Emotional dependence in the relationship

From the moment we are born, we are all dependent. In our mother’s belly, when we need to feed, when we learn to walk for the first time and fall, in our first experiences into the world we live in, etc. In sum, we need constant support at some capacity. We all need people since we are social and emotional beings. 

We refer to emotional dependence when there is a high level of dependence or submission to another person in order to feel better about oneself.

In other words, the responsibility for one’s emotional state is transferred to another individual. Emotional dependence is a psychological state that causes discomfort and anguish in people. 

If we talk about relationships, what happens when one of the members of a couple depends emotionally on the other? How can emotional dependence be identified?

As mentioned above, having some dependence on your partner is normal. The problem begins when this emotional dependence is excessive and, therefore, stops being healthy, not only for the dependent person but for his or her partner as well.

 Behind every emotional dependence, there is great fear.


People who are excessively dependent often carry many insecurities. When they cannot feel secure enough in a relationship, questions associated with the fear of being rejected, abandoned or replaced start to arise. The longer they have to rely on their safety to feel valued, the more they depend on the other person. As a consequence, a strong attachment is generated and the person ends up needing the support of his or her partner in order to live well. This becomes a kind of “protective shield” against fear or suffering.


There is an acquired belief, albeit erroneous, that the partner provides the whole meaning to their life and places the other person at the center of everything. Usually, the emotionally dependent person is so afraid of not having a partner that it can cause behaviours that generate significant damage, such as manipulation to avoid abandonment, excessive jealousy, victimisation or even submission.

This type of dependency ends up leads to suffering in the relationship rather than providing strength eventually causing a deterioration.

People with low self-esteem tend to be emotionally dependent.

This is because the person usually thinks that they have low value and finds it very difficult to live their life without the other person. These wrong beliefs can lead to fear or anxiety, and as with all unjustified fears, the best way to overcome it is to face it.

It is important to learn to detect what emotional dependence really is. Ideally, you can go to a mental health professional to help you overcome this pathology that is affecting you. Confidence in one is not built overnight, but trying to overcome it and work on it will allow you to get rid of your suffering and help establish a healthy and authentic relationship with your partner.

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Constanza Canónica
Constanza Canónica

Nuna's psychologist. If you need advice to find a therapist, I can help you choose the most suitable one for you!

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