Emotional dependency: The Clingy Partner- Is it normal? 

Emotional dependency: The Clingy Partner- Is it normal?

Picture from: lovethispic.com

Hello all,

We have all known someone who is maybe way too “needy,” or “clingy,” in relationships, or heck, maybe we have been that person! We may judge them because we do not know why they behave this way; why they cannot be more independent and focus more on themselves.We question why their life revolves around someone else, why they seem hopeless without them.

Dependency, or being dependent on someone can be a very healthy and normal part of development. When we are young we depend on others to provide us with nourishment, emotional support, and even material things. As we grow older we typically stray away from this dependence and we develop a sense of autonomy and independence. It becomes healthy and expected to be able to for the most part take care of ourselves. We should no longer need high levels of approval or emotional fulfillment from others. Problems arise when we grow emotionally dependent on someone and base our worth on their perception of us. There are many types of dependency, but for this post we will focus on emotional dependency. Emotional dependency is most often studied or observed in women, although of course, this is a universal phenomenon.

Emotional dependency is when a person allows someone else (usually a significant other or someone close to them) to affect their emotions and their happiness may depend on what the other feels about them, or expresses to them. This can be seen as a type of co-dependence.

Taken from: (http://www.empowher.com/mental-health/content/defining-emotional-dependency-and-top-five-ways-become-more-emotionally-indepe)

Some early signs of dependency:

  • A need for approval from someone else
  • Prioritizing the other’s needs and desires
  • Feeling worry or anxiety when we are alone or not in the presence of someone in particular

Developing dependency may contribute to both normal and abnormal personality development (Morgan & Clark, 2010). It can create changes in:

  • Motivation: we may begin to feel changes in motivation and may lack other supportive relationships
  • Cognition: it may change the way we feel about ourselves because we may see ourselves as incapable or ineffective in contrast to others.
  • Affect: we may begin to feel anxiety or worry when we are not around those who provide us with support and emotional reassurance
  • Behavior: The need to always seek approval and reassurance from that one person or persons may change the way we behave. Ex: we may begin to cater to a certain person or persons, or change our lifestyles in order to seek approval
  • The Self: It can affect our levels of self-esteem or self-worth

Dependency can also affect those around us:

  • Emotional dependency can alienate others around us because we may be too preoccupied with fulfilling the needs of others.
  • We may begin to distance ourselves from those whom we believe do not understand us or are “Diagnosing “ us.
  • Dependency may lead to other mental health problems like depression, which may affect those close to us (Petruccelli, 2014)

How to recognize someone who may be using emotional or psychological manipulation tactics (Gugliandolo et al., 2015):

  • Making you feel guilty about things
  • Making you feel like you are disappointing them
  • Finding ways to shame you
  • Isolating you
  • Personal attacks (emotional or at times physical)
  • Love withdrawal

*These tactics can at times mold and change the way we feel about our selves or our abilities and may leave you feeling incompetent. This may also increase your feelings of dependence by creating the need for approval or assurance.

*Emotional dependency is very commonly seen in relationships where physical abuse is present. One partner is emotionally dependent on the other and the abuser may feed off this dependency and gain control often leading to violence or manipulation (Petruccelli, 2014).

How to become more emotionally independent:

  • Recognize the early signs of emotional dependency
  • Learn your self-worth: know how important your needs are and your worth when you are alone
  • Know that you have ultimate control over your own actions, feelings, and emotions
  • Prioritize your needs and do not allow your actions to revolve around other’s needs or expectations
  • Do not be afraid to seek help!

Some info found at:empowher.com

Why this post?

In past relationships I have always been quick to “feel” in love. I go out of my way maybe too quickly and truly immerse myself in the role of the partner. I do too much, I give too much, and I lose so much! I did not know that these patterns of behaviors could often lead to emotional dependency. I would feel anxious when my partner was not there. I would worry that I was not doing what I was supposed to do in the relationship, and when the relationship ended I would just feel used and confused. It was not until later that I would realize that I had given up so much control over me that my partners knew how to keep me doing what they needed. I was so dependent on their approval and their emotional reassurance.

We may all know people like this; maybe you have been in this situation yourself. Emotional dependence may be more common than we think, and checking for signs of it can greatly help.

As always, thank you for reading and I hope that you have enjoyed this post. Please feel free to comment, provide suggestions, or share. I appreciate your continued support.


More References

Gugliandolo, M., Costa, S., Cuzzocrea, F., & Larcan, R. (2015). Trait Emotional Intelligence as Mediator Between Psychological Control and Behaviour Problems. Journal Of Child & Family Studies24(8), 2290-2300. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-0032-3

Morgan, T. A., & Clark, L. A. (2010). Passive-Submissive and Active-Emotional Trait Dependency: Evidence for a Two-Factor Model. Journal Of Personality78(4), 1325-1352. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00652.x

Petruccelli, F., Diotaiuti, P., Verrastro, V., Petruccelli, I., Federico, R., Martinotti, G., & … Janiri, L. (2014). Affective Dependence and Aggression: An Exploratory Study. Biomed Research International20141-11. doi:10.1155/2014/805469

This entry was posted in emotional dependency, mental health, my experience, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Emotional dependency: The Clingy Partner- Is it normal? 

  1. Thanks for sharing this Elena, I know people like this. But I could never put my finger on what was going on. I have also know people who have had a few signs of this but they weren’t physically abused from what I could tell. But they may have been emotionally abused. They were co-dependent on their partner though.

    • Thanks for reading. Sometimes we just dismiss these red flags, but they definitely can be common. A lot of times it is harder to recognize it on ourselves. Luckily it is a cycle that can be broken 🙂

  2. Thank you for the good article and advise. The only concern I have is saying that prioritizing someone else’s needs and wants is unhealthy. I’ve been married for 26 years and if you want a marriage to last, both people are going to have to prioritize the other’s needs and wants. It is only unhealthy if only one partner does this. Putting other’s needs ahead of your own, whether it is your spouse or your children, is a part of the sacrifice of a relationship. (Of course, this can be overdone.) Here is a post I wrote after my 25th anniversary. I am utterly amazed at the things my husband has done for me (and I believe I am correct in saying he is amazed at the things I have done for him as well.) http://www.almostemptynest.net/25-secrets-of-a-25-year-marriage/

    • Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story :). I do not think that putting others needs before your own can always be a bad thing. You are correct when you say that marriages work when both people help each other out. What is meant by that is when one partner is constantly putting the needs of their partner before their own, thus often forgetting about themselves. It can be an unhealthy obsession or habit, especially when their partner does not do the same for them. We have all met that person who refuses to make plans with someone else “just in case” their partner wants to hang out or needs them. I will definitely read your post. My parents have been married for over 40 years and like you and your husband, they are a true example of giving. Thank you again 🙂

  3. lupiemama says:

    This is very well put. I wish my teenage self could have seen this post but luckily I’ve learned from my mistakes.

    • Thank you for reading. I wish I had this information sooner too! I was always very clingy 🙁 or had a clingy partner. Thanks for your comment. Hope you stick around for more content

  4. The Search for Imperfection says:

    I have a coworker that NEEDS to read this. And I totally agree with lupiemama

  5. Jack Ori says:

    Thanks for writing this post. I work with (and write stories about) young people who are struggling to become independent so this is really helpful information. Helpful for me too — I’ve had a tendency to be too clingy in the past that I’ve done a lot of work on.

    • Thank you for reading. It is amazing that you are sharing those stories. I suffered from this too and it was so hard to see that I was doing it. That is why it is so helpful to hear these types of stories because at times we can identify with them. Thank you for commenting as well 🙂

  6. halfpintpartydesign says:

    I know that in High School I was totally this person. It wasn’t until college where I figured out who I was and what I wanted that I could stand on my own two feet without a boyfriend and feel just fine. It helped so much to gain independence and confidence so I could choose a truly remarkable man to spend the rest of my life with.

    • Thank you for reading. It is definitely a lot more common when we are younger. I am glad that you gained the independence that you needed to be a strong woman on your own. I did not have very healthy relationships and I definitely lacked what you described. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  7. bushrazblogs says:

    Thanks for sharing this article, Elena. I have never been in love with anyone yet but I can totally understand your feelings. I feel that people always use others for their benefit and when their need is over they leave us.

    • Thank you for reading. Sadly that is true. People love having control and sometimes they find people that they can easily control to get what they need. Thank you also for taking the time to comment. Truly appreciate it.