Panic fear of abandonment, addiction to love and passionate relationships, feeling of not being able to live without being loved? What is it, in concrete terms, to be an emotional dependent? Are some people more prey to this addiction than others and why? Finally, how to get out of it? Explanations and advice from psychotherapists.
Obsessive or compulsive emotional behavior, emotional addiction has, like all others addictions, destructive consequences on work, family or self-respect. Discovery of a rather particular drug: the other.
What is emotional dependence?
At the start of a relationship, you may want to see the other all the time, to tell them how much you love them … In short, you feel like you can’t live without the other. We’re passionately in love, but it’s not about addiction.
The emotionally dependent at need the other or others, as of a drug, for to feel alive : “In emotional addictions, it is the other who is used as an object to regain internal security,” explains Stéphanie Assimacopoulo, psychotherapist who wrote an article on the issue of relational dependence (source 1). As in other addictions, there is no no feeling of fullness and this often has devastating emotional consequences: “There is never enough of the other, of relationships, of feelings of love,” continues this specialist. “.
To better understand, I suggest you read the twelve characteristics listed by Dasa (Affective and Sexual Addicts Anonymous, a support group based on the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous), it is edifying (source 2).
An addiction not quite like the others
The affective dependance What is special is that it is innate and natural: “We are all emotional dependents,” says Hugo Naudet, psychiatrist in Paris from the outset, “we cannot do without relationships with the Other and affection. “This is confirmed by Stéphanie Assimacopoulo’s article:” There is a healthy addiction, just as we are dependent on the air we breathe or the food we eat to live. ”
Like any other addiction, addiction sets in little by little and creates a overbidding phenomenon : “The emotional dependence is pre-existing and progressive: it does not fall on you during a meeting, explains our psychiatrist Hugo Naudet”.
“The more this addiction progresses, the greater the need to find” doses “of increasingly strong feelings of love”, notes Stéphanie Assimacopoulo.
Dependent on one or more people
According to the psychotherapist, relational addiction can manifest itself towards one or more people.
- Great dependence on the other in the couple : “People are totally dependent on the other and always looking for a symbiotic relationship with their partner (…). Terrorized by loneliness, they reveal themselves most of the time obsessively jealous. The anguish of loss animates them permanently and they live their relationship as if their survival depended on it. They can go up to deny their personality, their values and beliefs to maintain the relationship at all costs. “
- High reliance on multiple relationships : Relationships are more or less short-lived and addicted people “surf” from one couple to another, from one relationship to another. ” It’s a compulsive headlong rush where each new relationship allows them to avoid the emotions resulting from the mourning of the previous one. It’s kind of relational bulimia which has the function of making them avoid on the one hand contact with existential loneliness and, on the other hand, too much rapprochement with a partner. “
Why are we emotionally dependent?
This is “a permanent attempt toavoidance of lack to come, ”explains Stéphanie Assimacopoulo. And why are we missing or not? The specialist agrees with the idea that “addiction is an attempt to create or recreate the early life symbiotic relationship “. Either because there was a lack of security within the latter, or because its loss generated a deep nostalgia. This explains the ambivalence of the emotional addict who wants to merge with the other but apprehends him at the same time, from fear of experiencing loss / abandonment.
As with nymphomania or porn addiction, the “keys to freedom” are always the same.
- Therapy : “The assistance of a neutral third party will often prove necessary to get out of addiction », Explains Hugo Naudet.
- Weaning : as with all addictions, it will be advisable to quit. “In my practice, I have been experimenting for years with the proposition of abstinence from addictive behaviors, for example by proposing a period of“ trial ”, advises the psychotherapist. Even if this one, for starters, is short-lived to be able to be held, it invariably brings awareness, no matter how small.
- Mutual aid : participation in support groups like the Anonymous Affective and Sexual Addicts (Dasa) will provide important additional emotional support.
Calling on a third party, finding the right distance, surrounding yourself well, relearning to love yourself… This is, in essence, what you have to (re) start doing to get out of emotional dependence.
To help you get out of emotional dependence, also find the 50 exercises to get out of emotional dependence offered by psychopractor Géraldyne Prévot-Gigant. A small notebook that invites you to reconnect with your freedom and self-esteem through small tests and question / answer games. The author advises to note the reasons for his addiction, for example “I need.other.s because I am afraid of heights and I feel insecure”. Then to note a solution that we can bring ourselvese: “I make sure to secure myself so as not to be afraid of loneliness and emptiness. Another suggestion: write down the 5 or 6 points that are essential to a healthy relationship and commit to keeping them (respect and be respected, have personal and common projects, etc.).
To conclude this post, I will use the words of Stéphanie Assimacopoulo’s article: “It is important to say that leavingrelational addiction like any other addiction is a difficult process. (…) The journey to find healthy, harmonious and nourishing relationships can take time and be marked by relapses that are always painful. It’s a path of patience both for the person and for his psychotherapist, but it is also a path of hope and deep rebirth. ”
Source 1: “Relational addiction”, Stéphanie Assimacopoulo, Gestalt 2010 (n ° 37), pages 117 to 132.
Source 2: “The 12 characteristics of emotional dependence”, Dasa site.