Dependency in a relationship can feel suffocating.
Sometimes we lose our sense of self in our partner. We can feel a love so deep, it can be as if we’ve become one with our partner and the universe. It’s a unique, fairy-tale experience, and it’s what psychologists call a collapse of the ego state.
The benefit is just that – we surrender our ego.
The repercussions of having low self-esteem make us fear the loss of our value, and we invest that in another person. Dependency in relationships starts to arise, and some will try and control the situation of their relationships through force or manipulation.
When we are alone, it’s easy to recognize our boundaries. What do you like? What don’t you like?
But love always complicates things, including our sense of self.
Numerous studies show that once we become attached to someone, 1 the two of us form one physiological unit. Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and even the levels of hormones in our blood. 2
We are no longer separate entities.
From a biological perspective, the emphasis on independence held by today’s approach to an adult relationship doesn’t hold water.
Dependency in Relationships is a Fact
It’s not a choice or a preference.
Our culture praises the myth that our happiness is something that should come from within and should not be dependent on your mate. That your well-being is not their responsibility and theirs is not yours. Each person must look after themselves.
Dependency in relationships is painted as something unhealthy, toxic, concerning.
When does dependency in relationships become too much?
Humans are relational creatures. Friends, families, and even strangers can affect our emotional state. It’s biologically impossible not to experience dependency in relationships.
Let’s pretend we are friends.
In this situation, you regulate my emotions just as much as I regulate yours. When we talk and laugh, I feel better. If we were to fight, we’d both be angered or frustrated with each other.
To say that we’re independent is a flaw of prehistoric science.
This science causes people to shame others for being needy, and this action further isolates them.
A person’s behavior does not evolve out of a vacuum.
Their behaviors, especially in a social and emotional context, are unconscious strategies that serve to get their needs met.
These behaviors exist for a reason. Until we can address the needs of others, humanity will continue to breed violence, drug addictions and unhealthy and destructive behavior.
Part of building healthy boundaries is to not take things personally.
We need to realize there’s a deeper reason behind the actions of others. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how someone else sees the world.
The true mark of maturity
The true mark of maturity is when someone hurts you, and instead of trying to hurt them back, you attempt to understand their situation.
Everything I say or do is because of my interpretation of the world, as well as my own life experiences. It’s the same for you. Most of these experiences are intertwined with the company of other humans, and those relations influence how you see yourself.
People who are overly codependent have a desperate need for love and affection from others. Dependency in relationships is a common pattern for them.
Typically it’s because they didn’t receive it in their childhood. They unconsciously believe that they need to play “the victim,” so that someone will come “save them.”
This is a result of self-sabotaging beliefs in one’s emotional blueprint.
On the other side of the coin are individuals who become “Mr. Save the Day.” They are addicted to the “fix-it” pattern. They unconsciously believe that fixing things is the way they will receive the love and appreciation they’ve always wanted.
Do you lack these critical skills?
The lack of identity and boundaries makes these two kinds of people unattractive to more secure individuals.
The Saviors and Fixers are emotionally pulled towards each other.
Typically, they’ve grown up with parents who exhibit one of these traits, and as a result their model of a “happy” relationship is based on neediness and poor boundaries. This couple often fails to completely meet the needs of the other, so this relationship often leads to increasing dramatic behavior and insecurity.
These two actually perpetuate their unconscious neediness and low self-esteem that prevents them from getting their emotional needs met. Their pathologies match perfectly.
The Victim and the Saver
The Victim creates more problems to fix, and the saver continues to fix them, but the love, connection and security they’ve always needed are never actually transmitted to each other. Ultimately, the Victim creates the problems to feel that love and attention.
The Saver doesn’t save the victim because they are too focused on the problem, in hopes that fixing the problem will provide them love. Despite the unconscious dilemmas, the intentions of both behaviors are needy, self-sabotaging, and both equally unattractive.
The Victim, instead of expecting to be saved, could say, “Hey, this is my problem, and you don’t have to fix it for me. I want to do this myself because I love you, and I know I play The Victim in order to feel love.”
That would actually SAVE the Saver.
If the Saver really wants to save the Victim, the saver would look them in the eye and say, “Look, you’re blaming others because you’re not getting your needs met. You need to become aware of what these needs are so you can start behaving in a healthier way and start to assert yourself. You are responsible for expressing your emotions. Not others.”
But such a scenario very rarely happens.
Maintaining meaningful connections
One reason for this is because most of us, especially men and those assigned male at birth, were never taught the skills to develop and maintain meaningful connections.
Male culture promotes the concept of being the winner at all costs, and a side effect of this culture creates people with plummeting self-esteem. They live in a society that neglects them and shames them for their basic biological needs.
Another reason for the lack of communication is because the Savers and Victims receive an emotional high from one another. It’s like an addiction. If either of the two types interact with an emotionally healthy person instead of each other, they usually feel a lack of chemistry.
They will unconsciously pass on healthy, secure individuals with emotional boundaries that will actually fill their needs.
Healthy boundaries simply don’t excite Victims and Savers like broken ones do.
The Attachment Theory
These Victims and Savers often push away the secure-attachment types.
According to Attachment Theory, Victims tend to be anxious-attachment types and Savers tend to be avoiding-attachment types. (Learn all about Attachment Theory in this post.)
Based on attachment theory, needy behavior makes you unattractive to most people and limits you to a similar level of neediness.
- If you are only attracting people with low self-esteem, then you are likely someone with low self-esteem.
- If you only attract high-maintenance people, then you are most likely a high-maintenance person yourself.
You Attract What You Are
If you don’t like what you attract, or you don’t like how your relationships behave, then you need to look into the mirror. Do some deep introspection and use this site so you can start dating individuals who will meet your needs and make you feel significant.
Extreme dependency in relationships doesn’t have to be your future.
Studies show that when you are in a secure relationship, you will become bolder, more innovative, and happier.
Isn’t that what you deserve?
- Roberts, J. E., Gotlib, I. H., & Kassel, J. D. (1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 70(2), 310-320 & Banks, A. (2011). The mythic reality of the autonomous individual.Zygon, 46(1), 168-182. ↩
- Book: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep -Love by Amir Levine (2012) ↩