You have probably already been completely in love with someone, so much so that this person becomes your priority and you lose yourself in the relationship. In fact, you can’t live without your other half, and live only for them. Some would call this passionate love, but the term emotional dependence is more appropriate.

What is emotional dependence?

When you are emotionally dependent on another person, it is impossible to live without them. It can be defined as the impossibility to feel existing and to be happy without the other. Its effect can be such that we lose our identity, especially when it is not totally defined. Our development and fulfillment is hindered by this form of addiction.
Indeed, addiction is a toxic form of affection. The other represents a vital resource, it is at the heart of our existence. It becomes essential to sustain life within oneself and for one’s own survival (Berger, 2016).

This pathological system can be guided by a lack of recognition and affection, but also by a lack of self-confidence. One seeks some form of support because one feels emotionally insecure. Consequently, this dependence appears to fill a great identity fragility (Roubeix, 2008).

Why is this a danger?

Emotional dependence leads to strong emotional distress. It is a vicious system, we only realize it when the relationship is no longer healthy. The break-up can then be destructive and brutal (Gellman, 2001). This separation causes the feeling of losing a part of ourselves. We lose a pillar, the basis of our happiness. We are no longer a full-fledged being but deprived of his addiction, of his drug. It is then that we realize our emotional dependence.

Do you know your desires, your passions, your needs, your identity? Were you fulfilled in your life before being in a couple?
It is important to know that the couple can be one of the pillars of your happiness, but not the only one. Indeed, if your happiness depends entirely on your love relationship, you can develop an emotional dependence. It is necessary to be independent and to love your life in the absence of the other. Do not base your happiness on your relationship.

The love of another person will never compensate for the lack of love you have for yourself. A love relationship is not meant to fill a void. Furthermore, investing yourself fully in a relationship is not a solution to your problems (Versaevel, 2019).
To avoid this outcome, it is important to learn how to be fulfilled alone. Enjoy time with your family and friends as much as you enjoy time with your partner.

How to avoid falling into emotional dependence or finally get out of it?

Preventing the appearance of emotional dependence is a work on oneself. A long and difficult work. It is easy to fall into emotional dependence, easier than to resist it. However, it is not systematic, see it as a danger that requires prevention. Knowing yourself so as not to lose yourself in the other is the key to a healthy relationship.
Here are several preventive recommendations.

  • Verbalize your needs, your desires, your wants to the other: Say what you want, what you want and need. For example, don’t hesitate to say that you need time alone, and to say it to yourself.
    This need for solitude is natural, it does not mean that you do not love your spouse. One might think that a distance is established when we are often each on our own. On the contrary, it is these moments for yourself that strengthen your relationship and reduce the distance (Séguin, 2019).
  • Listen to yourself, get to know yourself: This recommendation ties in with my previous advice. Run your life according to your needs and desires, not those of others. Talk about yourself, have new experiences to know yourself better.
    More concretely, you can write a diary, a kind of introspection to discover yourself. The diary is not reserved for children, it is also beneficial for adults. It allows you to put words to what you are going through and to free up your speech about what you are feeling (Versaevel, 2019).
  • Be assertive: Don’t be satisfied with what you are given, ask, demand, speak up. Once you know yourself better, demand the respect and consideration you deserve. This step will improve your self-esteem, it’s a virtuous circle.
    You can do mindfulness work, which allows you to analyze your own thoughts and emotions (Versaevel, 2019). To learn more about mindfulness, I invite you to go read Dina’s article here.
  • Identity: Your identity must remain unchanged in the presence of the other person. Accept your own needs, your vulnerability to better know yourself and better enjoy your company (Seguin, 2019).
    Indeed, it is with yourself that you will spend the most time in your life so learn to love yourself. It is essential to learn to take care of yourself before you take care of the other person. The way you see and represent yourself will inevitably change the way you act.

  • Sharing responsibilities: It is by developing your emotional maturity that you will realize the importance of this step. Everyone is responsible for their own well-being. On the other hand, you are together responsible for the well-being of your couple. The goal is to reach a balance (Séguin, 2019).


Create a world that you love and integrate your spouse into it (Séguin, 2019). This is a process of integration, not construction. Your world must be made up of distinct elements that form a coherent whole. The couple is one of those elements, but not the one and only. Having your own world outside the couple allows you to be independent.

Emotional dependence is not the only outcome of a happy and passionate relationship, there are many other ways to love. Choose the right one.

Bibliography:

  • Gellman, R. (2001). Les petits couples en 2001. Annales Médico-psychologiques, revue psychiatrique, Volume 159, pp. 722-725.
  • Roubeix, H. (2008). De la dépendance amoureuse à la liberté d’aimer. Eyrolles.
  • Séguin, L. (2019). Développer une façon plus saine d’être en relation avec moi-même, puis avec l’autre.
  • Berger, V. (2016). Les dépendances affectives. Eyrolles.
  • Versaevel, C. (2012). Personnalité dépendante et dépendance affectives : stratégies psychothérapeutiques. L’encéphale, Volume 38, pp. 170-178.