Emotional dependence

Any advice on how to not be completely emotionally dependent on somebody? I’m going through a lot of life changes right now and am working on relying on myself for my own happiness instead of leaning on somebody else for support. It’s great to have someone there for you but if that support was to be withdrawn for any reason I would be devastated. I’m just trying to figure out a way to protect myself from more pain.

I’m not sure if this makes any sense. Thanks for reading. Advice? Words of wisdom? Knock knock jokes? All are welcome.

I’m glad you posted this; it resonates.

Are you looking for ways to rely on yourself more than on another person (in general), or just shift the focus away from one specific person? The OP could go either way, but I think the answers are kind of different. Not that I have any myself!

As someone who apparantly seems to act differently when on my own than when with someone, or even around other people, all I can offer is this: Try, as often as you can, to act the way you would if it was JUST YOU. It can be something as simple as doing something yourself rather than asking advice on it, or singing along to a song that you like. It’s hard to explain…I’ll be checking in this thread for more ideas myself. :wink:

I’m having the same problem as you, and the frustrating thing is that the people I wish to lean upon is in no state to offer the sympathy and empathy I need at the moment (it’s more of circumstances and personality)

Sounds to me like you no longer want to be co-dependant. There are lots of good books out there but better yet, there are support groups available. (Probably even online, but sharing with people is a richer, stronger experience, I think.) Even small towns have Al-Anon which is primarily for those affected by an alcoholic, but they don’t turn anybody away and are pretty much experts on the subject. Co-dependancy can be unlearned. I wish you the best.

I’m trying to shift the focus away from one person. I’ve gotten into the habit of depending on him for caring and support but the situation is challenging right now. I’ve lost my job, moved out of the house and am in transition right now. My biggest fear is losing him too. Just trying to protect myself, there’s only so much I can take.

That’s a really tough question - when you’re in a loving relationship, you should be at least somewhat emotionally dependent on each other, as well as emotionally intimate and caring and supportive, but how much is too much? I struggle with this, too - my natural state is very independent of everyone, but I think I’m too emotionally dependent on my husband since he is the only person I’m emotionally dependent on.

I’ll be reading the thread with interest, too, to see if anyone has any better ideas. :slight_smile:

Commitment? Marriage? :slight_smile:

I know the general advice on things like this is to keep busy, surround yourself with friends, develop and continue hobbies, etc. I exercise, eat well, stay in contact with friends via lunches, hanging out, phone calls, etc. My parents are wonderful and I’m lucky to have great siblings. With all of that this is still incredibly difficult, especially at night.

I’d like to learn to be less dependent. I just don’t know how to go about it. It’s like flexing a muscle that has been unused for a long time. I know it’s part of my personality. I also know that I need to relax and be patient.

My last day at work was last week and I just moved out too. I didn’t leave my job voluntarily, I was forced out. Marriage is crumbling.

Try this: Allow yourself the luxury of time. Take a moment to pause when you are experiencing something, pause and give yourself time to think it through on your own, through your own filter.

This will take some time if you’re deeply connected to the other person and used to processing things through their filters, but it’s worth the practice. “How do I feel about this, what actions would I choose if I was alone”.

Wait you are already married? Can you elaborate somewhat on what exactly is the situation here? Who is the person you are dependent on, and what is their relationship to you/how do they feel about you? What about your spouse?

You’ve had some great advise here, but I just want to offer a slightly different perspective.

You’ve had a hell of a stressful time lately, losing your job, moving out of your home. That takes a toll on a person.

During periods of stress, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to need to lean on someone. That’s not necessarily unhealthy.

My other concern is that you may be depressed, and it is manifesting itself in you starting to disassociate yourself from others.

I hope this post doesn’t cause offense in any way, obviously you know yourself best. I just wanted to offer a different view based on the few sentences you’ve posted here. :slight_smile:

ETA: Sorry, this is probably out of date. I started typing then someone came to my desk and I finished it 20 minutes later.

For starters, I think, give yourself a break: I bet the marriage crumbling and the job situation are not unrelated. In either case, both are tough enough on their own. Who wouldn’t be a bit more dependent in that situation?

Since you’ve moved out, maybe try taking a mental vacation? I don’t mean sex with someone else or anything, but just treating yourself to fun but simple things: food, music, the movies, whatever. Try stuff your spouse isn’t really into in the first place so you don’t have that pang of wanting to share.

Moved from MPSIMS to our advice forum, IMHO.

Depends on why you’re being dependent.

If you feel like you’re being too dependent because you need to run everything you do by someone else to get their opinion or find out how it affects them, then you’re having problems with owning your feelings. Doing things “for” someone else constantly makes them responsible for whether it’s good or bad, and removes the onus from you. Try pretending you’re the other person whose opinion you’re soliciting – imagine what you would say to someone else who came up to you asking what they should do. People like this tend to be much harder on themselves than they are on others. You might find it enlightening.

If you find yourself wanting to run to someone else when things get tough to the exclusion of everyone else, there are a few things you can try. If you’re doing it because you want comfort over something external (i.e., events that don’t concern the person you’re running to), then you can create a model of this other person in your head. Ask yourself, “What would he do/say if he were here?” This isn’t ideal as a long-term solution, as it’s still allowing you to get by without learning how to soothe yourself, but as a stopgap measure it may be what you need to get through until you have the time and space to work on yourself further.

If you keep running to this other person to hear that they love you and won’t leave you in lieu of discussing or getting comfort over the external bad things, then what you need to do is develop what’s called object constancy. At its root, object constancy is the belief that things remain the same whether you’re looking at them or not. Toddlers develop this about the concrete world when they work out that a ball rolling behind an obstacle isn’t gone, but will eventually roll out the other side. When it refers to people, it means coaching yourself to believe that your relationship will not suddenly mutate into something completely different just because you’re not together and can’t ask him about it all the time. There’s nothing much you can do about this other than recall what he said and did the last time you were together, and how it made you feel, and tell yourself very firmly that you are GOING to believe this state of being remains true UNLESS you get explicit notice that things have changed.

Finally, if you feel like you’re being too dependent specifically because you keep running to the same person and are afraid it’s too big a burden for them to bear, then you can consciously select someone else trustworthy to lean on, and force yourself to sit down and tell them everything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a friend or family member – if you would prefer to tell someone who is in no way involved in anything that’s happening right now, you can get a therapist, call a counseling helpline or visit a chatroom, or if you’re religious you can ask to talk to your local rabbi/clergyman/high voodoo priest/whatever. This is particularly helpful if you judge how badly off you are largely by how much other people wince when you talk to them.

I wish everyone who’s struggling with this the best of luck dealing with it. I’ve been working on similar issues for most of my life, and I still sit in the corner and have vicious arguments with myself over it sometimes. It’s not fun and it certainly doesn’t help when you feel like not only are things going wrong, but you’re dealing with it wrong somehow, and you don’t know any other way.

Thanks Arabella, that’s what I was looking for.

I was reluctant to post too much because I’m hoping that people won’t judge. This is difficult enough as it is. I’ve been married for well over 20 years and just separated. I met somebody else at work and had an emotional affair. My husband was very remote and emotionally inaccessible, the work friend was the polar opposite and everything I had been looking for.

My husband and I tried marriage counseling and other methods. I told the work guy to give me space several times; in the end I was always the one to reach out to him. I became very emotionally dependent on him. Any problems I had he was always there for me, 24/7.

Meanwhile I lost my focus at work and eventually my job. This whole thing has been like a bomb going off in my life.

I moved out of the house last week. Now work friend’s schedule has increased to 12 hours a day and he is exhausted. We live 40 minutes away now vs. less than 10 minutes. The amount of time we communicate has been drastically reduced. Since I was so used to relying on him to be there for me and that’s not the case right now, I’m feeling, well, traumatized. I’m depressed and anxious and worried.

I’m worried that now that I’ve moved out, work friend is going to change his mind.

No judging here - what has happened has happened, and now you need to sort yourself out.

When you say you’re worried that your friend is going to change his mind, do you mean that you have discussed starting a more formal relationship together?

The reason I am concerned is that I have come across several men in my lifetime who like to play the ‘knight’ role, rescuing damels in distress, but when it comes to making a commitment, they baulk. I’ve seen good people get hurt as a result.

This is going to sound really dull and predictable, but what you need to be focusing on right now is you. You don’t need another person to get you through this, you need to find the strength from within to deal with what has happened and to carve out a positive future for yourself. You say you’ve been in marriage counselling, would you consider getting counselling for yourself?

Based on the experiences of others and some of my own experiences, I think this is very, very, very likely to occur. Not because of new work schedules, but because the VAST majority of people who get involved with people in troubled relationships, are very interested in the rush of feeling like a hero, and very much NOT interested in the day to day bullshit of a relationship. Instead of trying to convince yourself that what you fear won’t happen, I would move forward assuming it will.

If he broke up with you tomorrow and got a no-contact restraining order, what would you do to self-support and get by? Therapy? Spend more time with family? Take a class you were always interested in? Travel? Start valuing yourself, without measuring yourself in relation to what someone else thinks of you? Whatever those things would be, start doing those things now.

Augh, of course you feel dependent! Losing job and a marriage at the same time? You also probably have a lot of free, alone time, these days, to obsess about shit.

The first advice I would give is to just establish yourself as a non-married entity. Wherever you’re living, make it your own. Assume you’re going to be on your own for a while. Buy some plants and hang some curtains. Put up some pictures. Make it beautiful. It’s hard to know how to be alone again after being with someone for a long time.

Secondly, make sure you fill your days/evenings with stuff you want to do. Books, friends, wine and movies, whatever. When I was unemployed, I went running every day, and it really added traction to my routine.

Thirdly, you’re now separated, and this work guy hasn’t committed to you yet. You should tell yourself he’s ONE DATING OPTION and put yourself out there. Put up an online personal ad. Browse men’s personal ads. Get your female friends to doll up and go out with you for cocktails. If you can afford it, buy some new “date” clothing. Nothing will get you over an emotional attachment better than getting a glimpse of what else is out there.

Also, make a private list of work-guy’s “pros” and “cons”. Is he too wishy-washy? Too practical? Too old? Too young? Look at him as a realistic potential partner, and not just a convenient emotional attachment while your marriage is fading. Would things REALLY be ideal if you dated him?

Make another list of the things you love and value most about yourself. Keep it in a convenient spot and remind yourself of it daily.

No problem. Some weeks I just wander around being the Epiphany Fairy. I’m glad I could help. :slight_smile:

I agree with everyone else who says to establish yourself as a single lady and try to look at your options before collapsing. The thing is, you started this emotional affair when you were in one situation – ending a marriage you weren’t happy in, to a man who wasn’t giving you what you needed – and now you’re in quite another. The work-friend might have been right for you then, but might not be right for you anymore.

Don’t beat yourself up over what has happened, but remember that life is just a never-ending series of ‘things happening’, and other things you can’t anticipate right now are indubitably going to happen in the future. You’ll get a new job, you’ll meet new people, life will continue.

I find that whenever I’m worrying too much over things that I literally can do absolutely nothing about, it helps me to pick a random topic and research the hell out of it. If you ever wanted to learn left-handed underwater basket-weaving, now is your chance. It provides my overwrought brain with a new screen saver to run whenever I have too much time on my hands. Plus libraries are nice quiet, low-key places to spend time when you can’t stand staring at the walls of your own apartment anymore.