repetition can be broken.

Persons who are well organized see that they repeat same patterns in every significant relationship, they snap out of it and break the circle.

Friends and surroundings in which person is can be of great significance.

However, some people cannot overcome their addictive behaviour in relationships(even if they see patterns they repeat).

This is when psychotherapy is very good to break the circle.

In such situations therapist builds capability which client could not develop as a child.

To a certain point it is like growing up again or corrective emotional experience.

We can say that the client now internalises functions of emotions, something they could not do before.

Emotional Dependency – Men And Women

Although there are certain differences among the sexes, they cannot be generalized.

In dependent relationship both partners have emotional dependency.

Is one controlling and other clinging on, is of no matter.

Also, most often control and clinginess change, so partners have a feeling like they are on a see saw.

We can say that women, on average, build relationships which feel like see saw. Chaotic and dramatic relationships with place changing.

While men, on average, choose relationship where their freedom is allowed, but make partner cling and there is no freedom for her.

However, how we are raised is changing. Women are heard more and more, so more often we see them use this method of freedom also.

With higher activity of women more and more men feel threatened so they tend to go over more things.

Emotional Dependency Vs Healthy Relationship

In healthy relationship between two people there should be an optimal distance.

Unless there is none there comes to over relying on the other half.

Feeling of emotional dependency makes us unstable.

If we search for our own stability in relationship it is quite logical that the other half is needed to maintain our integrity.

In these cases we tend to strive to control, manipulation and force try to maintain our own continuity and personality.

emotional dependency

In healthy relationships partners tend to matter they are interested in. Have friends and do not lose contact to activities that used to fulfil them.

They go out together, and sometimes apart.

They are support for each other, although this does not mean they do everything interesting together.

There is a desire to be apart for a short period of time just be brought together again.

They have their shared world which is most important to them, but they keep in mind that there is a real world, which they are a part of.

When healthy relationship is broken, they grieve, but think about themselves and life. They do not see break up as end of the world.

Partners go through normal grievance process, but they do not fall into depressive state.

When there is healthy love, partners stay what they are, emotional stable and capable to connect and love, and not to lose themselves in relationship.

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