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Advice:
Strategies in dealing with emotional dependency.
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Hi!

My name is Pedro and I am 32 years old. I am currently a university teacher while i try to finish my PhD.

There are many reasons I believe led me to be emotional dependent. Abstracting from those, the fact is that I am. I love teaching but I am on a career track that values research output the most and I have yet to find my job rewarding.

I have been away from my country/family for 8 years. I do see/call them regularly but my family dynamics have always been very harsh on me and sometimes i get the feeling that moving abroad was an unconscious reaction to all the stress my family puts upon me.

I had three long-term relationships (6 years, 4 years, 1 year and 2 months). The last relationship has not ended yet but we are experiencing some problems and that was the reason that lead me to my search for answers with respect to behavioral issues within my self that lead to break ups.

For reasons that may have to do with my childhood/job/etc, the fact is that i feel the constant need for confirmation and affection. I go to great lengths to prove my love and loyalty to my partner and i guess i end up not leaving any space for her to miss me. I am now aware that the biggest reason i give so much love and affection is because i seek it myself. I crave for unconditional love and acceptance and these expectations are never fulfilled which leads me to the basic reaction of increasing my displays of affection (hugs,kisses, cooking and cleaning all the time, paying for most of the things, offers of support in all issues etc..).

The lack of confirmation or withdrawal of affection from my girlfriend, creates in me a state of strong anxiety, loneliness, desperation and depression. I get also angry at myself by realizing that the thing i want the most i.e. for our relationship to evolve into a family, is also being prevented by my lack of control.

I find myself in the sofa at her place, refraining my self from displaying affection, thinking "this is too much, stop it! give her space to miss you!". It is a constant struggle and i can tell you that it has been very hard to be me.. Receiving affection or confirmations of love from her feels like taking drugs (never did, but making an analogy with how a pill sometimes cures a headache), i may be very anxious and with anguish, but the second she hugs me and says she loves me its like magic. All my fears, stresses, anxieties and anguish disappear and i feel like in a state of total bliss.

My girlfriend says she loves me but she doesnt know if to love is enough, as she has doubts about us and a future together.

I want to overcome this. I want to break up the pattern of falling in love, creating strong bonds with someone, plan a future together and then see my dreams shattered. I want to stop constantly feeling a victim in my relationships. I want to stop being so emotionally dependent and by doing so destroying all my relationships. I believe that my previous relationships could have worked out if i had been stronger and more independent emotionally and i want to save my current relationship.

Right now i seek advice on the issues i raise above. I would like to know strategies in order to live a healthy, balanced relationship. I would like to learn strategies in order to improve my relationship that has been affected by these problems. I would like to know strategies that lead me to become more emotionally independent from my partner.

Even though i would be mostly interested in what i said above, any feedback and/or comments is warmly welcome. If you think that what i described also applies to you, at the very least know that you are not alone :)
Posted on 08/29/11, 06:16 am
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Advice:
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Reply #1 - 08/29/11  11:38am
" Hello. Welcome. It helps me to know I can't control anyone but my thoughts. It seems you are talking about how to get boundaries. Boundaries have to do with love of self. To keep ourselves safe is most important emotionally. By setting limits with people we begin to find out who we are, what we like and don't like. Love of self is unconditional. I went through therapy and came to the conclusion that I needed to become my own nurturing parent since I never had one. So I changed the way I talked to myself. The body believes what it hears. As a child I heard negativity. So, I had to force myself to say positive affirmations that I did not believe at first. It was necessary to change the statements I had heard in childhood. When we love ourselves, and have no expectations of others, life for me is so much easier.

Taking one day at a time and doing what's in front of me keeps me stable. It takes two people to make a relationship work and I don't think it is fair for you to take the blame. Often, we pick people that have similar characteristics to one of our parents. I did this for years until it became obvious they were using me and were not really friends. It took me a long time to recover from codependency and it's different for each person. "
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Reply #2 - 08/30/11  5:44am
" Thanks for your comment mirto. I agree when you say that boundaries have to do with love of self.

In another websites i found something about emotional dependency to which i could immediately relate: i cannot be alone with myself i.e. i need constantly to do something that keeps me from thinking about me or my life. I watch tv, i do sports, i meet my gf, i work, i read magazines, but even a 20m ride on the subway, without some distraction is torture.

Self esteem issues seem to be at the core of this emotional dependency behavior. Loving me self seems to be a daunting task i now realize. It seems that a lot could come from there. I appreciate your advice about positive reinforcement and will try to follow it.

With respect to how things have been developing, i tried to start giving her space to miss me. I tried letting her be the one that comes t me for affection and take initiative. I'm not being a jerk or playing games. Whenever she comes to me I give affecton back. When she says she loves me, I say it back. But I let her have the initiative of telling me that she loves me first. I don't rush to pay everything. I refrain from sending her messages so often in Skype or from making sure i talk to her every single night before going to bed. I stopped staying at home watching movies or playing video games and started to go out as much as i can. Meet new people, develop my network of friends and so forth.

I have to say that these little things seem to be doing wonders. I feel we are connecting again and that we are getting closer. Intimacy improved too. And i feel that my girlfriend is starting to respect me again. I hope that things keep improving.

I am very lucky that i had at least 2 extremely supportive friends who are being very supportive through this period. It is very important that if things keep going this way, that i don't revert to the dynamics that lead to this situation. That i don't feel comfortable with the love i perceive i am getting and start falling into dependency again.

But that is a good problem to deal with albeit a more difficult one. It means that i managed to stabilize my relationship and am now working to be able to be satisfied with a balanced and healthy relationship, without constant craving for unconditional love and acceptance. "
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Reply #3 - 08/30/11  4:53pm
" A faith in something spiritual, beyond this physical, material world, helps me! How's your faith in something not of this world?

You mentioned research as a way to find answers, and I applaud you for it. As you've seen, human relationships are not an exact science. You're doing the right thing by BEING that which you seek. Yes, sometimes, you do need to disconnect from her and allow her some breathing room to miss you. I've found that, as soon as I hold back, they miss me. That is, unfortunately, the fucked-up, reverse-psychology nature of human relationships.

Focusing on a deity or spirituality will give you that center, that focus, so that, in or out of a relationship, you'll have a bit more internal bliss and peace (!). "
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Reply #4 - 08/31/11  2:51pm
" Thanks Kool. Unfortunately, i am not a man of faith.. I really believe that having some form of spirituality could help me and make me feel more loved, cared and secured. But when it comes to beliefs, i just can't find it in my head/heart to choose what to believe :(

Yes, that reverse psychology dynamics is really annoying.. so much energy and love just wasted in mind games.. "
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Reply #5 - 09/08/11  9:18pm
" Hi Pedro,

I shared this with someone on another board, but I think it bears repeating. Love does not have to be only with your lover. You can share different kinds of love with many people. I find helping others in some way very uplifting. If you love children, perhaps some volunteer work there would be appropriate. I think the more love you spread around, the more it comes back to you and you will hopefully not feel so cheated out of love. Good luck. "

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