psychological dependence relationships

Psychological dependence, which is found in many forms in human beings, is a component of addiction.

Unlike physical dependence, which occurs in pursuit of a reward, psychological dependence develops from the fear of having something which seems to reduce pain taken away from us.

Psychological dependencies can occur in relation to food, drugs, shopping, and even physical exercise. One of the most common areas for psychological dependencies to occur, however, is in love relationships.

What is the Difference between Love and Psychological Dependence?

1. Jealousy

You feel anxious when he or she is around others because you fear that some other girl or boy is going to steal him/her from you. If so, this is a possible sign. This is a normal social situation, which you are supposed to enjoy.  Yet you can’t because inside you’re suffering. A situation like this has consequences on the relationship, too.

You can’t enjoy normal social occasions with your loved one, and you even stop seeing your friends or avoid making new ones because your partner might prefer them to you. If this is the case, your relationship doesn’t stand much of a chance, unless you lock yourselves up in a house and never leave. And even then, it will turn sour quickly because of how stifling such a situation must inevitably become.

  • Solution – Try to take a more relaxed attitude to your relationship. If they’re going leave you for someone else because they saw someone else who was attractive, then you’re not going to prevent this from happening. Also, you can equally easily find someone else. Just open yourself up to the obvious fact that one person is not the sole reason for your happiness.

2. You Want to be with Them (and only them) All the Time

Related to jealousy, but a symptom in itself, is the desire never to be separated from your partner. You want to spend all your time with them even if you realize that the relationship is becoming smothering and you’re both losing your individual identities in it.

When people let go of their identities they start to feel less confident in themselves and less attractive. This can have a fatal effect on a relationship as people begin to feel that they’re stagnating. It’s only a matter of time before one will start feeling they need to break free.

  • Solution – Realize before it’s too late that relationships must discipline and boundaries to work out. Your relationship is doomed if you insist on merging with your partner.

3. You Need their Approval to Feel Good about Yourself

Psychological dependence often occurs in relationships when one partner has low self-confidence. In the beginning, when the relationship is new, both partners tend to say beautiful things to each other. This can make a person who has low self-esteem become reliant on the validation for his/her sense of self-worth.

Sadly, it’s inevitable that enthusiasm for a love object wanes over time through habituation. This can feel like a tragic development to the one who is psychologically dependent on the other. They’re unwilling to recognize that this is a natural and inevitable process: it is nothing to do with their value as a person.

  • Solution – Understand that the novelty wearing off in a relationship is a universal principle. It happens to you too if you’re honest with yourself. Claim it as your own, understand it in yourself, and stop worrying about the fact that the other person is feeling exactly the same way. It’s a shame but it’s the nature of life.

4. You Care More about how your Partner Feels about You than Who They Are

You find that a lot of your conversations or thoughts about your loved one are related to how they feel about you or whether they find you attractive. This is another sign of psychological dependence. It shows that you’re only really interested in their existence in so far as it’s related to you.

Being afraid or disinterested in getting to know someone as they really are, and how they feel about things (not just you) means that you are not really interested in that person. Rather, it suggests that you want to project a fantasy onto them which relates to your own self-worth.

  • Solution – Realize that you are engaging in repetitive and tiresome behavior as a result of your own lack of self-esteem. Learn to curb these tendencies through discipline, and start showing interest in your partner for their own sake.

5. You’re Terrified of Anything Changing

Your partner gets a job offer or a place at a university that will be great for his/her future. You immediately start feeling uncomfortable because you’re sure that this new opportunity will mean that he/she will meet someone else. If so, you may be psychologically dependent. Of course, it’s possible that major life changes can sometimes mean relationships break up. You have to be okay with that.

If you’re getting in the way of someone’s development and if you’re allowing them to get in the way of yours, the relationship won’t last. Either one will break free or, even worse, you’ll stifle each other so much that you’ll end up resenting yourselves and each other.

  • SolutionConcentrate on your own personal development in response to your partner’s success. Focus on making yourself someone who he/she or someone else would want to be with.

Have you any experience of psychological dependence in a relationship? Share your thoughts with us.


By Caroline J.