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Defining Emotional Dependency and the Top Five Ways to Become More Emotionally Independent

By HERWriter
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Ways to become more emotionally dependent

Love can be exhilarating, especially at the very beginning of a relationship. Everything you experience with your partner feels so new and overall amazing, and you think how nothing can go wrong.

Well some things can go wrong, including complete emotional dependency on your significant other.

Defining dependency

Emotional dependency is when a woman allows others (like a significant other) to affect her feelings and emotions, and depends on them for happiness, etc. This is giving complete control to others over a woman’s own emotions. This is unhealthy and can negatively impact self-esteem, since self-esteem is dependent on others. This is different from having a balanced relationship, where two people have interdependence and allow other to affect them only slightly emotionally. According to one relationship site, it is impossible to love others and not give them some control, but there needs to be a balance. Complete independence does not allow people to form connections with others.

Mental Health America, a nonprofit association, defines co-dependency as “an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.”

Co-dependency as a broad definition is “dependence on the needs of or control by another,” according to Merriam-Webster. However, in the psychological sense, it is “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition.”

One study stated that “seven million American women are depressed, and 40 million Americans, primarily women, have been labeled as codependent.”

Emotional dependency can also be found in people with dependent personality disorder, “a long-term (chronic) condition in which people depend too much on others to meet their emotional and physical needs,” according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health.

Understanding dependency

Mary Lamia, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in California, said in an e-mail that she has dealt with women who are dependent in relationships.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

“Emotional dependency is when a woman allows others to affect their feelings”
Is this even serious?
When was this written? Last century or what?

June 13, 2019 - 3:50am
EmpowHER Guest

Anonymous please. This definitely applies to men as well. My spouse and I are going through this exact thing, from both sides of our relationship. We have been married 34 years this month, and this has been an issue for a long time. I am the "man" in this relationship speaking, and recognizing this in myself.

February 19, 2019 - 12:43pm
EmpowHER Guest

Agreeing with the previous comments, my personal experience has been that both men and women have this behaviour.
"40 million Americans, primarily women, have been labelled as codependent"
for women to be co-dependent unless the relationship is with another woman there is also a man involved in this interaction. While taking the emotional temperature of the room and adjusting actions accordingly is taught traditionally as part of the women role in a household as the emotional caretakers of a household with the dynamics of families today often young men take on this role as well.

so putting this as a women's issue doesn't seem to do it justice, perhaps women talk about it more because it's more socially acceptable to do so, but I feel like we need to make room and relinquish the stoic crap that society including women push onto men, and allow men to own their emotional vulnerability for they can do the emotional work to move forward.
Which in turn by releasing them from their side of the dynamic will allow women to move forward as well without feeling the need to do the emotional work for both people.

October 12, 2017 - 7:06pm
EmpowHER Guest

Do men not experience this as well? It's important to mention how this is not specifically unique to women.

February 22, 2016 - 6:11pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I'm sure some men struggle with this as well, but this article was intended for women. Men are free to peruse the article if they feel that it speaks to their experience as well, but I don't think it's reasonable to demand the author to cater to you.

May 9, 2016 - 1:15pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.