8 subtle signs you’re emotionally dependent on your partner, according to psychology

There is a fine line between a deeply connected relationship and one bordering on emotional dependency.

Differentiating between them can be difficult, as emotional dependency is not a conscious choice, it’s something that can creep up on you before you even realize it’s happening.

But according to psychology, there are some subtle signs that may indicate if you’re emotionally depending on your partner more than is healthy.

This is not intended to make you feel bad or guilty about your relationship. In fact, becoming aware of these signs can be the first step towards building a healthier and more balanced bond.

So, let’s take a closer look at these 8 subtle signs that you might be emotionally dependent on your partner.

1) You feel incomplete without your partner

Being in a relationship should feel like you’re part of a team. But when it starts to feel like you can’t function without your other half, it might be a sign of emotional dependency.

According to psychology, feeling incomplete without your partner can be a sign of an unhealthy emotional attachment.

If this is the case, you might feel unable to make decisions, enjoy life, or feel good about yourself without their input or presence.

This is not to say that it’s wrong to miss your partner or enjoy their company.

However, if you find yourself unable to carry out daily activities or make decisions without them, then you might be emotionally dependent.

2) Your happiness hinges on their mood

It’s natural to feel empathy for your partner and be affected by their moods. However, when your own emotional state is entirely tied to theirs, it may be a telltale sign of emotional dependency.

For instance, if they’re having a bad day and you find your own mood plummeting as a result, even when your day was going perfectly fine, you might be mirroring their emotions more than is healthy.

This doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to care about your partner’s feelings.

What it does suggest is that you might be losing touch with your own feelings and needs, and instead are too focused on theirs.

Remember, in a balanced relationship, it’s important to maintain your individuality and emotional independence while still caring for each other.

3) You have a fear of disagreeing with them

Disagreements and arguments are a normal part of any relationship.

However, if you find yourself holding back from expressing your true feelings or opinions because you fear it might upset your partner or cause conflict, this could be a sign of emotional dependency.

The act of suppressing your own thoughts and feelings to keep the peace is known as self-silencing. Research has linked self-silencing to lower relationship satisfaction and even adverse health outcomes.

Maintaining open and honest communication is key in a healthy relationship. It’s important to feel safe and understood when expressing your thoughts, even if they differ from your partner’s.

4) Your self-esteem is tied to your relationship

Your worth is not determined by the status of your relationship. Yet, if you notice that your self-esteem fluctuates based on how things are going with your partner, it might be a sign you’re emotionally dependent.

You might find yourself feeling great when things are good between you two, but feeling down or even worthless when there’s tension or conflict. It’s like riding an emotional roller coaster that’s entirely fueled by the ups and downs of your relationship.

This can be tough to face, but remember, you’re more than just one part of a couple. Your value comes from within and is not dependent on anyone else.

It’s okay to lean on others and seek validation sometimes, but it’s also crucial to cultivate self-love and recognize your own worth independently of your relationship.

5) You struggle with alone time

We all enjoy spending time with our partners, but it’s equally important to enjoy our own company, too.

If you find yourself feeling anxious or lost when your partner isn’t around, this could be an indicator of emotional dependency.

Perhaps you find it hard to fill your time when they’re not there, or you constantly find yourself reaching for your phone to check in with them, even when you know they’re busy. It’s as if a part of you is missing when they’re not around.

It’s completely normal to miss your partner, but it’s also important to have interests and hobbies that you enjoy on your own.

This helps maintain a sense of individuality and personal fulfillment outside of your relationship.

6) You make sacrifices without considering your own needs

Compromise is a key component of any successful relationship. However, if you find you’re constantly putting your partner’s needs and desires before your own, it might be a sign of emotional dependency.

For instance, a friend of mine loved painting and had an art class every Wednesday night.

But when her partner mentioned that he felt lonely on Wednesday nights, she immediately quit the class to spend time with him.

She didn’t consider whether she wanted to continue the class, or try to find a balance that would allow her to pursue her passion and still spend time with her partner.

In a healthy relationship, it’s important to balance the needs of both partners.

Constantly prioritizing your partner’s needs over your own can lead to resentment and loss of self-identity over time. It’s okay to say no sometimes, and ensure your needs are being met too.

7) You constantly seek their approval

Who doesn’t like to be praised or appreciated by their partner?

While appreciation is always nice, if you find yourself constantly seeking their validation or approval for every little thing, it’s time to take a step back and reflect.

Whether it’s about your outfit, your work, or even trivial decisions like what movie to watch, if you can’t make a decision without their go-ahead, you might be emotionally dependent.

You’re an adult. You have the power and the ability to make choices for yourself. Your decisions are valid and valuable, regardless of whether your partner approves of them or not.

Trusting in your own judgment is a vital part of maintaining emotional independence in a relationship.

8) Your world revolves around your partner

Lastly, but most importantly, if your partner is the sun of your universe and everything else is just revolving around them, it’s a strong sign of emotional dependency.

Life is a beautiful journey full of various elements – family, friends, career, hobbies and yes, love too. But when love starts to overshadow all other aspects of your life, it’s time to reassess.

Your partner is an important part of your life, but not your entire life.

Make sure you are investing time and energy in other areas too, as these are all integral parts of who you are.

  • Nurture relationships with family and friends
  • Pursue your passions
  • Work towards your career goals

Maintaining a sense of individuality while being in a relationship is not just crucial for your mental well-being, but also for the health of the relationship itself. 

Final thoughts

Recognizing these signs of emotional dependency is not about self-blame or criticism. It’s about understanding and acknowledging your feelings, and knowing that it’s perfectly okay to seek changes for a healthier relationship.

If you notice some of these signs of emotional dependency present in your relationship, spend energy nurturing your individuality and personal growth, alongside sharing a wonderful bond with your partner.

Becoming more emotionally independent doesn’t mean you care any less about your partner. It means you’re able to love and respect them while also loving and respecting yourself.

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