What is emotional dependency?


The emotional dependence is a psychological state that occurs in relationships that an individual has with the people who surround n. Usually, this condition is associated with the partner, the family environment or the social environment of the individual. Emotional dependence is not generally related to a single factor but appears in the light of different factors related to internal conflicts of the individual. Behind the emotional dependence, there is a low self-esteem and a lack of awareness regarding one’s own abilities . The person feels inferior or less competent than others to achieve the life they want.


What is emotional dependency?

It is a psychological state that becomes pathological when the person feels that he cannot live without a relationship as a couple, family or social . The emotional dependent seeks to please and be loved at any cost since he needs the recognition, love, approval of the other to feel that his life has meaning.



In principle, emotional dependence is a personality disorder characterized by pathological love for another person . It is important to note that emotional dependence can manifest itself in a love, friendship or family relationship.


Characteristics of the person with emotional dependence

  • Excessive jealousy: the dependent person believes that he does not deserve the love of his partner. So when the latter comes into contact with the outside, the dependent will feel in danger because he runs the risk of being abandoned or deceived.
  • Need to please: the affective dependent does everything possible to attract attention to him and will give a lot of himself in each relationship since that allows him to feel alive.
  • Denial of own identity: the person with emotional dependence is capable of changing characteristics of his personality and making sacrifices to obtain the love of the other.
  • Need for signs of affection: the person with emotional dependence constantly needs proofs of love due to their emotional deficiencies that make them always feel dissatisfied.
  • Search for recognition: the emotional dependent needs to be recognized in order to feel that they exist. When this recognition does not come, the person feels frustration and anger.

Types of emotional dependence

Emotional dependence on the family

It is one of the most difficult forms of emotional dependency to resolve. It is usually associated with family structures with parents who suffer from strong states of anxiety that they transmit to their children . In this way, children are brought up feeling excessive fear of the outside world and perceiving it as a threat. The family bosom thus becomes a refuge.

Emotional dependence on the partner

In general , this type of dependency manifests itself in people with many insecurities even though some of them are aware of their capabilities. In this sense, the individual needs support to live and thus materializes that support in his partner . With this behavior, a very strong bond is built towards the partner as if it were a protective shield against pain and fear.

Emotional dependence on the social environment

This type of emotional dependence is characterized by the excessive need for recognition and approval of any environment . If the environment does not send signals of appreciation and acceptance, the individual panics. In doing so, he will do whatever it takes to obtain this apparent psychological compensation. Those who suffer from this condition believe that feeling rejection of their environment is the worst thing that can happen to them.

An individual who is emotionally dependent on his environment may become subservient or invisible as long as he has the approval of others . The person feels obliged to please others and ends up forgetting himself. Sometimes, the person is capable of making any sacrifice in order not to have to confront the rejection of others or may even renounce their convictions so as not to enter into tension with their environment.


Emotional dependence is a condition that can originate during childhood or adolescence . Precisely, at those ages, affective needs are important and there may be family, parental and psychological factors that affect the appearance of emotional dependence in adulthood.

The individual thus grows with a lack of self-esteem that is manifested by a negative opinion or image of himself . The emotional dependent rarely lives in healthy love, family, or social relationships . He always repeats the same pattern: repeating an unsatisfied relationship from his childhood trying to have his needs recognized or met. In that sense, she ends up living painful relationships and although they make her feel suffering and frustration, she has difficulty disengaging emotionally.


  • Appearance of psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression .
  • Failure in the workplace.
  • In cases of male emotional dependence, episodes of harassment, domestic violence and even murder may occur .
  • Vacuum sensation.
  • Disinterest in life.


  • Difficulty making decisions without the advice or validation of a third party . Insecurity makes the individual doubt, misrepresent.
  • Difficulty assuming your responsibilities. The individual tends to blame others because of their fears.
  • Fear of conflict , exclusion or rejection, which leads to avoiding any disagreement with others. The person does not have the courage to defend their opinions and convictions. Thus, in order not to lose the affection or approval of others, the person thinks like them and finally, does not have their own opinions or personal certainties.
  • Difficulty starting projects or doing things yourself.
  • Desire to satisfy the demands and needs of others.
  • Need for approval or recognition of others.
  • Inability to set and defend their own limits.
  • Forgetting one’s needs and values.
  • Constant preoccupation with the look and reaction of others, in the face of what one is or what one does. Thus, the person will tend to project a beautiful image of himself that leaves it well in front of the eyes of others.
  • Lack of confidence and inferiority complex that influence the person’s thinking and judgment.
  • Fear of loneliness since that implies being with oneself and deprives the individual of the support of others.
  • In the case of dependence on the partner, inability to end a relationship, even when it causes suffering or is violent.

How to overcome emotional dependence?

  • Make a list of everything that has been accomplished in life without the help of others . Include even the little things.
  • Take initiatives without seeking advice or validation from others.
  • Not showing affection in order to receive affection in return. Waiting for genuine affection for others to show it.
  • Dedicate entire days to activities that provide satisfaction and passion for life.
  • Take the time to congratulate yourself and savor both the small and the big victories around your dependency. You could have a journal in which your progress is recorded.
  • Do not show false kindness .
  • Learn to be happy alone.

Books on emotional independence

  • Love or depend? by Walter Riso . This book offers emotional dependents a series of guidelines that will help them overcome this condition and have healthy relationships.
  • The five levels of attachment of Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. In this work, the author shows how a person behaves as an emotional dependent and proposes strategies to help the reader overcome this condition that not only occurs in the plane of love as a couple , but also in other situations.
  • Overcoming emotional dependence: How to prevent love from becoming an ordeal by Jorge Castelló Blasco. This author, a specialist in personality disorders, presents a book that helps the reader to recognize if he is an emotional dependent and how to overcome a breakdown when a dependency relationship ends. In summary, this book provides the reader with some ideas on how to have healthy relationships.
  • The Warrior’s Path: Walking towards Emotional Freedom by Fabián Morales. This book offers strategies to be able to leave self-destructive relationships with a stronger state of consciousness that allows the person to be in control of their life and achieve emotional independence.

Phrases about emotional dependence

  • “I don’t need you, I prefer you.” (Walter Riso)
  • “ I love you because I want to love you, because I have chosen you and I like to be by your side; not because you are indispensable to my happiness . ” (Walter Riso).
  • “If we do not learn to let go, if we do not let go, if the attachment is stronger than us and we stay there tied, stuck to those dreams, fantasies and illusions, the pain will grow without stopping and our sadness will be the companion on the road. Jorge Bucay
  • “The origin of suffering is attachment, which creates the illusion of the ego.”

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