When so bad that it is good: why do we remain in dependent relationships


“I can’t live without you”, “I will die without you” – how many songs and poems with such meaning we know! Unfortunately, this meaning does not reflect romance, but love dependence – a painful and destructive phenomenon. Family psychologist Maria Gasparyan tells how to determine dependent relationships and stop entering them.

Imagine a family. Husband and wife, there are no children yet. He is extremely warning and caring, she is in this care, as it seems from the outside, she just swim. They live well – both make money, make repairs, often travel. In general, a beautiful happy family.

But what really? The wife is tired of marriage so much that I want to howl. And there is something to get tired of. The spouse gives her up control – constantly calls and asks where she and with whom, does not give a step without demand to step. Because of all this, it seems to her that she fell out of loving him. It is not the first time that he breaks through to leave, but he persuades to stay, and she agrees. They live calmly for a while, and then it all starts again. She does not leave not only because he persuades, she also believes that he simply cannot.

If his wife had no dependent “hooks” in this story, she could leave her wife, and no persuasion would work. To judge sensibly – both adults, why he cannot live without her? Even if so, why does the wife care about whether he can without her or not? The fact is that she herself is not able to leave this relationship, with something they keep her.

In dependent relations, both partners are dependent and cling to each other. Otherwise, these relations would disintegrate.

What can my spouse be kept? Perhaps the need to constantly save someone, especially close people. This is often the case with those good girls on whom parents in childhood had responsible for their mood and condition. “Do not make noise, mother is upset. Sit quietly, like a mouse, and don’t shine. Better to do something useful. If you do not, the mother will be even more upset ”. “Why turned on the TV? You don’t see, the father came from work tired?” ”Where are you going? If you want parents to bring to heart attack?”

From childhood, the girl assimilates that she needs to constantly “save” her parents, otherwise they will reject her or something will happen to them. This prospect of her, of course, is very scary. She will do everything so that mother and father are satisfied, will push her own feelings and needs. Automatically the woman transfers the same relationship scheme to her husband. If she does not constantly save him against her own desires, she will experience terrible fear, as in childhood.

There are a lot of dependent relations. As a rule, they are confused, they are not so easy to decompose in the scheme – who clings to whom with what. It’s easier to say with a metaphor: in these relations one partner is like a continuation of the second, his “hand” or “leg”. If the partners part, then both will become ”disabled”.

What are the signs of dependent relationships?

  • Partners shift to each other responsibility for themselves

For example, he drops the irritation on her, which was caused by someone else. Or she accuses him of something that he has nothing to do with: that the car has broken, the sun does not shine and so on. Often in such situations “buckets” for draining tension in the family are children.

  • The couple is not customary to sincerely express feelings

She is angry with a partner, but pretends that everything is in order. Why? It seems to her if she openly expresses discontent, the partner will leave. Such situations almost always give rise to passive aggression, because discontent does not go anywhere. For example, she “forgets” to wake a partner to work or answer his call, she just constantly walks with a dissatisfied face. Passive aggression – a clear marker of dependent relations.

  • There are no understandable boundaries in the relationship

For example, he decides what kind of hairstyle to her, how to dress and with whom to meet. She reads his mail or message on the phone. The personal space of partners ceases to be personal.

  • Partner as a drug

If he leaves even for a short while, she begins a psychological

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”breaking”. She is ready to be flexible and pleasing to the cloying of the man, to agree with a man in everything, just not to lose him. As if she has an endless black hole inside her, which will still not be filled. Only the presence of a partner nearby is illusory for a short time closes this hole. By the way, the basis of chemical and emotional dependencies are the same mechanisms. After all, narcotic substances also play the role of filling an endless black hole in the human soul.

  • One of the partners or both is bad, but no one leaves

There are any arguments justifying that you cannot part. Imagine that you are skating with someone, holding hands. If you both ride well, you will not be scared to let go of your hands. You can go and move out when both want, skating will be like a dance. This is a metaphor for healthy relationships: you are together, but at some moments you can engage in work, friends, other areas of life, and then return to each other again. It’s not so hard to part, because you will hold on your own, you know that you are able to ride a pair with someone else.

If you and your partner do not know how to skate, then you will be very scary to draw your hands. One will definitely fall, because without a support on the second he cannot. This is just a metaphor for dependent relationships.

How to stop entering into a dependent relationship?

Learn to ”skate” yourself. Search your own supports in life, look for a sense of balance. Understand what you are responsible for, and for what is another person. The work is not easy, you need to study yourself well: what you like and what is not, what you are angry with, and what, on the contrary, pleases. What do you want in life, what are your values and meanings? Learning more to ourselves, we appropriate our own qualities, and the need to project them on a partner leaves. We gain our own “arms” and “legs”.

The most effective way to do all this is psychotherapy. The specialist sees from the side where we deceive ourselves, supports on the way to awareness, helps our personality grow up.

The matter is not easy, but it is worth. If we take off our dependence hooks, we are becoming uninteresting people prone to dependence, they have nothing to catch on for us. We automatically cease to enter into painful dependent relationships.


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