The 3 Pathological Patterns Of Emotional Dependence

Pathological patterns of emotional dependence

When we talk about emotional dependence We are referring to those people who show a lot of fear and anxiety at the idea of ​​being abandoned and who, due to that fear, tolerate and do anything as long as their partner or other people they care about do not leave them.

Such is this fear that the person who is willing to do or endure almost anything is considered dependent as long as the relationship they are having does not end. However, this is much more complex. Emotional dependence encompasses different types (submissive, avoidant and dominant), who at first glance do not even seem like dependent people but rather the opposite.

Let’s see how we bond in a healthy and unhealthy way and the consequences of the latter.

Pathological linkage vs. Healthy bonding

Human beings, inevitably, depend on each other; In fact, we are the most social species among all. In reality, we consider people who do not maintain ties with anyone to be strange or may even have serious personal problems.

Therefore, first we have to distinguish a healthy relationship from a pathological one You cannot be absolutely independent but neither can you be absolutely dependent on another person or people. Either extreme would be far from a healthy bond.

To bond and relate in a healthy way we use two psychological methods: regulation and security.

1. Regulation of the Ego

There are two ways to regulate it: with self-regulation and with co-regulation

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We use it when, faced with a situation that upsets us, we draw on our resources, hobbies, abilities, to return to a state of calm (example: going for a run, meditating, painting, reading, listening to music, relaxing breathing, etc.).


We use it when, in those adverse situations and to return to that state of calm, we pull someone we trust (example: talking to someone, calling a friend on the phone, going to your partner to tell them). It is common and normal that when we feel low in spirit we want to tell someone to vent.

2. Security

There are those who feel safer when they are alone or in company. We know people who do not feel safe when they feel alone, such as those who feel “empty” if they do not have a partner, while other people who fear relationships. Both one extreme and the other is an example of an unhealthy relationship, given that some They will not trust themselves to regulate themselves and the others will distrust others

3 ways to bond in an unhealthy way, generating dependency

Taking into account the above, we deduce that With self-regulation and a feeling of security in solitude, our relationships are more likely to be healthy, and vice versa: Depending on others to be comfortable with yourself or distrusting them will lead to toxic relationships.

After all, autonomy and intimacy are what allow us to have “horizontal relationships” with others: I make use of the rest but I also know how to regulate myself, that is, I don’t need anyone’s yes or yes to regulate myself, but I don’t stray away either. Managing them poorly can lead us to establish unhealthy bonds in different ways or patterns of behavior that occur in relationships with significant people. Let’s talk about them.

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1. Submissive pattern

It is the one that is most easily and quickly recognized as emotional dependence. The most frequent emotion of the submissive person is anxiety, precisely because of her fear of being abandoned. Their most frequent form of regulation is through others (that is, co-regulation), possessing very few capacities to self-regulate. They always need someone to deal with their problems.

In the background, they feel like they don’t deserve to be loved because they think they are worthless, which is why they try so hard to do whatever it takes so that the other person doesn’t abandon them. Precisely, they behave submissively because they are afraid of being stopped being loved. It is difficult for them to recognize their own needs because they are too aware of the needs of others.

They have a hard time saying no to others, tolerating criticism or receiving criticism from others. Therefore, frequently they feel that others don’t care about them enough that they do not reciprocate for all the efforts they make and they may even feel that they are “in the way.”

2. Dominant pattern

The emotion that predominates in a dominant person is fear, which they express through anger and anger. Their fear is precisely being dominated or rejected. They consider themselves bad people and, like the submissive, not worthy of being loved.

They are regulated through each other but in a very subtle way, exercising that role of control over the other person. However, many times they can come across as very independent (e.g., they threaten to leave the relationship), but it is nothing more than to hide a feeling of loss (e.g., they ask for forgiveness and beg when they are left).

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Dominant people can also be caregivers, but making the person they care for depend on them, creating that need in the other person or doing emotional blackmail. The difference with submissive caregivers is that they care to be loved while dominant caregivers They care as a way to subdue and take control

3. Avoidant pattern

Avoidant people withdraw, physically and emotionally, from the people around them.

The most common emotion in this case is sadness, which what it actually expresses is a great feeling of loneliness, and which they try to show as disinterest. In reality, they are not aware of this sadness, since they also distance themselves from their own emotions, ignoring them.

Furthermore, they are very distrustful of others; What they fear most is losing independence or freedom or being controlled if they become too emotionally involved with another person. Therefore, its form of regulation is self-regulation, by not paying attention to your emotions and sensations This can lead them to appear very undependent.

However, what actually happens is that they get very little involved in relationships with others (since we all need others to some extent). They tend to experience relationships as an obligation full of responsibilities, which is why they rarely commit themselves completely and it truly makes them uncomfortable in contact with others.